Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bulk cooking.... healthier!

I've been sinking under the weight of meal planning, prep & cooking. There's a lot of us around here & it can be tough to make nourishing foods while caring for a big family + home educating children. It is even tougher to do it in a way that doesn't break the bank! WOW, have food prices increased!

Oh, and then there's those pesky food allergies. As most of you know, this past year we discovered several of our children have food allergies. We're still in the process of getting everyone tested but we know for certain that the main culprit is gluten, dairy & yeast. Yeah. Let that soak in a bit. GLUTEN. DAIRY. And yeast. That last one wasn't a big deal but boy, oh boy, those first two were! But God is so good to us- I'm thankful for how He prepared us for this by first guiding me to learn more about the dangers of gluten for everyone. (I know ya don't want to hear it but you're a grownup. You can learn the tough things too.) I'm thankful for testing & guidance from a nautroapth who is helping us to heal verses just masking our symptoms, which would lead to further health issues later. I'm thankful for resources at our fingertips- books, the internet, food sources, friends. What a blessing to live in the age we do now! I'm especially thankful that God is still teaching us about health & nutrition! I'm thankful that one day in heaven our bodies will be glorified & we'll no longer suffer. Now that will be fun! :)

Anyway, I didn't mean to turn this into a discussion on health. Sorry. I meant to share with you an AWESOME resource for bulk cooking: Once A Month Meals. I did a lot of bulk cooking in Ohio (shout out to Elizabeth, Tina & Dawn!) but as our family transitioned to eating more real foods, bulk cooking decreased. But as I said in the beginning, I've been drowning under the cost & preparation of meals so I've been praying & searching for a better way. I've cooked & froze a few meals here and there but I wanted something that would save me more time. I wanted to do MORE. I like to do things all or nothing. That turns out wonderful or horrible, depending on the moment. ;)

OAMM provides monthly meal plans based on seasonal ingredients. What makes their system unique is that you can choose from a variety of meal plans for YOUR needs- paleo, no gluten, no dairy, whole foods, etc. Or you can just choose a simple, traditional plan. Your're not limited to using the specific month's plan- you can choose from hundred's of other recipes if you upgrade to their premium membership, which I would highly recommend. OAMM gathers there recipes from the internet- I like how they do the searching & I can do the reaping.

The BIGGEST, AWESOMEST (I don't think that's a word) thing about OAMM is that once you pick out your meals, they generate the lists you'll need: recipes based on how many serving you choose, shopping, prep day, cooking & freezing instructions, thaw instructions. Insert happy dance here. Seriously. Back in Ohio, I did bulk cooking with a friend and we each cooked 3 months of meals for each of our families. (I told you I'm a "all or nothing" kind of girl.) It was insane but worth all the time & effort- we walked away with a ton of food for our families & also saved a ton of money. But those lists that we had to make by hand... oh my!!!

I did my first big cooking day this past week. I was able to stretch several of the meals & ended up with 6 muffin recipes & 29 meals. (I chose to do muffins verses breakfast meals & will mostly use the lunch meals for dinners.) No casseroles... though I did make shepherd's pie. But it's divine! :) 

I did all my shopping on one day and then all my prep work & cooking on the same day- not ideal but oh well. It took 13.5 hours and I was exhausted at the end of that long day but I was also thrilled to have my freezer full! We've ate a few meals already & they've been great. I'm pretty sure all but one will be good (I did a lot of tasting on cooking day... probably too much tasting). I'll report back in a few weeks about what we thought about the food. For now, enjoy a few pictures:

Don't buy fresh limes. They look pretty but it's a lot of work to get the juice out. Ask me how I know:

HUGE thanks to Patricia & Benjamin for washing all the dishes throughout the entire day. It was a lot:

If anyone wants some of the recipes to try, I can send you links. But I'd recommend just visiting OAMM yourself. :) Oh, and I think it goes without saying but in the end, it's just food. I would NEVER want to offend someone or make someone feel like they can't eat with us because of our health/nutrition choices. I always enjoy discussing the topics but it's totally okay with me if you don't want to. :)

1 comment:

Bethany said...

I have a book called Once a Month Cooking (I think). It provides you with the recipes, but I really like how it sets up the shopping list and the prep list in order to minimize the work and the dirty dishes. The biggest problem is it does not take into account allergies, so I've had to stop using it. But I did find some favorites in that book.