Sunday, February 13, 2011

OAMC and "dump" recipes

A stack of a few dump recipes.
When I was pregnant and going through my "do everything possible to prepare for this baby" phase, I wanted to make some meals to freeze so we could just pop them out when we were having a particularly hectic day or were extremely tired but needed to eat.

I stumbled upon a slew of Web sites and recipes for Once a Month Cooking (OAMC), where the premise is that you spend one extended period of time (an afternoon, a Saturday, etc.) preparing meals ... for the month. Some people split their OAMC weekend in to grocery shopping for ingredients on Saturday, cook on Sunday. (The rest of the month? Eat.) While I wasn't ready to go cooking away my entire maternity leave in a few short days with recipes that I had never tried, I thought it was interesting, and I tried several of the recipes.

While I was researching freezer meals and OAMC, I also found several "dump" recipes. I'd like to rename these "How can this be so easy?" Basically, you take a few ingredients, dump them in a freezer bag, and ta-da! You're done. When you're ready to cook them, you take them out of the freezer the night before and thaw them out. They marinate as they thaw, providing a flavorful and moist dish in less than an hour when you cook them.

A few weeks ago, I went through some of the recipes I had made for after Elle's birth, found a few new ones and then stocked up on the chicken and pork chops that were on sale at the grocery store. I purchased a few other ingredients and a new box of freezer bags.

Tim and I were going to watch a movie that night, but I asked him to wait half an hour while I worked in the kitchen. In about 30 minutes, I had assembled six or seven meals to freeze. Theoretically, that's a week of food in half an hour. SO. EASY. Other bonuses? They don't take up much room in the freezer, they usually only dirty the dish you cook them in (yay, freezer bag!), they can be reasonably healthy (most of the ones I've made feature ingredients like mustard, soy sauce, honey, fruit preserves, etc.), they're cheap, the recipes are easy to change the portion-size on (Tim and I do not need to eat six pounds of chicken), and there are so many recipes and options in preparing them (one of my favorites includes directions for baking or cooking in the crock pot). Tim can be a picky eater, and there hasn't been a dump recipe yet that he didn't like.

The only problem I've had with any of my freezer meals came when I tried to cook a frozen ziti casserole. The thing would. not. thaw. Therefore, it would. not. cook. And it was huge, so I probably should have explored smaller portion options.

I always forget to take pictures of my dinners when I make them - for some reason, I'm much better about taking photos of desserts. I wanted to share these as soon as possible, though, so here are links to some of the recipes I've tried:

Honey Dump Pork Chops

Honey Dump Sesame Chicken

Maple Mustard Chicken

Easy Orange Chicken

Pineapple Dump Chicken

You can Google OAMC or dump recipes and you'll find a ton of information and recipes. Many soups and pasta dishes are easy to freeze, and I can't tell you how convenient these meals can be. Think about it: You come home from work or from picking the kids up at school, and instead of starting from scratch, you empty your thawed freezer bag in to a casserole dish, and in 20-45 minutes, you have dinner.

If you've made any freezer meals or try any that you love, please let me know so I can add them to my arsenal :)


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