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Once A Month Cooking Whether you cook for a month or just double your dinners, this is the place to share ideas.

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05-04-2004, 06:13 PM
Jill P's Avatar
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Ideas for Someone Just Starting This

I am new to this forum and want to learn about oamc. I'd love for you to share with me things that you wish you knew when you were first starting out.

I have a family of 3 adults, and will be wanting to prepare smaller sized meals.

Any advice, ideas, or other info would be appreciated!

Jill in FL
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Old 05-07-2004, 12:50 PM
Txchef_fran's Avatar
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Location: DFW, Texas
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Lightbulb Sorry this is long....

Welcome to the site and what a great place to start with OAMC or what I call Investment Cooking. I teach classes on this and would love to share my tips, recipes, etc. BTW~Where is FL are you? I have family in Port St John (between Cocoa and Titusville)

Prepared and compiled by Fran Johnson from NDSU Extention Service Nutrition Specialist website, “The Food Lovers Tiptionary”, dear friend of mine in the business I am in.


1.Onions – Chopped can be frozen up to 3 months

2.Red Bell Peppers – Are actually vine-ripened green peppers. Because they have ripened longer they are sweeter than the green. Seeded, chopped can be frozen up to 6 months.

3.Mashed Potatoes – Freeze mashed potatoes in muffin cups.

4.Corn on the Cob – Remove kernels and freeze for soups, casseroles and salads then boil cobs with milk and water. Freeze the corn broth for soup starter or chicken pot pies.

5.Celery – Freeze tops and leaves of celery then chop and freeze to save for soups.

6.Hamburger Patties – Freeze hamburger patties between wax paper to easily separate.

7.Herbs – Freeze in ice cube trays. Drop cubes in soups.

8.Pasta – When freezing pasta cook pasta aldente when freezing to prevent it from becoming mush once reheated.

9.Sauces – Freeze leftover sauces in ice cube trays. Then once frozen put in freezer bags. Keep all broth and save for soup starters. (Chicken, Beef and even potato)

10. Freezing casseroles – Freeze cooked or uncooked casseroles by lining dish with foil. Either cook, cool then wrap or just double wrap with foil and put in large freezer bag. Label and date. When re-heating it is best to defrost then warm up. If not cook @ 350 for double the time.

11.Cookie dough, muffin mixes – When making cookies, muffins, pancakes on the weekend make extra then freeze some for the week.


Coke Roast or Brisket
8-10 lb. roast or brisket, then add chili sauce, Lipton onion soup mix, and a can of coke in the round baking system. Cook @ 250 for 6-7 hrs.

Beef Ribs
Cook ribs in Rectangular Baking System for 1 hr on 250 with 1 can of beer. Drain then cook another hour with grape jelly and 2 bottles of chili sauce.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken (or any roasted chicken recipe) then Chicken Pot Pie (leftover chicken, cream of chicken soup, onion, mixed vegetables then top with biscuits for crust)

Shepards Pie: Ground Beef, onions, corn, cream of mushroom soup then top with mashed potatoes. Great recipe to make from leftovers.

Helpful Hints on Preparing:

**Clean out your freezer and refrigerator the day before planning your meals and shopping.

**Have a family meeting so everyone can vote on what’s on the meal list.

**Make your full menu for your two weeks. Keep in mind you will not have to cook all of the items on your menu ahead of time—only the foods that need a lot of preparation or that can be completed and frozen. For instance, if you are planning hamburgers on the grill, you only need to shape the burgers and freeze them.

** Get out all of your recipes and cookbooks that you might need to pull from.

**Make your shopping list (using pencil). This will be your Master List. You will need to alter the quantity of many items on your list several times as you go through each recipe.

**Make photocopies of your final two lists to use for future meals.

After your list is completed:

**Go through your freezer and cupboards. Highlight any item you may already have before you go shopping.

**Before shopping, clean off you counter tops. You will need the space!

Helpful Hints for Shopping:

**Shop the day before the day you plan to cook.

**Go to your “bulk” store first and get any items that you need in bigger quantities. This will save you money.

**Go to your regular grocery store (without children if possible)

**Shop the inner isles first. Then produce, bakery, and frozen last.

**As you shop, highlight in a different color. This will help you when you come home and know if it should be form the bags, the cupboard or the freezer.

