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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Once a Month Cooking–Recap Thoughts

So, what did I really think of once a month cooking?  I think for spending 2.5 hours in the kitchen it was a huge success!  I think on a normal day I would probably cook with more vegetables, but for a quick and easy meal that I’ll grab on a day that I’m too tired to cook – I’ll take it.

I think there were a few key things that made it such a success.

1.  I had a great partner.  Since he’s my husband we work really well together.  He was anticipating my moves and was always right where I needed him to be.  He was so efficient he even cleaned a spoon before I was done with it.  I was anticipating what he would be doing next and prepped his labels for the bags or got his ingredients to him before he even knew he needed them.

2.  Good pots.  I think I used 3 different pots and 2 cookie sheets throughout the night.  I absolutely love my Rachael Ray cast iron pots and they served me well last night.  I believe I have both a 5 quart and a 7 quart.   I personally would love to get a few Le Creuset pots if I could (hint, hint family members!).  I also used one other large pot while the cast iron ones had food that was being packaged in them.

3.  I skipped all the pasta.  I don’t care for pasta dishes that are frozen and then reheated.  Maybe you can help me and tell me what I’m doing wrong, but mine always end up mushy and kind of bleh.  The way I see it, if I’m too tired to cook I’ll grab a frozen dish.  If I’m too tired to also boil up the pasta to go with it, I’m probably too tired to throw a casserole into the oven. 

4.  Look ahead!  I found that as I was cooking I had some down time.  Why not get started on another recipe while you wait for meat to brown up?  Take advantage of every spare minute you have and you’ll finish ahead of schedule.  This also means reading and almost studying the instructions ahead of time.  You may be able to find shortcuts that work for you by reading everything over first.

5.  Food processor.  Amen to whomever it was that bought us the food processor as a wedding present.  I’ll admit, I don’t use it much.  Pie crust … bread crumbs … sometimes baby food, but that’s about it.  I don’t know how long it would have taken me to chop all of those vegetables.  So pay attention to the notes in the direction that denote veggies that you can use the food processor to chop.

6.  Counter space.  Room to groove meant I had a place for a soup to sit for awhile until I got the next sauce going.  Once that didn’t need my attention I could package up the soup.  I recommend using every inch of counter/table/floor space your kitchen will allow.

7.  Fast rinsing.  Do yourself a favor, rinse all those pots out ASAP before anything gets caked on!!  You know how long it would have taken to get all the broccoli cheese soup out of that pot?  If you rinse it while it’s still warm and hasn’t started to stick, it cleans in a jiffy!

8.  Parchment paper.  I recently discovered parchment paper and I’m not sure how I ever lived without it before.  It keeps everything on your cookie sheet perfectly cooked without over browning and it’s so easy to just throw it out, no clean up necessary!

We’ve got two freezer dinners on the menu for this week and we’ve been eating waffles and pop tarts galore.

I’m really encouraged by how many comments I’ve received about this both here on my blog, my lamaworks facebook fan page and my personal facebook page.  Keep them coming!  I’ll try to post again the next time I try it out.  Maybe we can all try it together!

Next on my list is once a month baby food … that is as soon as I use up the 50 bags we already have in the freezer – I’ll admit that I’m addicted to making baby food, but that’s for another post.

Thanks for reading!!!

Until the next time…
The girl behind the lama

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Becky said...

Great to read that the project was a success! I'm tempted to try it, but don't think my helper will be as helpful. Two tips on the pasta, if you want to try it. 1. Under-cook the pasta (by three or four minutes for penne). And rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. If the pasta starts off firmer, it won't end up as mushy. 2. Try a whole wheat pasta. I think it has a bit heartier texture, so it doesn't taste as mushy.

Lama Works said...

Maybe you can find a friend to team up with! I think the official concept is to cook twice as much as I did and split it between the two families.

Thanks for the pasta tip - I'll have to try it out next time!


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