Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday #4 (OAMC Food Coop)

After last week's post and this Monday's Menu Planner, I had some fellow bloggers ask about OAMC...Once A Month Cooking. I thought that I would share how our OAMC Food-Coop works and share some recipes. I actually have our Food Exchange Meeting on Thursday. There are six wonderful ladies in our group...we meet every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on what's happening to exchange our meals and plan for the next month. Each lady will prepare 2 meals, we divide those meal in half...for example, I am making Honey Pecan Chicken this month, the recipe calls for 8 Chicken breast, when I pack it up to freeze, I will put 4 chicken breast in the zip-lock bag instead of 8...this will give most of the families in our group 2 meals...I have to serve 8 pieces for my family. The same with a lasagna, for example, instead of preparing it in a 9 x 13 pan, it's prepared in an 8 x8 pan, therefore, 2 meals. When we meet this Thursday, I am bringing 12 bags of Honey Pecan Chicken and 12 pans of Farmer's Casseroles. When I go home after our planning meeting, I will have 24 plus meals (I had originally wrote that we got 36 mind is frozenfrom the ice storm!) in my freezer for the next month...

Why does this work for me? We are a very busy family of four, before OAMC, I would spend easily $200.00 week on groceries and we would eat out 2 or 3 times a week because of our busy evenings. Since OAMC, I have an inventory sheet of what is in my freezer, I plan our menus based on our activities...if we are all gone one evening, it's usually a crock pot of the bags of chicken meals can be placed in the CP and will be ready anytime we get home to eat. It also has saved me lots of $$$$, we have a budget of $125.00 to prepare our meals for that month. I am getting 24 meals for $125.00!!! All I need to pick up at the grocery store is sides, lettuce for salads, snacks (fresh fruit/veggies, cereal bars, etc), cereal for breakfast and milk. No major entrees to be purchased. I am saving about $600.00 a month on groceries! That works for me!!! And what's more, is my family enjoys having dinner on the table each evening and not waiting for Mom to figure out what we are going to have!

This month my OAMC Food Coop meals are Honey Pecan Chicken and Farmer's Casserole. (Both recipes are from the book Don't Panic-Dinner's in the Freezer by Martinez, Howell & Garcia) Below is the recipe and freezing instructions for anyone who would like to start the OAMC don't need a group, just double a recipe once one and freeze the other. Before long you will have meals in the freezer ready and waiting for you! It's really a great concept....I don't know why I didn't start this earlier! more thing....I keep a notebook with a copy of all of my Freezer Recipes (even my own so I will have a record of what we have tried & liked) so I will know how to prepare them when it's time to cook them. Also, if someone else cooked it, you have the recipe to make on your own, if it's one of your families favorite! The first page of the notebook is my inventory sheet and the remainder of the notebook is divided into sections like Beef, Chicken, Soups, Casseroles, etc.

Honey Pecan Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup olive oil
2 t fresh thyme, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Honey cream sauce:
2 T butter
1 T shallots, minced
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup whiskey
1 cup whipping cream
2 T honey
1 T cider vinegar
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Serving Day:
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup flour
Olive oil

Cooking day instructions:
For the chicken: Mix olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in freezer bags (I use a Foodsaver- for items like this-see button on side for ordering info), then pour olive oil mixture over chicken breasts. Freeze (lay them flat in freezer so they freezer flat)

For the sauce: Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Saute shallots in butter until tender. Add orange juice and whiskey over medium heat, and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by one half. Add cream. Continue cooking until slightly thickened. Add honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cool. Freeze separately. using freezer bag method.

Serving day instructions:
Thaw chicken breast and cream sauce. Mix chopped pecans and flour together. Dredge chicken breast in flour mixture. Heat a small amount of olive oil in large skillet. Pan fry chicken breast until golden brown and cooked through. Heat sauce over low heat until warm; do not boil.

To serve, place chicken on individual serving dishes and pour cream sauce over chicken breasts.

Farmer's Casserole

3 cups frozen shredded has brown potatoes (24 oz bag)
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (3-4 oz)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3-4 oz)
1 cup diced ham or Canadian-style bacon (5 oz)
1 4.5 oz can mild green chiles (optional)
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
4 beaten eggs (or 1 cup frozen egg product)
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t salt

Cooking day instructions:
Grease a 2 quart square baking dish. Arrange potatoes evenly in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with cheeses, ham, green chiles, and green onions. In medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, pepper and salt. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture in dish. (If not freezing, cover and chill several house or overnight, then follow serving day suggestions.) Freeze.

Serving day instructions:
Thaw completely. Bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until center appears set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. If you prefer extra shredded cheese can be sprinkled on top during the last 15 minutes of baking.


The Wooden Porch said...

Great idea! I have one girlfriend who wants to get together and do these sorts of meals with me. (but she just had a baby yesterday, so that may be a long time coming...)

Loni said...

Farmer's Casserole looks so good I think we'll have it for dinner tonight. Thanks for the great info and recipes!

Justice Fergie said...

omigoodness! this is so great. some friends and I do "Dream Dinners at Home" where we get together and make freeze-ahead meals using the DD cookbook. But we usually come out of there with one week's worth of meals -- I couldn't imagine 36!! i will definitely try to get this going.


I've been hearing great things about your freezer cookbook too.

mistihollrah said...

Oopps...I figured the number of meals that we take home wrong...we take home 24 instead of 36 for our monthly budget of $125.00. Even that is still an excellent deal!

Jen said...

I really, REALLY want to try this. My only fear is that people won't like the meals I prepare and kick me out of my own group-lol. But seriously, I'm not that confident in my cooking abilities. Also, how do you all decide what types of meals you would want to include. How did you start your group?

Kitschy-Koo said...

Thanks for posting how you have worked it out. I love big batch cooking, saving time and money. I'd love to take it to the next level and go in with a friend.