** Pull any frozen foods that need to thaw for cooking and place in the refrigerator. (Do this shopping day)

**Pull any items from the cupboards and group ingredients for each recipe on your counter.

Helpful Hints for Cooking Day

**Put an empty garbage can at easy access. Have a bag available for items that can be recycled.

**Pull out all pans and utensils you will be suing for this project. (If you do not have enough large pots, you may want to borrow from a friend)

**Wash dishes as you go. Let one group soak while you preparing the next meal. When it’s the last time you will use a utensil, have the dishwater empty and fill as you finish.

** Wear an apron to keep clean, dry dishtowel in pocket. Have enough towels on hand, as you will use several.

**Write down the start and finish times of foods that are cooking at the same time.

**Tape the recipes to the kitchen cupboard where they can be easily be seen. (With messy hands, this really helps.)

**Chop and prepare all fresh foods at the beginning, grouping in recipe amounts that are called for.

**Plan to do nothing else in the morning. You must be in the kitchen stirring and watching pots.

**Turn on the answering machine, put on your favorite music and have you favorite beverage ready. (Coffee, tea, soda, wine, etc.)

**Make your lunch when you make your children’s in the morning. (Even in the summer or on weekends, get this done first.)

**If you have small children, trade baby sitting with a friend who also wants to cook Ten at a Time on a different day. (Or this would be perfect QUALITY time with Dad)

**DO NOT cook and shop on the same day!

**As you finish a meal, cool on racks away from your cooking area. (kitchen table, etc.)

**Start you longest cooking recipes first, so by the time you finish that last “quick” one, the first one will be completed.

**After you recipe has cooled off, store in zip-lock bags in appropriate sizes for individual meals.

**Keep and running list of all frozen dinners. An 8 ½ x 11 magnetic marker board works great for this.

**As you finish a recipe and you still have items (canned or frozen) that needed to be added on the day you serve the meal, put an X on the label and explain to your family they ARE BOT to eat this ahead of time. (You may even make a special box, shelf or section for these items)

**Any cheese or bread crumbs that need to be added in the final stages of cooking, measure the amount needed and put in small zip-lock bag and tape to the side or top of the freezer container.

**Pull the next night’s dinner out of the freezer the night before.

**Treat yourself! Eat out of cooking day!

You may not want to be tied to your calendar, but you just want to have your favorite meals in the freezer to use as you please. Just cross it off your master list as you use it!
Until we "meat" again, break an "egg"

TX Chef Fran
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Old 05-09-2004, 11:36 AM
amberlane's Avatar
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Start out slow---fixing double batches and freezing one, or mini sessions when something is on sale or you get a good deal (or when the garden is overloaded).
When I buy hamburger I either cook it all(boil in my big stockpot with the pasta insert- makes draining easier) and package it into meal size portions (pint or quart freezer bags) or make up meatloaves/meatballs etc.-I use the same recipe-flash freeze the meatballs and hamburger patties so that you can throw them in freezer bags and just take out what you need. I freeze my meatloaf in containers shaped to fit my crockpot so I can just throw a frozen meatloaf into my crockpot in the morning and supper is ready that night. You can also freeze hamberger servings with spices or seasonings if you wish-cook your onion in the hamburger-or fix part with mexican or italian seasonings or pizza seasonings etc---and you can do the same with any ground meat-chicken, turkey, beef, pork, etc.
Onions can be chopped up/sliced (whatever) and frozen too-snack size bags are about right for 1-2 recipes-just throw all the snack size bags into a big gallon+ size freezer bag. (I haven't done this with peppers, althought I know other poeple do). Great way to preserve garden produce or make use of store sales.
you can also freeze eggs-just break them open, mix the yoke a little or a lot-freeze in ice cube trays and throw in freezer bags. each "cube" is equal to about 1 egg, and works great for recipes or scrambled eggs/omlettes.
If you have favorite recipes your family likes and you aren't sure if it will freeze well, try freezing one serving when you make it and see if you like it-if you do, you can just make double or triple batches and freeze the extra for future meals.
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Old 05-09-2004, 04:37 PM
Jill P's Avatar
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Posts: 28
Ask and Ye Shall Receive!

