Brief overview of OAMM. Tricia Callahan runs the absolutely and stupendously free OAMM website where each month she posts a monthly menu + recipes + grocery shopping list + day of cooking instructions + printable labels for your food packages. Of all the freezer sites I reviewed, hers was by far the most thorough because she gives you more than just recipes. I'm a details person and details she provides. But, before I committed to stocking my freezer with a month's worth of her meal ideas, I wanted to sample her recipes. So during the summer I made southwestern eggrolls (tasted just like the appetizer you can get at Chili's), breakfast wraps (blueberries, strawberries, vanilla yogurt wrapped in a cinnamon/sugar dusted tortilla) , and italian flank steak pinwheels. All three were oh my goodness delicious! Three homeruns and I was in.
Shopping. Honestly, the shopping seemed the most overwhelming because of the quantity and cost needed to pull off this superhuman feat. Throughout August, as I made my routine grocery trips, I stocked up on the meat and canned goods that I found on sale. Waiting until about four days before our designated OAMM day, I inventoried my kitchen to see what fresh produce and other perishables were needed. Then, armed with two buggies (all I could think the whole time was Oh my gosh, we're that family), Ben and I pushed our way through the grocery store, buying everything we still needed. I did learn a couple things through our shopping experience.
- I could have done a much better job using coupons and saved more $$.
- I should have followed the blogger's advice and started my shopping at Aldi's, moved on to Sam's, and then finished up at a regular grocery store. I think this would have saved us even more money.
- Buying the fresh produce even four days early was too early in some cases. Save that shopping for the day before if possible.
Preparing. As recommended by OAMM, Ben and I spent the night before our big OAMM day prepping our kitchen, dicing veggies, and putting the first round of meats in crockpots to cook while we slept. Extremely glad we followed this advice; it worked out really well. Here's what our kitchen looked like that evening.
Cooking. OAMM estimates that it'll take you between 6-8 hours on your big cooking day, and by the end of it all -- if you include the couple of prep hours from the night before -- it took us about 9ish hours (not bad for a first try). The morning of we put on our comfy clothes, I tied my apron strings on around my growing belly, and we cranked up a groovin' Pandora station! Ben also kept a running commentary of our sometimes (mis)adventure on Twitter - even engaged Tricia Callahan herself in some convo (which was pretty exciting!). The hardest part about cooking for me is I wanted to sample everything as it came out of the oven...but that would kinda defeat the purpose! The smells wafting through our house were nothing short of A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The three dishes I can't wait to try? Ham and potato pockets, baked blueberry french toast (with cream cheese and brown sugar drizzle), and french dip sandwiches. My mouth is watering just thinking about 'em!!
Ben made a fabulous partner in cooking, and even though we were in the kitchen pretty much all day - it didn't seem like a chore. We just had fun with it! And if I can do it 9 months pregnant - anyone can!
For next time. Oh yes! There will be a next time. I had so much fun with this project that I'm pretty antsy for the OAMM September 2010 menu to come out (come on September 1st!). But next time we're enlisting my mom in our shenanigans because she wants to try it and having a third set of hands would have been very helpful the day of. We used every dish, utensil, and cooking ware piece in our kitchen multiple times, so washing became somewhat of a chore. Even though the cooking instructions are set up for two people, a third set of hands could easily be used to to hand off items, clean up spills and messes, and keep ahead of the mounting dirty dishes.
I am overly pleased with how everything turned out and highly highly recommend you give this a try! I'm not expert but I'd love to talk with anyone who's curious about OAMM!!