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Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends as many as 49 hours a year just shopping for food, and an additional 288 hours per year preparing that food.

      So it comes as no surprise that Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) has become an increasingly popular way to save time and money. The basic premise is simple: devote just one day a month to cooking in bulk, using your freezer to extend the shelf-life of your prepared meals.

      But does OAMC cooking live up to the hype? Can it really save you a significant amount of time each month? And is it really cheaper than cooking several times per day? Here are the pros and cons of this method of cooking.

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      What’s the Deal?

      Once a Month Cooking allegedly offers a couple of benefits. Aside from the obvious conveniences of having a freezer stocked full of all your favorite foods, there’s something to be said for making a commitment to cook meals by the multiples, as this makes you more likely to purchase goods in bulk. Since buying in bulk is almost always cheaper, planning meals on a large scale can actually work out to be slightly cheaper than making a larger number of much smaller meals.

      Unless you have a very small family (read: you’re single with two cats) it is pretty hard to get all this cooking done in a single day, so many OAMC cooks view a single weekend as their once-a-month cooking date. And no matter how you cut the numbers, only having to cook twice a month is pretty awesome. Reheating food is definitely easier than compiling a full meal and cooking it from scratch.

      Pros

      Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) has plenty of benefits for both big families and working singles. By committing to buying and cooking in bulk at home, you can reap several rewards.

      1. Shop just once a month

      As the hourly breakdown in the beginning of this article showed, we spend almost an entire working week EVERY YEAR just shopping for food. While this number is lower for men than it is for women, the fact remains that shopping is a major time suck. By making one big trip instead of dozens of short ones, you save a ton of time. And gas.

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      2. Perfect for busy families

      Maybe you have a commute that’s over an hour, limiting your available cooking time drastically by the time you actually walk through the door. Maybe you have a family that rarely eats together due to work, sports, or other after-school activities. Regardless, having a stockpile of ready made meals in single servings is a great way accommodate busy schedules.

      3. You extend the shelf life of fresh meats, seafood, and produce

      If you are freezing all your meals and ingredients, this means that you can extend the life of perishable goods that might otherwise slowly deteriorate in the back of your fridge.

      4. A great way to spend time with family

      Cooking is a great way to bond and build relationships with your family, and there will be plenty of need for extra hands in the kitchen when you are cooking enough food to last for 30 days.

      5. Surprisingly convenient for new parents

      OAMC is actually great for new moms: baby food is super easy to make in massive batches. Tricia of the blog “Once a Month Mom” says she got her start in the realm of OAMC “while on modified bed rest with my first pregnancy…With the technical help of my husband, I was encouraged to take my once a month cooking skills and apply them to a blog. It seemed like a great way to share my created menus with others….I have taken this love into the baby realm and started preparing once a month baby food menus as well. I…am so blessed to be able to stay home with my little one, to be learning how to save money, trying to make the most out of life, and doing the “chores” once a month so I can enjoy more time with my family!”

      Cons

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      Not everyone is a fan of OAMC, and many argue that the benefits are overrated when you examine the drawbacks inherent in this style of cooking.

      1. Your freezer is probably too small

      Here’s the thing about freezing meals. Yeah, your home freezer has a decent amount of space…but once you start using it TO freeze, rather than to KEEP food frozen, you will find that it takes a long time to chill down. You generally want to limit the amount of new food you put into a freezer at one time to 2 pounds per cubic foot, which means you run out of room quick. Unless you have a stand alone chest freezer, or can pony up the dough to invest in one, this is a big problem. Even if you make enough food, where do you put it?

      2. Organizing is a pain

      You need to clearly label all foods, and also date them to ensure proper rotation before their shelf life is up. And organizing your shopping list and cooking schedule can be just as tedious. You’ve only got a set number of burners and oven space, so maximizing your cooking area and cooking time requires forethought.

      3. Hidden costs

      Clean up is a breeze with OAMC, as many foods can be warmed in their storage containers. However, you may spend more money on disposable pans, foils, butcher paper, etc. In addition, you may face added energy costs due to the electricity required to run a large enough freezer to store the frozen dinners.

      4. OAMC is limiting to people with adventurous palates

      Not all ingredients freeze well, limiting you as to the types and styles of cooking you can enjoy while sticking to OAMC.

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      Conclusion

      OAMC is a perfect fit for some families, and despised by others. Experiment with it on a trial basis to see if it’s right for you. Maybe, just maybe, it will be the time-saving hack you’ve been looking for.

      Resources and Further Reading

      http://onceamonthmom.com/
      http://onceamonthcook.com/

      Once a Month Cooking

      http://magnoliasouthc.blogspot.com/2011/01/solving-few-once-month-cooking-oamc-or.html

      Who would like to cook once a month?

      http://www.frugalmom.net/blog/2010/05/7-steps-to-once-a-month-cooking/

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      Tucker Cummings

      Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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      Last Updated on March 24, 2021

      8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

      8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

      We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

      On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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      Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

      1. Smart Door Locks

      A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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      2. Smart Kitchen Tools

      Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

      3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

      If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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      4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

      These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

      5. Nest Thermostat

      This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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      6. Smart Lighting

      Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

      7. Google Chromecast Ultra

      Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

      8. Canary

      This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

      Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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