Friday, April 30, 2010

OAMC -- The Recipes

I am, over a few posts, going to attempt to break down Once A Month Cooking.  I gave you a big picture of it all in my first post. For some, that first post may have been a bit more than you wanted to swallow.  Heh, heh, heh.  Pun intended.  I crack myself up. 

I think a good place to start is with the recipes.   ("Let's start from the very beginning.  A very good place to start.  When you read you begin with A-B-C, and when you cook you begin with the rec-i-pes.")  Again, cracking myself up... I don't recall that Fraulein Maria sang it quite that way.  That's the song according to Fraulein GHM!

I told you that I surfed the web for "freezer meal recipes" and also bought two booklets: The Frozen Gourmet and Frugal Mom's Guide to Once A Month Cooking.  Both of the books are very reasonably priced, but let's begin with free.  Free is good.  Free is very, very good.  In fact, I'd like to give you a little tidbit.  FREE!  This is one of my family's favorite freezer meals, Simple Salisbury Steaks.  And easy?  It's easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!  Just leave me a comment with your email address and I'll shoot the recipe to you.  And, keep watching, friends, there are many more recipes where that one came from!

So, go Google "freezer meal recipes."  I'll wait.  Well, it could take you a while to look at the websites, read through the recipes, and choose a few your family will like.  So, I'm not waiting on that.  Time is money, man.  Time is money.  Or something like that.

When you find a site that has recipes you like, save them.  I'd HIGHLY recommend creating a folder on your desktop that you can just add the recipes to.  I'm a geek and I like all my recipes to look similar on paper so I usually copy the entire recipe from the website and then paste it into a Word document, saving that document in my Recipes folder.   HEY!  Stop that!  I see you rolling your eyes at me.  Trust me, organization saves time.  And that is one of the BIG perks of OAMC!

Once you have filled your little Recipe folder with several recipes -- I'd start with about 10 for your first session, then it's time to make your shopping list with all the ingredients you'll need.

So, post number three will be all about creating your shopping list...

Now you must go and clean out your freezer of anything that has been lurking in the recesses.  You'll need all that space for the yummy, easy, wonderlicious meals you're going to be putting in there shortly!

Love wins,

PS -- If you have any questions about OAMC, post them in the comments section.  I will read through them and answer them in a future post.  Maybe there will be enough to post a whole OAMC FAQ page.  That's a whopping acronym, huh?  And if there's not many questions, I'll just assume that I'm really great at 'splainin things...

PPS or is it PSS  or is it SPS for Second Post Script --  WHATEVER it is, Don't forget to leave me a comment with your email address if you'd like a copy of the FREE OAMC recipe!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OAMC -- The Big Picture

I've been asked a bunch of times about the freezer meals that I prepare for our family.

So, by popular demand:  Once A Month Cooking by The Greyhaired Momma

Now, before you start thinking I am the smartest, most well prepared, most organized, best dressed, most fit -- uhh... wait.  I think I derailed there.  What I'm trying to say is that this whole concept of OAMC is not my own.   I pretty much stole it from some other really smart ladies.  Well, steal is a rather strong word.  I paid.  And you can too.  But, before I get to that, I will tell you more about OAMC and how it's blessed our family.

If you, like me, feel like you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off on most days, then you know that by 5:00, you're exhausted.  And the idea of figuring out what's for dinner is daunting enough to make you offer pancakes, eggs, cereal, canned processed junk, McD's Chicken Flavored Nuggets, and PB&J's to your family.  Repeatedly.  Never mind the fact that making something with meat usually required enough forethought to have taken it out of the freezer.  My family is not a big fan of "mystery meat bricks."  I'm assuming yours isn't either.

I started small.  A friend and I tackled one week of meals.  (I would highly recommend partnering up for your first, and even your second, attempt at freezer meals.  Builds confidence and it's nice to have someone other than the onions to chat with.  Not that I do that.  I'm speaking of hypothetical conversations with the onions.  Sheesh!)    One week of meals worked fine, however it seemed like a lot of work for only 5 or 6 meals.  So, I began to think larger.  I Googled "freezer meals."  There was lots out there with a recipe or two, and people who touted doubling and tripling recipes to freeze.  But I thought there must be something different.  And, I didn't want to eat three pans of spaghetti in one week.  

A lady that I'd heard speak at a MOPS convention, Kathi Lipp, was talking on her blog about freezer cooking.  I entered to win her recipe booklet, The Freezer Gourmet, but, alas, did not win.  When I emailed Kathi about purchasing it and told her about our blog, she took pity on me.  I guess she read our blog, fell in love with MotorMan's commitment to our country.  What can I say?  The woman is a patriot.  And she mailed me her booklet -- for free!

And then I stumbled on this beauty.  The Holy Grail of OAMC guidebooks: Frugal Moms' Guide to Once A Month Cooking.  Not only does the FMGtOAMC downloadable booklet have TONS of recipes, but it also has forms to make your planning and cooking easier. 
 So, using both of the recipe booklets and other recipes I've found online, I begin planning.  I usually choose about 15-20 recipes, knowing that there will be some leftovers from most recipes, which means some meals stretch more than one night.  I also know that most recipes make a larger portion than we will eat and that I can actually turn one recipe into two meals.

After choosing the recipes, I make my shopping list with all the ingredients.  And the crazy thing?  Our grocery bill is LESS when I do freezer cooking than it is for other meal plans.  It's markedly cheaper than that whole fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants meal plan!  For example, I made 19 meals yesterday.  Our grocery bill for that was $220!  That's for a month of dinners, people.  Of course I will need to add the fresh produce each week, but come on!  That's cheap.  Stinkin' cheap if you ask me.  Which, I realize, you didn't.

