Cooking ahead, just once

When I began working at the News-Times, my children had 10 days of summer vacation left. I thought it might be a problem keeping them occupied during the day.
No problem, as far as they were concerned. They prefer to stay up late and sleep in until noon.
They also preferred to not vacuum, not load the dishwasher and not put the clothes through the wash machine. They had no problem with eating all the cold cuts, hot dogs and junk food we had in the house.
I had a problem. Especially since they come home from school to eat lunch. And then eat an afternoon snack that looks like a meal before supper. Working was about to cost me a lot of money in the less nutritious, more expensive convenience foods. I reminded the ‘consumers’ that those food items were for emergencies or treats, not a regular diet and looked for a solution to the cupboard-emptying-hungries.
Then, I remembered meeting Jennifer Dyck Cherry in the hallway at church carrying a cookbook called “Once a Month Cooking” by Meme Wilson and Marybeth LaGerborg.
Have you actually tried that?” I asked.
“For the last couple months,” Jennifer said. “I shop one day and cook the main dishes to store in the freezer the next day.”
“Pretty big freezer,” I commented.
“It was a tight squeeze, but it all fit into the freezer above our refrigerator,” she replied.
I thought I would try to cook ahead for a week.
Bright and early Saturday morning I grabbed a variety of pork, beef chicken and fish from our deep freeze, hauled out a hodgepodge of pots and pans from the cupboards and snatched a couple teens from their beds.
Soon meats were frying, baking and boiling for stews, casseroles or set aside for nuking in the micro-wave. We boiled eggs, pasta and potatoes. As we laid out ingredients for our projected list of dishes, the pantry deficiencies demanded that we begin a belated shopping list.
The list of things we wanted to make grew longer. “If you are making pumpkin bread, could you also make banana bread?”
Yes, WE could, if WE bought a few more items.
Fighting the Saturday traffic snarls in the grocery store aisles, we split up the list and went our separate ways.
We merged at the check-out with more than we were sent to find.
The cookies went back, they would make their own.
Home again, we peeled, diced, chopped and stirred the rest of the afternoon. Towards evening we began scrubbing, scouring and sweeping up the mess.
As the evening news came one, we had a clean kitchen and no supper. After all that work, I hated to have any of the food eaten. I wanted it to last for a week. Begrudgingly, I served the meal I had planned for the evening.
I don’t know what all my fuss was about. Even with two kids eating away it three and four times a day the food lasted two weeks.
It’s a good idea.
I haven’t done it again.