Hi TX Chef Fran,

Thanks for all that wonderful info. I've transferred the info to a folder in my files so that I can refer back to it. Talk about a loaded document! So much good stuff you shared!

You asked about where I'm at in Florida. I'm in the NW Panhandle area of the state. Nowhere near your family, but probably on the way if you ever drive it.

I have a couple of questions about some things I didn't understand in your post. I'm confused about the "round cooking system" and the "rectangular cooking system." Is this codespeak for crockpot and oven, or am I missing some vital piece of info??

Jill P
Jill in FL
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Old 05-09-2004, 04:44 PM
Jill P's Avatar
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More Great Ideas

Hi Amber,

I like the idea about the onions in the snack baggies! I'd also never heard of the eggs thing. That sounds so easy!

Another bonus of cooking your hamburg in the water would be having more of the excess fat removed by cooking using that method.

When you prep a meatloaf for your slow cooker, how thick do you make the loaf? And do you make it small enough so that you have some room all the way around it, it does it nearly fit to the sides?

I also like the idea of freezing just a single serving of something to determine one's personal preference of the re-heating results of something before taking the plunge with an entire dish.

Jill P.
Jill in FL
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Old 05-10-2004, 04:17 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 16,238

One thing I haven't seen yet is preparation. You will need lots of storage containers, especially as you are wanting to seperate these into smaller meals.

This is a good time of year to be looking at yard sales for freezer storage containers. You can also use margarine contaienrs, sour cream, etc. you can't microwave with them, you can but you shouldn't due to carcinogens (sp?) in that type of plastic but you can run them under hot water and they will pop right out.

I have a Tilia food saver but do not recommend buying one. They are a huge investment and alot of bother to use. I keep saving mine because I spent so much money on it, over $150.00 but have not used it in several years. Others will argue that it works for them but until you decide what works best for you, I would hold off on buying one of those.

You can also make up batches of cookie dough, shape in a log and freeze or bake cookies and freeze for later. The cookie dough, just let thaw for a hour or so, slice and bake as usual.

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Old 05-10-2004, 04:23 AM
Jill P's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 28
Still Another Great Idea


Thanks for mentioning the use of lots of smaller containers. I used to have a huge collection of those and de-cluttered them because I wasn't using them. I guess it's time to start saving those again!

I already have a food saver, but have found that in order to use it successfully, anything that has liquid in it must be frozen before using the vacuum sealer or else the liquid oozes right up and the bag won't seal. I was very frustrated about my big investment until someone shared that info with me!

Jill P
Jill in FL
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Old 05-10-2004, 04:48 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 16,238
Mine came with a video so I knew to look for that.

Also, don't forget freezer tape or labels.

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Old 05-13-2004, 09:33 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: SouthernCalifornia
Posts: 170
labeling frozen food

I like to use a black permanent marker to write on the bags and containers that i freeze. Even on the non bag containers like Tupperware, Rubbermaid, butter tubs ets. to remove the ink just use a little rubbing alchol on a paper towel or cotton ball. So much for the idea"permanent marker", but it stays put until then.So far i havent had any problem with staining with this method and i dont have to worry about a label or tape coming off in the freezer. Happy day all!!
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Old 05-13-2004, 10:10 AM
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When I make my meatloaf in the crockpot from fresh hamburger, I usually try to keep a little space between the meatloaf and the crockpot-because I have the newer crockpots that seem to be hotter and sometimes the edges over cook if they are touching the crockpot. When I freeze my meatloaf, I just use a rubbermaid or tupperware type container that is similar in size and shape to one of my crockpots-so I can just pop out the frozen meatloaf and put it in the crockpot. Crumple up aluminum foil in the bottom, or quartered/halved potatoes-the excess fat drains off into the bottom.
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