One of the good guidelines in FMGtOAMC is to designate one day for shopping and another day for cooking.  Trust me, you need two days.   Especially if you shop at the StuffMart.  Just getting through the check out there could take the better part of the day.  But, that's a whole other rant for another day.

Once I've decided on my cooking day, and have the recipes in front of me, I use a worksheet that tells me the order to "do" things for the recipes.  Kinda like a game plan.  A road map of cooking.  This makes things much smoother.  For instance, I will cut up all the onions and mince all the garlic at one time that I will need for the entire slew of recipes.   I will brown all the ground beef at one time.  I will boil all the chicken breasts together and then dole out the appropriate amount for each recipe.   The first time I tried OAMC, even with my game plan, I bumbled around a bit.  This time, I was smoother.   Next time, I expect to shoot through it like greased lightning!  (Feel free to enter the song here.  You know it's playin' through your head and that John Travolta is dancin' through your brain in those tight leather pants.  I'll wait.... "Go greased lightning you're coasting through the quarter mile.  Go greased lighting!  Go greased lightning!  You are supreme!  Uh! Uh!" -- and I'll stop there as this is a family friendly blog!)

Where was I?  Oh, yes...

Honestly, there is no magic to the whole thing.  Yes, it takes time.  But the four or five hours I spend in the kitchen one day comes back to me tenfold when I pull a meal out of the freezer the night before cooking to thaw.  Knowing all I have to do is bake/warm/crockpot the main dish, add some sides and it's ready is wonderful.  All ingredients bundled.  Everything I need is there.   Just thaw, cook, and enjoy!

It's been a blessing on our household and I hope you'll try it and find the blessing for yourself!

**Postscript:  After writing this, I realized that it might behoove (good word, huh?) -- uh, it might be helpful if I actually broke down the whole process a little bit more.  And maybe threw a recipe or two at you.  So, watch for those posts... They'll be coming to a blog near you!  Well, this blog specifically, but you know what I mean.
Love and freezer meals win,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It is well...

Last week, TheBoy had Spirit Week at his preschool.  The kids thrilled to dress up with silly hats, PJ's, mismatched clothes, and more.

The last day of the week was "Hero Day."  We'd talked throughout the week about what TheBoy would like to wear.  He had decided early on in the week that he wanted to wear his "chief's suit" for Hero Day.  His "chief's suit" is dress up that has coat, helmet, and pants of a firefighter.  Combine that with his firefighter galoshes he received for Easter and I felt we were set.  We also talked about why a firefighter is a hero, discussing important things like bravery, helping others, etc.  I thought the decision had been made.

I thought wrong.

Imagine my surprise and my overwhelming sense of pride when my son came downstairs dressed like this:

"I dressed up like my Daddy.  He's a pilot and a hero."  

"It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."
Hymn by Horatio Spafford

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The other box...

When sticks and nails and mortar meet,

a dwelling is constructed.

Some choose to decorate their houses

to bring comfort to the bones, appeal to the eye, and pleasure to the soul.

But what I know

is that it's what's inside that dwelling

that makes it a home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One box...

A while ago, two boxes appeared on our doorstep.  MotorMan has been ordering lots of stuff for the Blazer, and so I didn't think much about it.  We were excited to open then and see what they contained.

Imagine our surprise when we opened one box, and found this inside:

Why, it was a perfectly useful boy.  We weren't quite sure what to do! 

We don't recall ordering one of these, but here he is.  Apparently Someone knew what we needed better than we did.

The label on the box was clearly marked "NO RETURNS."  And, of course, the Owner's Manual was missing. 

So, I guess we'll keep him.

He seems to fit right in with all the other crazies we've got around here!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love Wins

I'm a part of an amazing Bible study.  It's called CBS -- Community Bible Study.  It is an international program, with classes held all over the world.  I have been a part of this group for three years now, and I'm always amazed at all I learn and the blessing I receive from participating.  
The neat thing about this group is that each year we study a different book of the Bible.  We read an assigned passage or chapter, and answer questions.  Then we join other women (some classes are men and women, but ours is just for women) and review the questions.  It is so enriching to hear what other godly women are hearing and learning from God. 

This year we are studying the book of Revelation.   When I heard that we'd be tackling Revelation, I have to admit to being wary.  Even considered not joining the study this year.  I mean, that's the book with all the really weird, sci-fi, unbelievable stuff in it that condemns all and precipitates fear, right???

Uh, no.  Well, there is some scary stuff like bowl judgments and plagues and that stuff, but those judgments are passed on unbelievers.  And though Satan, the Antichrist, and the beast are all pretty scary, it was also, in a way, reassuring to read about these things so that I could find clarity about the end times in my mind.  No longer were these things myths, but truths.  And as John 8:32 says, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 

It's amazing to me how really delving into God's word brings me closer to Him.  To having a better understanding of WHO God is.  

And what I've learned from this book is that God is a merciful, patient, and just God.  He wishes for all to come to Him, and for none to perish.  The reason he passes all the judgments, plagues, and bowls?  To bring the unbelievers to Him.  He gives unbelievers chance after chance after chance. 
   "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  2 Peter 3:9b

Are there weird images in Revelation?  Yes.
Are there scary judgements and plagues revealed?  Yes.
Should I be afraid of the end times? No.

Know why?

Because perfect Love casts out fear.   Let me say that again -- perfect Love (God) casts out fear (things of Satan -- and Satan himself!)
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  1 John 4:18

In fact, that perfect Love wins in the end -- at the end of it all, LOVE WINS.

And that's a perfect ending to an imperfect world!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


"See! The winter is past; 

   the rains are over and gone.  

Flowers appear on the earth; 

       the season of singing has come, 

       the cooing of doves 

       is heard in our land."

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

All photos taken with my Nikon D40x, using a Nikkor 18-55mm lens.