There's been quite a favorable response to Once-A-Month Cooking! I'd like to answer some of the questions I've gotten and offer some helpful tips in getting the most out of your assembly day without dropping from exhaustion!
*If you are cooking with a friend or two - divvy up the prepping responsibilities. I can't stand deboning chicken. My two partners don't mind. So, in exchange for doing the chicken, I handle the cheese, onions and ground beef.
*Brown all necessary ground meat and cook and debone all chicken you will need prior to assembly day. This is just too much work to do the day of!!!
*Chop all onions and peppers prior to assembly day. To really make life easier, if you have a food processor, process all onions and freeze them in 1 cup clumps. Nothing makes things easier on assembly day than reaching into the cooler and grabbing premeasured clumps to pop into your recipe!
*Grate cheese prior to assembly day as well. If you have a food processor, it'll definitely make things go faster. But, you can still grate large amounts with old fashioned graters and extra helping hands. My daughter and I grated 20 cups of cheese in about an hour.
*If you are cooking on your own and it seems that assembling it all on one day is too much, do it over a series of days. Chop all veggies and grate all cheese first. Then, handle the meats. Assemble all Chicken dishes on one day and then do the ground meat/other meat recipes on another day.
*Make your own cream soup. It's easy, cheap and healthier too! To make 1 cup (= 1 can) Cream soup:
*Melt 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat.
*Add 1/4 tsp salt and stir
*Stir in 3 Tbsp flour of your choice and blend well.
*Add 1 cup of water or milk of your choice or chicken broth
*Increase heat and stir until thickened.
After it's thickened, (depending on the recipe), I like to add garlic powder, mushrooms (if it's for Cream of Mushroom soup) or grated cheese.
This recipe can easily be made for those gluten free needs! (Do this prior to assembly day)
*1 lb of raw ground meat = 2 1/2 cups of browned ground meat.
*The night before the big session, make sure you have non-perishables laid out. If you will be cooking at someone else's home, make sure you also have coolers handy to pack up the perishables.
*The morning of, eat a good breakfast!!!! Pack power snacks and take mini-breaks when necessary. But, don't sit too long or else you won't want to get up!!!
*Leave major clean up for the morning after!
*A few things to consider as you are planning your own assembly session:
- Shop the sales and plan your meals around things that are on sale. If it's around Thanksgiving, plan more turkey based meals, etc, etc.
- Don't be afraid to try new recipes and tweak them as necessary.
- Be flexible with your list of recipes. No matter how well you plan, there's always too much of one ingredient and not enough of another. Have fun creating something new!
After your hard days work, enjoy the fruit of your labor!
Also: Why Once-a-Month Cooking and Today's Once-a-Month Cooking Session