I have been doing this for over a year now whenever I am about to start acting again. When I'm not in a show, I have a lot more time to cook for the family, so I just cook every night for dinner. That all changes when I have been cast in a show or have signed a new contract. Once a month cooking becomes my family's best friend to make meal time relaxing instead of a scramble as I head out the door to rehearsal.
1. Use someone else's planning. There are lots of bloggers and websites out there that have menu plans, shopping list and day of cooking steps. Use them! Don't try to create your own plan your first time out. Enjoy all of the free resources out there. My two favorite are the free archives from Once a Month Meals and New Leaf Wellness. Also check out my Pinterest board for lots more ideas and recipes.
2. Start off small. Don't try to tackle having a dinner for every night of the month. Try pre-making three meals a week and maybe a lunch or two. Once you have the hang out that, add a couple more the next month.
3. Get a babysitter and cook alone. Trying a full day of cooking with kids around is not something I recommend. You will be able to work quickly and efficiently without little ones under foot.
4. Label everything. Either print labels with what the meal is, how to thaw and prepare it or simply write it on your freezer page with a sharpie. This will make it easier to see what you have and how to prepare it.
5. Plan some crockpot freezer meals. These are a gem to have on your cooking day because you simply dumb all the ingredients into the bag, label and freeze. All that is required is having the ingredients, a little chopping and can opening. It's a great time saver.
6. Switch out what doesn't work. If there was a meal you didn't care for, or you thought of a better way to do something, switch it for the next month. Make a schedule and plan what works for you and your family.
Now that I've found this method of cooking, I won't go back to a traditional meal plan. With a little planning, one day of shopping and one day of cooking, I save myself hours throughout the month. I also know that I am providing healthy and nutritious meals giving myself and my family the energy we need to tackle whatever we need to accomplish. That makes this mother of 4 a happy lady!
p.s. check out this great list of whole food blogs or how I work out with all four kids.