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Friday, March 6, 2009

Guest Post:: "Saving Time and Money One Month at a Time"

"Saving Time and Money One Month at a Time"

I have been doing Once A Month Cooking for my husband and I for several years now (also sometimes referred to as freezer cooking, power cooking or OAMC). I didn't always do it once-a-month but I did it frequently enough to make sure that there was always something in the freezer in case of a "bad day". Now that I have a son life is A LOT more uncertain. Will I have time to cook? Will he let me cook? Will his nap be 15 minutes this afternoon or 2 hours and 15 minutes? Will I have enough energy at the end of the day to cook? All things that making planning a meal difficult in our home. So these days we do once-a-month cooking, once-a-month!

Aside from being extremely convenient and helping with our overall meal plans, once-a-month cooking is most appealing to me because it saves our family TIME and MONEY! Here's how!

I have a 6 month old and time is just not my friend these days. I never imagined that going to the grocery store could take an extra 20 minutes to prepare everyone! And cooking - we won't even talk about the hectic dinner hour. Well, not anymore. I do a majority of our cooking for the entire month in one 8 hour day!

Now some of you just stopped reading because you thought, 8 hours? There is no way I can spend 8 hours in the kitchen! Can't you? When you add up all of the time that you spend in the kitchen each and every evening the 8 hours really isn't that much. Our monthly menus include approximately 15 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 15 dinners for two families of four (we encourage doing this with a cooking partner). If you figure it takes about 15-30 minutes to prepare the breakfasts, 30 minutes to prepare the lunches and an hour to two to prepare the dinners, you are looking at nearly 30 hours in the kitchen over the course of the month! Because we are maximizing our steps and cooking process times, we are saving nearly 22 hours of time each month. What would you do with an extra 22 hours each month?

We also make our own baby food for our 6 month old. This doesn't exactly save time over going to the store and buying jarred foods. But for me, a women that enjoys cooking, it really is time well spent. I love knowing exactly how his food was prepared and what ingredients are in it. I also love the flexibility of mixing and matching my own flavors to suit his particular tastes.

Everyone is interested in saving money these days, as they should be! Cooking once-a-month saves you more than you can imagine. This past month we decided that we would shop the grocery sale ads all month long, use coupons and only buy items not on sale if we absolutely had to the several days before our cooking day. My cooking partner and I spent a total of $149.13 for the 58 meals (for a family of four). If you do the math on that it comes to less than $2.60 a meal! I was so excited when I realized how much we will be saving each and every month.

Do you have an infant? Have you ever thought of making your own baby food to save money? Do you really save money? On our site we also help you to manage making your own baby food if you have a young one. With little Judah here, I am sure even Denise will be doing the math on baby food soon enough. It isn't cheap! But when you make it yourself you really can save money. For instance, in the month of February we made an entire month's worth of fruits and vegetables for our two little ones (4-6 months). When we compared how much we made with how much we would have spent on jars of baby food we found that we saved between $25-$33 (depending on which type of jarred foods you are comparing)! Here are a few examples:
  • Organic Carrots (Trader Joes)

    Appr. 2 1/2 lbs. = $1.78
    Added appr. 1/2 c. of water
    Made 42 oz.
    Cost =.04/oz.

    Gerber equiv. 17 jars @ $.59 each = $10.03

    Gerber Organic equiv. 17 jars @ $.69 each = $11.78

    Net Savings $8.25 to $9.95

  • Organic Apples (Trader Joes)

    3 lb. bag @ Trader Joes = $3.99
    Added some water to make it stage 1 consistency
    Made 28 oz.
    Cost = $.14/oz.
    Gerber equiv. 12 jars @ $.59 ea. = $7.08
    Gerber Organic equiv. 12 jars @ $.69 = $8.28
    Net Savings $3.09 to $4.29

Over time these savings really add up! Not to mention that we have the satisfaction of knowing that our little ones are receiving meals made by our loving hands! So if you have entertained the idea of once-a-month cooking or bulk preparing your baby's food, or you are simply looking for additional ways to save time and money, visit us and see what we have cooking! We can help you get organized by providing you with a menu, grocery lists, local sales and instructions for putting things together on your cooking day! We are just getting started with March's Cooking Menu, you should join us!

