The shopping went smoothly. With list in hand, I dutifully circumnavigated the entire grocery store without making a single impulse purchase...except toilet paper. You really can never have too much toilet paper, and besides, it's not part of the food budget. Back home, I unloaded the goods, and set to work on slicing, dicing, chopping, and cooking anything that needed to be prepared in advance. You see, I had done my homework: shop and chop one day, cook and freeze the next day. Some people split up the shopping and chopping in to two days, but not me; I was a go-getter. The next day, after the kids were off to school and after having my second cup of coffee, I was ready to cook. It took all morning, but I did a heck of a job. Yay me! I made sure to buy heavy duty freezer bags and I carefully spooned my hundred dollars' worth of food into each bag, labeled them, and stored them in the freezer: 32 bags = 32 meals. Yes!!! I was done cooking dinner for a month.
Well, as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Actually, that's the lazy version of the saying. It should be, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The first week of freshly frozen meals went fine. Fast forward to weeks 3 and 4. Both my husband and I had that fake smile that clearly says, I'm trying to be polite, but honestly, this sucks. Kids, as you may know, are not that kind and subtle. I don't know what it was: freezer burn, freezer odor, whatever. I tried different recipes the following month, but ended up with similar results. Not all recipes did poorly. The Dump Chicken recipes here and here did pretty well. Nevertheless, I was an OAMC flunkie.
This may sound heretical, but contrary to what you may read, OAMC is quite a bit of work. You just do all of the work in two or three days. And, I still had to prep side dishes. And, I noticed that dinner took longer to cook because it was frozen. Using the oven or even the crockpot during the hot summer would be an issue. The real root of my problem was not a lack of prepared meals, it was a lack of planning in general. I tried cooking on the fly, but I always ended up spending too much money, and panicking at the last minute. I am a planner by nature.
Currently, I spend between $40-$50 per week on groceries. Today, I spent $49.10. I don't think that's too bad for a family of four. Scratch cooking, the pantry principle, and monthly meal planning help to keep my grocery budget in check. I use my Google calendar to write in meals. In the Description box, I can copy and paste a web address that has the recipe I want. I haven't started December's meal list yet. I'm probably going to borrow heavily from October's meal list. Fortunately, we're having Christmas turkey dinner at our house, which means leftovers. Woo hoo! I love leftover turkey sandwiches, and no, I don't do turkey enchiladas. Turkey pot pies – maybe. Let the fun begin.