On January 31, 2009 by Kelly

Over the years there are some definite things that I have learned about being successful (and efficient) when doing an OAM Cooking BIG DAY. The following are some helpful hints as you begin to plan for your BIG DAY.

  1. Partner – having a partner makes these days go so much quicker and be so much more enjoyable. Chances are you will be blessing someone else by asking them if they want to participate with you. I have found that both people don’t have to necessarily have a love for cooking. It is often the case that one person is prepping and cooking and the other is cleaning and assembling. Whatever the case may be, you will be preparing twice the amount of meals but it doesn’t take nearly the time it might if you were doing it on your own.
  2. Plan Ahead – hopefullly onceamonthmeals.com will be assisting you in these efforts by providing you with grocery lists and instructions in advance. However, you will need to make sure you are prepared as well.
    • Read Instructions – It is important to read through all of the instructions for each of the meals so that you are somewhat familiar with them before the BIG DAY. You may even want to read them a week in advance. Then read them again the night or a day before your BIG DAY so that you make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.
    • Schedule The Day – put the cooking date on the calendar several weeks prior to your cooking day. This will assist you in having time to be prepared and organized.
  3. Childcare – if you have little ones it is obviously more efficient and time effective if you find someone else to watch them. And even having them watched somewhere other than the home where you are doing the cooking. The reason for this is that we all know that kids don’t always understand when mommy (or even daddy) are too busy to meet their needs. Suggestions for this include giving them time with your wonderful husband! Paying a babysitter to watch them for the day. Or even finding another OAM partner pair in your area and trading babysitting services for your OAM cooking days.
  4. Kick Hubby OUT! – maybe you don’t have a problem with this, but my husband is a grazer! He loves to walk in the kitchen, see what I am doing, and inevitably, take a taste test! This doesn’t usually go over well with me as one taste usually leads to another! Not to mention that the smells that will be coming from your kitchen are enough to drive the whole neighborhood over to see what is happening. So we have a rule that he isn’t allowed at the house during OAM Cooking BIG DAYS! (Even though he doesn’t get to sample food it also means that he doesn’t have to do the dishes which I think is secretly okay by him. (Now it could be that your husband (or wife) is actually your OAM Cooking BIG DAY partner. And if that is the case for you KUDOS! I don’t think my husband and I could make that work, but if you can, GREAT!)
  5. Clean Out the Refrigerator and Freezer BEFORE – you will need all the space you can get when doing an OAM Cooking Day.
    • Refrigerator – The few days before your cooking day your refrigerator is likely to be pretty full with the ingredients that you will be needing. Make sure that a few days before that you go through and throw out all those moldy jars of spaghetti sauce or last week’s pot roast.
    • Freezer – Same with your freezer, if you have items that have been there for some time and are freezer burnt go ahead and pitch them. I also always like to keep an eye on my freezer in the weeks leading up to an OAM Cooking BIG DAY and use any meals that are still lingering.
  6. Set up – Make sure that you set up your kitchen, cooking surfaces, stove, etc the night before. Here are some important things to remember to do:
    • Oven – does it need to be cleaned before we get started?
    • Counters – clear them of any clutter or items that will not be used during OAM Cooking BIG DAY.
    • Ingredients – I set up a card table, just outside my kitchen/preparation area (I have a small kitchen and my pantry is downstairs) with ALL of the dry, unrefrigerated ingredients I will be using for the day. I use my grocery list to assemble this table with all of the goods I will be needing. This reduces the amount of time that I spend looking for items on the BIG DAY.
    • Equipment – I set all of the appliances, bowls, utensils, pans, plastic ware, baggies etc that I think that I might need under the ingredients table or on a seperate card table. This also saves time of having to locate items on the BIG DAY. I also might call my OAM partner to ask them to bring a few items that I think we need.
    • Clean – clean and ready all kitchen surfaces the night before.
    • Print – make sure that you have all of the recipes and instructions printed. Print two sets if you think it will help when working with your partner.
  7. Food Preparation – there are usually some items that get cooked in the crockpot overnight. Make sure that you prepare and start these items. If you would like you may also chop all of the ingredients that you will need for assembly the night before. I have some months where I do this and others where I do not. It depends on the time constraints I have the next day or the amount of equipment being required. If there isn’t too much or my counter won’t be cluttered with other items I will simply wait until the BIG DAY to do all of the chopping.
  8. Order Carryout – OAM cooking days often take 6-8 hours to execute! By the time you have reached the end of the day you have little energy (desire) to put a meal on the table. So plan on ordering pizza or going out to a favorite restaurant at the end to celebrate your accomplishments! As for lunch, I would suggest having someone drop you by fast food or ordering something like a sub sandwich and keeping them in the refrigerator so you can grab a quick bite.
  9. Attitude – Whether you like cooking or not, keep a good attitude! Remember, you are putting in some hard work today so that you don’t have to slave away in the kitchen every evening. It is only one day and you will have the rest of the month to reap the benefits. Not to mention that your OAM partner will like you a whole lot more if you keep a positive attitude! Above all else HAVE FUN!
  10. Sleep – make sure you get a good nights rest the night before your OAM Cooking BIG DAY. You will be on your feet and working all day long, you need to be well rested.
  11. Comfortable Clothes – it is important to wear clothes that are comfortable, won’t make you too warm, and won’t catch on cabinets and appliances. I usually wear my favorite pair of workout paints, a t-shirt, and my most comfortable pair of shoes. I top the outfit off with my favorite kitchen apron!

Following these steps is not a MUST but will definitely make your day easier!