Sometimes eating the same meals can get frustrating. How many different ways can you package spaghetti? Hamburgers? Chicken?

I found a great new website last week, Once a Month Mom. Each month they give you an entire menu complete with shopping list and directions for your big cooking day. That’s fantastic, especially for people just starting out or wanting to find some new ideas.

I thought some of the recipes they offered looked pretty interesting. I sent the link to Sir Megabyte, and he gave his approval to some. I added the ingredients to my shopping list and figured we could see what happened.

Thursday gave me the great opportunity I was looking for, so I gathered my cooking minions and supplies and set to work.

My meals called for a LOT of onions. Joram took to chopping those up while I started some pasta boiling and browning the meat. When he got done, we had just enough onions and they filled up one of the pieces to my stack cooker!

That’s a lot of onions! However, we filled the larger piece to the stack cooker with a combination of ground turkey and ground beef:

Talk about a ton of food! My thought with the meat was to appease my husband while giving my gastro-intestinal track a break. He complains now about turkey meat, though he used to not mind it. My stomach pitches a fit if I eat too much cow and ground beef? That’s the biggest offender. I split the meat needed in half – so this is half beef and half turkey. I really hope that this can work out because really it is getting difficult as my husband continues to further limit what he will eat and combining that with things that cause me issues.

I cleaned up the skillet and started to saute some onions. After that I needed to throw in some chicken. Four chicken breasts cooked with onions later and I had this:

It already looks good and I hadn’t even finished the meal! Now, I know many of you know this: Chicken is on the Banned Food List. I don’t care. I used ground beef last round of cooking, though it causes me issues. This round I am using some and I’m making a set of Mexican meals – and I am really not big on Mexican. After then being dragged on Friday to a steakhouse, I am doing this guilt free. I want chicken dangit! My hope is that maybe this meal will end up so yummy, he’ll actually like it!

A girl can hope!

With finished pasta, a ton of meat, a plethora of onions, and a load of trays I was ready to move on to the next step.

First up was to finish the chicken meal. I added to the skillet some milk, cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese. Once I had a nice sauce with this chicken, it got dumped over pasta already put into trays. I topped with more cheese and some crushed French’s Fried Onions. (The noisy minions loved crushing those things! They make for a fun substitution for bread crumbs and we have a bunch we got for free on coupon days.)

Three meals down. The site said it would be four, but I thought it looked too lean. I have growing boys, after all. I have no doubt they will eat it all. Otherwise someone will have a yummy lunch!

At this point I started the spaghetti sauce. What didn’t go into this? I have my own recipe, but we thought this would be fun to try. I call this Garbage Sauce. That’s about the only thing not going in! Mushrooms, a gazillion cans of tomatoes, and of course sauce and paste. Oh you can’t forget a mountain of onions, an entire bottle of dried parsley, need I really go on? After everything went in, including four pounds of the meat mixture, I left it to bubble. Spaghetti sauce gets better if you leave it to do all sorts of things on the stove.

I started to put together the Mexican “Un”stuffed shells next. This was an interesting meal that the site said would make four trays. They did not tell me just how much of this I would end up with. I tried my largest mixing bowl at first, but the food mocked it. I ended up climbing into the top of my pantry and pulling down The Monster Bowl of All Time. have you seen it? It’s called “That’s a Bowl” and it is made by Tupperware. I could probably sit inside this thing. I have never used it in the something like six years since a person GAVE it to me. (She had two and couldn’t believe I didn’t have this thing.)

This FILLED the bowl. That is not “a lot” of food. That is a “freaking crazy holy cow how many armies can we feed on this” amount of food.

This had a bit of everything in it, too. I used up one of those Ortega Taco seasonings I got for nearly nothing at Bloom. I boiled two pounds of shells. Two pounds of meat and four cups of onions also joined the party. Then came the jar of salsa, two cups of cheddar, and my personal favourite: 51 ounces of tomato sauce. No wonder that bowl looked like it might take over my kitchen!

Five trays of Mexican “Un”stuffed shells got added to the three of chicken. I made a mental note to adjust my menu for the difference in amounts.

Next came the baked spaghetti. This said I could use whatever type of pasta I wanted. I chose big fat noodles. Why? Cause they are fun! What made this meal interesting was the sauce (store bought) gets mixed with 12 oz of cream cheese. Shhh, don’t tell Sir Megabyte. That left the sauce an interesting colour, and I’m hoping he won’t notice. It sure sounds wonderful! It also has onions and peppers and a dash of Parmesan cheese. And, if I remember to add it, some fried onions to the top on baking day. Their quote was right on this one – I ended up with two of those puppies.

I turned my attention to the sauce then. If you thought the unstuffed shells was a lot? My saucepan stood on the brink of overflowing! Yikes!

Talk about some good smells in the kitchen. I felt whisked off to some Italian slice of Heaven. Oh you know I tried out this sauce. Woah. Great stuff!

I ended up with four quarts (about the average sized bottle in the store) that I put into bags for the freezer. Some spaghetti goodness will come from that! Left over was a bit over another quart.

I actually called it quits. I wrapped up the sauce in my measuring cup and stuck it in the fridge. I needed to get some more trays as I’d run out, and some lasagna noodles to finish up.

Their recipe said four lasagnas. It got lean on my third, so I only made three. It’s fine though because we always end up with a little more lasagna than we can eat, and I can throw in some homemade bread and a salad to round out the meal.

So in the end I wound up with:
5 Mexican “Un”stuffed shells
3 Lasagna
3 Chicken Macaroni Bake
2 Spaghetti Bake
4 Quarts of Spaghetti Sauce
1 pound of meat

Not too bad for an honest day’s work, right? Seventeen meals makes me very happy. Eighteen if you count the bag of meat!

At the end of Thursday, this was my stack for the freezer:

Looks great, right?

I’m happy to report the lasagnas have been added, my freezers are getting full, my menu looks great for some time, and I even encouraged a friend to also do some freezer cooking! All fantastic news!

I’ll probably end up making some waffles and stuff soon for my freezer. We’re nearly out again and it’s so much fun to eat our cute waffles instead of eggos. (Though I’m a sucker for my eggos!) I should try to make some other breakfast type things, too.

–Lady O

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