One of the most important parts of doing "once a month cooking" is the prep work. Even if you don’t do all of the cooking on one day, you’ll want to do as much of the prep work at one time as possible. This way, even if you need to stop early, you have still shaved off tons of time for later in the week or month.
The above is an example of peeling a whole bunch of carrots at once. I ran out of time and couldn’t go ahead and slice/dice/chunk them for various recipes. I was also making enchiladas for dinner and had just emptied a tortilla. Instead of throwing it out, it was an easy, reusable way to store the whole, peeled carrots, until I was ready to come back to them again.
Later in the week, I likely sliced some of these for the kids’ lunches, diced some for soups, and polished off the last for snacks. Chances are, I had a similar bag of celery right alongside it in the fridge, too.
I clearly love cooking. I love being in the kitchen. I love trying out new recipes. I love creating new dishes or weird food art.
What I don’t love is doing it every single day.
I burn out really fast if I have to cook every day. Even if I’m just doing simple dinners every day or fixing my own lunch, I get lazy crazy fast if I do it too many days in a row. Then I don’t want to cook at all and I especially have no interest in playing with my food either because I want to get right back out of the kitchen as soon as possible.
So instead, I end up cooking a whole bunch at once and tossing half of it in the freezer or repurposing the ingredients for several dishes at one time. I used to do more of what the internet blogging world calls “once a month cooking” but I find it more realistic to simply do it when I have the chance…whether that’s once a month or every couple weeks or even just doubling up recipes when I’m cooking on one of those mundane “pasta for dinner…again” nights.
Below is an example of buying pepperoni and turning it into several different pizza pockets. My lighting was really bad in that kitchen, so I know some of it doesn’t look very appetizing, but every variation was delicious.
Most of the ingredients were the same… pepperoni, peppers, cheese, sauce, homemade dough…. but they were in different combinations and presentations. The braided wraps were great for dinner and midnight snacks because I could cut off whatever size I felt like. And the little “pork bun” style pockets were more perfect for tossing in a lunch bag for an easy packed lunch. The ones near the end where the pepperoni isn’t cut were a bit more similar to “pigs in a blanket” with a very strong pepperoni flavor compared to the rest.
Most of these variations also would’ve been great examples of when I fry my pepperoni first. Any of them that are chopped and mixed with other ingredients would’ve been de-grease-ified a little bit first because otherwise, the filling ends up with pockets of nasty orange-ness that I’m just not too thrilled with eating.
This is a great size to pop out and give to a toddler, but it’s really a good idea for adults, too. I read on another site that she pours the “good stuff” into tins and then “broth” into a different set. Then when she’s ready to grab some for lunch, she grabs a cube of each and is ready to go. That way she doesn’t have to try to evenly portion out each cup with broth and “good stuff.”
I like that this avoids using too many of those plastic tupperware or glad bowls, too. These can be frozen, then popped out of the tin and stored in a ziplock bag without tying up all your dishes.