For the most part, I try to spend 2-3 hours, 3 Saturday mornings per month. I can accomplish most of what I need to do in that amount of time. Throughout the week I may I throw in some extras like making double amounts of a meal, or getting some cheese grated when I have an extra minute.
I know it may make more sense to just choose one Saturday per month and get it all done, then my other Saturdays are free. And if that works for you, then by all means, go for it! Incase you’re wondering what method will work for you, here are some of the reasons I do smaller, more frequent cooking sessions:
*I know that if I wait for a time when I can do the marathon, all-in-one-day cooking session, (with a whole day of shopping and preparing the day before) it will never come. I guarentee it won’t come once a month. One time of trying that and there’s no way I’d do it every 4-5 weeks! I would have a great plan and nothing in my freezer.
*Doing smaller cooking sessions is easier to do, easier to plan for, easier to pay for, and much less stressful.
*It allows me to take advantage of sales. If I try to do all my meals once a month, I’m stuck paying whatever the prices are that day for each of the needed ingredients. When I only do a few things a week, I can choose to cook according to what is available in bulk or on sale. If there is a sale on chicken, I’ll stock up and spend the morning cutting and precooking chicken for various meals.
*It allows me to buy my meat in bulk.
I buy from Zaycon. So far I’ve purchased chicken and beef. On those days I get huge amounts of meat ready for the freezer. Truth be told, if I only prepared my chicken and beef ahead of time and did no other freezer cooking, I’d be way ahead as compared to not freezer cooking at all. I can’t tell you how much it helps just to know that I have a package of boneless chicken strips all cut up and ready to go. Somehow making the rest of the meal seems approachable on a busy day when that one step is done.
*I really can’t be on my feet all day. And I don’t like cleaning a kitchen after doing so. By just cooking on Saturday mornings, my cooking session doesn’t run into the evening, leaving me cleaning and packaging food when I’d rather be spending the evening with my family. I’m able to get a substantial amount of cooking done and cleaned up with plenty of day left to enjoy.
You can certainly try it both ways and see what works best for you. I think most of us do some mixture of several approaches. Maybe you’ll spend the better part of one Saturday per month making lots of whole meals. Then throughout the month you’ll add in some recipe helpers, some baked goods, and some “make one freeze one” meals. It’s a pretty good compromise, and probably fits most schedules best.
I recommend that you just start somewhere. Choose the method that appeals to you and get cookin’. Then tweak it to make it work better next time. As you go along, you’ll find your rhythm, and it will become habit. And you’ll love the feeling of knowing dinner’s ready!