Sunday, May 23, 2010

OAMC -- The Cooking Day Game Plan

Because it's been a while since my last post on Once a Month Cooking, you might want to check back into the archives to make sure you're up to speed:
OAMC -- The Big Picture
OAMC -- The Recipes
OAMC -- The Shopping List

And on to today's topic:  The Cooking Day Game Plan

I usually strategize (is that even a word???) my Cooking Day the night before the actual event.
I've found that mapping out how my day will go (cooking wise, at least) helps the day to run smoother  (more smoothly?  more smoother?  Mmmmm!  Smoothies!)  Back on task, GHM!  Back on task!

I've created a Cooking Day Game Plan sheet for you to use.   It's what I'll refer to as I talk you through (read you through?  type you through?) planning for the biggest day of your life your Once A Month cooking day.

Get the recipes that you've decided to make and your planning sheet.  Read through the recipes so that you're familiar with them.  Familiarize yourself.  Introduce yourself.  You'll be old friends by the time you're finished with your cooking day!

Start looking for similarities.  For instance, if you have several recipes that call for chopped onions or garlic cloves, make a mental note of the quantities that you'll need.  I usually put that on my planning sheet first:  "Chop 4 onions and press 3 cloves of garlic."

Then I find other similarities.  Need a bunch of beef that needs browning?  Group it all together in one pan.  Put it on your planning sheet:  "Brown 5 lbs. ground beef with 2 diced onions."

Once I've looked over the recipes, I make my plan.  I usually do the easy stuff first:  chopping veggies, browning beef, making marinades, etc.   One big tip:  watch for things that need to cook for longer times (noodles, rice, etc.) and put those high on your planning list.  You'll want those things waiting for you when you're ready for them.  Not the other way around.

I'll save the more labor intense recipes for the last part of the day.  You might want to tackle those first, but I tell you my logic/theory.  When I do the easy stuff first, I have lots of freezer bags and 8x8 aluminum freezer pans filled with food quite early in the day.  And that motivates me.  Marine Corps running cadences also motivate me, but we won't get into that.  And, no, I don't listen -- or call -- cadence while cooking.  Though maybe I should give it a try...

Using your recipes as a guide, write down step by step plans.  You don't have to complete an entire recipe.  In fact, there has never been a time when I have done a recipe completely through from start to finish in one step.  Well, now that I've said that, I have to amend it.  I do make my marinades in one step.  But all other recipes are multi-step.

I'm thinking this might be easier if I just demonstrate it.  So, I've completed a planning sheet and you can see how I would plan my day for three recipes:  Simple Salisbury Steak, Honey Lime Chicken, and Hash Brown Casserole. 

As you can see, I just went through the recipes and made a plan as to how to complete them.  There's really no right or wrong way to do this.  You'll figure it out after one or two cooking sessions.  I've seen my cooking time decrease each time I've cooked for an OAMC session, as my confidence increases.  You'll figure it out. 

Have you got it now?  Good.  Go make your plans.  And get a good night's sleep.  My next OAMC post will be about Cooking Day, so stay tuned...

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