Many years ago, my mom used to do the once-a-month cooking plan. She would spend a day busy in the kitchen and then freeze everything. Unfortunately, she used to make Hamburger Helper. As a vegetarian, mom didn’t realize that when you defrosted pasta, it turned watery and rather gross. (Once it was mixed with ground beef, she refused to eat it.) My father and I knew how hard she worked to cook, so neither of us ever said anything. One night, my dad came home from work late and noticed that there was defrosted Hamburger Helper waiting for him.
“Ugh,” I remember him saying. “Defrosted noodles. Yuck.”
“I know,” I agreed. “But don’t say anything. We don’t want to hurt mom’s feelings.”
Little did I know that my mom was walking down the stairs at that moment and overheard us. Rather than being hurt, she laughed. From that point, she pre-cooked the ground meat and made the Hamburger Helper the day it was served. Since that day, my mom has used the defrosted Hamburger Helper to measure how well we like a meal.
I share that story to say that I’ve never really been a fan of once-a-month cooking. For one thing, I don’t have the freezer capacity. Plus, the soggy noodles left a bad impression on me.
However, as I’ve embarked on this money saving journey, I realize that eating at home is the most cost efficient way to eat. It’s also far healthier. I enjoy cooking, but it’s a chore after working all day and surviving rush hour. I’ve gradually, started cooking a few times a week and eating the leftovers for the remainder of my meals.
On Sunday, I woke up and realized that this week is likely to be insane. I have an extra church service to start the Lenten season, a few meetings and the biggest conference of the year for my professional field. I spent the morning scrubbing my apartment down and cooking four meals for the upcoming week. Living alone, food stretches pretty far.
In little over an hour, I made four meals that should get me through the week. Most of them were healthy and inexpensive. Recipes are listed on my cooking blog.
Since it’s cold outside, I opted for lentils and rice, which is a comfort meal to me. It’s not particularly healthy, but it’s super cheap to make.
I also made Chili Soup in my Crock Pot, which is extremely healthy and easy to make. It’s quickly become one of my favorite meals.
For a change, I defrosted some tilapia fillets and marinated them in a mixture of salsa, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Coming from a Cajun family, I naturally like my food spicy, and this recipe has a bit of zing to it. I marinated the fillets overnight and cooked them for 30 minutes at 400 F.
I also whipped up some Snowed-In Deviled Eggs, which were once again yummy.
If this works out, I’ll try to make a habit of the weekly cooking. One hour on a Sunday beats coming home from work and staring at the contents of my pantry waiting for something to magically appear on a plate. It also gives me better control over my diet to ensure that it stays healthy.