How once a month cooking saves me time and money

Confession: I’m not a big fan of raw poultry. It’s slimy, it’s cold, and it smells kind of funny. I just don’t care for it.

I do enjoy eating chicken, though, as does the fam. So I’m forced to man-up and deal with it every now and then.

Recently, I devised a way to keep the chicken-handling to a minimum. The best part: a little extra hands-on time at the beginning of each month saves me time and money for the next four weeks.

At the beginning of each month, I buy the chicken that we’ll need for that month’s meals. Since I plan our suppers one month at a time, I already know what meals I’ll be preparing that require chicken.

I bake the chicken (usually boneless skinless breasts or thighs) on a cookie sheet, then I shred it using my KitchenAid while it’s still hot.

Mother on a Mission: Once a Month Chicken

Next, I portion the shredded chicken into freezer bags based on the amount I need for each recipe. For example, if I’m making oven-fried chimichangas twice this month, and that recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken, I’ll fill two freezer bags with 1 1/2 cups of chicken.

Mother on a Mission: Once a Month Chicken

I put each of those smaller bags into a larger one labeled with the name of the recipe and the portion size. The whole thing goes in the freezer. When it’s time to make the recipe, I just remove an individual bag and stick it in the fridge overnight to thaw.

Mother on a Mission: Once a Month Chicken

My reasons for loving this method are threefold. First, I only have to deal with raw chicken once a month, and even then, I’m touching the chicken very little.

Second, I eliminate the most time consuming part of most meal preparation: cooking the meat. I can whip up a batch of chimichangas in less than ten minutes- not including cooking time- when I’m using precooked chicken. Some nights it seems like all I can do to just get a meal on the table, so I’m all about quick and easy.

Which brings me to my third reason. When preparing a meal takes less time than running to the fast food place around the corner, we end up eating out a lot less. Our wallets and our stomachs are much happier when we’re eating something that I’ve prepared.

Mother on a Mission: Once a Month Chicken

If you aren’t already planning your meals at least a week or two in advance, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. It’s something I’ve been doing for quite a while now. It takes so much of the guesswork and stress out of meal preparation, and it’s nearly eliminated those last minute trips to the grocery store.

I want to know: what tips, tricks, or shortcuts do you use to speed up the supper-making process?

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About Abby

I'm a wife, a mom of two, and a high school teacher who loves to read, bake, cook, and be with my family.
This entry was posted in Food & Recipes, Tips & Tricks and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How once a month cooking saves me time and money

  1. Jen L. says:

    This is brilliant! I have got to try this. If I had my choice, I wouldn’t ever touch the stuff. Just thinking about it makes me cringe. But chicken finds a place on my menu plan 3-4x/weekly.

    Question: How do you bake your chicken? Any seasonings? How long, etc? I tried once and it came out bland tasting and very dry. But I would try again using your “once a month” plan. This would make my life so much easier!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s chicken-averse!

      I bake my chicken plain, simply because the recipes I use it in contain lots of flavorful spices (two of our favorites are oven-fried chimichangas and baked taquitos). In the past I’ve brushed both sides with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper; my husband loved to eat the chicken that way. It’s been a long time since I timed it, because I usually just check it periodically, but I’d say probably 20-25 minutes? The key to having it moist is definitely cooking time.

      You should give the once-a-month strategy a try and let me know what you think!

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