See a letter from Ellen about the donation campaign. Your help matters!

Back to where
you came from

Once a month cooking (OAMC) for singles and couples

A word from Ellen about batch cooking for bachelors and other singles

People ask, living alone, do you really cook for yourself? The answer is yes; it is very easy for me to gain weight, and when I "eat out" a lot I balloon to Hindenberg proportions. Plus, I work a night schedule. If I have not planned and prepared meals, I don't have a tasty or convenient midnight meal and am often too tired or rushed to get meals that have the calcium, vegetables and fruits I need.

So I practice batch cooking or "Once a Month Cooking" (OAMC). As a result, I rarely "cook dinner". Instead, I am able to assemble and prepare a really good dinner in less than 20 minutes, with few or no pots to wash, and always enough to share with a friend. These days, many people consider a pleasant home-cooked meal a real treat.

Maybe I should call mine "once in a while" cooking, since it is usually every two or three weeks that I settle into a morning of serious cooking and house cleaning. My basic approach is never to waste time or energy in the kitchen. If the oven is on, I fill it; if I'm in the kitchen anyway, I put something in the crockpot. I shop and cook to make best use of my time, buying some items frozen or partially prepared, and often shop right before I cook so that the items don't go into the refrigerator or freezer until they are trimmed and cooked, which saves a lot of space. I use several appliances regularly, including two crockpots, a Braun multifunction blender/food processor and a bread machine. These days, I have only a refrigerator freezer, but I still manage to keep several items prepared and frozen.

What I do is make recipes for 6 or 8 servings and freeze all but two. I also have a refrigerator freezer- so I don't freeze the bulky stuff like noodles- I cook up a bunch of onions, celery, peppers etc, all the things that are tedious and time consuming on a tiny serving basis, mix and freeze with the rest of the ingredients. Then day of, whomp up the noodles or rice, then mix in the goodies and yay, good food in a quick minute.

Usually, the idea is to cook up a month of food in a day or weekend. For a single person, even with guest portions, that is only 15 or so pounds of food. A bag of frozen veggies is a pound and a quarter, so you are talking 10-12 bags wroth of volume. If your freezer will hold that much, you can do it.

I use the cook a frozen turkey method every couple of months when I do this. It takes just a few hours. Bone it out, make great soup with the carcass. Lots of good meals from this.

Working on less meat in the diet? I also freeze tofu, then thaw, then use crumbled in ground beef recipes. It's good. The Bean stifado recipe variation in the recipe box is delicious and freezes well. The unchuck roast makes a GREAT base for any beef type recipe: start it cooking the night before, and it is ready to OAMC with the next morning.

One recipe for 10 from the vegetarian OAMC page would be a generous start for you. Such as the mac and uncheese. I often stir in a bunch of frozen uncooked mixed veggies before freezing for a one pot take to work meal.