Tricia recently had her first child and is getting used to her new career as a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband both reside in Ohio where she grew up. She and her co-author, Cortney, are trying to show others how to be good stewards of their time and their money while still providing wholesome and nutritious meal options to their families. You can find out more about her and what she is cooking up at


Nate @ Debt-free Scholar said...

Monthly cooking is an interesting idea. However, is it possible to make the meals varied?


The Sensible Momma said...

I love the idea of making your own baby food! I posted about this myself. Unfortunately, I didn't even try making my own baby food with my first son because I thought I didn't have enough time, but what I have found recently is not only does it save money, but it is really easy! I definitely recommend people trying it!

jeri said...

I made my own baby food 27 years ago! Some of my relatives thought I'd gone off the deep end, but I really enjoyed I've been interested in the once a month concept-want to do dinners only since we all work full time.

Stacy said...

I wish my freezer looked like that! Nice article. I made some of my own baby food when my son was little. He LOVED Sweet Potatoes. I would puree it and freeze it in ice cube trays. I put these frozen cubes in a zip freezer bag and thawed them as needed. So easy and saved TONS of money.

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

We are thrilled for the arrival of your new blessing.
I am excited you're featuring this new site. I have been doing bulk cooking for years, and it saves so much time and money. Both of these girls are great - met them at Blissdom. :)

Amy in Ohio said...

Nate - that's a good question. We (my SIL and I) did it for the first time last Saturday and the variety is definitely there. With Tricia's OAM method, you're really only cooking 50% of your month's meals, so you have the other half to add variety and whatnot.

And even with the 15 or so dinners your making, each meal is only doubled twice.

I don't know, that might not make any sense - Tricia explains it well!

All I know is that my freezer is stuffed, the food is tasty and the stress of WHAT'S FOR DINNER doesn't pop up at 3pm everyday!! YEAH!

saverchic said...

I did this when I was single, and the food lasted forever! Thanks for posting this.

Money Savin' Momma said...

We love once a month / bulk cooking. We have several OAMC/bulk cooking recipes on our site, along with step by step pictures and photos of the meals.

Feel free to check them out here

$ Money Savin' Momma $
Engineer a Debt Free Life (freebies, bargains, and ways to earn money online!)

Anah said...

Oh.My.Goodness. That freezer is sooo neat and organized!

We don't do organic baby food- but I do have a saving tip! We buy the 50oz jar of plain, unsweetened applesauce at Walmart for about $1.87. It works out to about 4¢ per ounce.

I also bake an extra sweet potato for DS, mash it and thin it out with diluted juice (I pre-dilute his juice every time I make a batch) then freeze in ice cube trays. Same with squash- If I'm making it anyways, might as well make extra and buzz it in the blender!

Jessica said...

I've made my own baby food for my 4 kids. It is really easy, doesn't take that much time and DOES save money!

I blogged the breakdown here:

Another tip, if the OAMC is too overwhelming, is to just make double of a few dinners a month and freeze the extras. Then you will always have a few frozen meals at any given time to use for crazy days or to help out a friend.

Anonymous said...

I made some of my baby's food, but I had read on some different sites that homemade carrots weren't a good idea...nitrates?? I bought the carrots. said...

I love the idea of making homemade baby food but when I found out I could just get it for free at Food Lion using their Baby Steps FLIPS, I started doing that. It saves me time and money since it's always free. I started stockpiling while pregnant and pick up some each time I go now. My baby is 7 months old and more than likely we will hvae to give away gerber baby food, puffs, biter biscuits, gerber juice etc etc, b/c we have that much from getting it free from coupons. Not everyone has a Food Lion in their area and thus cannot take advantage of this year going coupon program. So, making your own baby food is definitely the way to go. But if you have a Food Lion nearby, I'd definitely say give it a try b/c it's free! It has helped my family out so much and been such a blessing to us. I wrote a little about this on my blog b/c I was hoping to help someone that had a FL nearby utilize these coupons! God bless!

Carolina Clipper said...

Thanks for the great blog! I've given you the Kreativ Blogger award.