I was recently given the opportunity to review a new book/software cooking system called 30 Meals In One Day.
It didn’t come a moment too soon!
When I first got the Dinner Is Ready! book in this set, I was at the end of my rope, culinarily speaking. I was an exhausted mama of finicky pre-k twin girls and their equally finicky father. And no, that was not a mis-write – you read that last sentence correctly (Husbands count as another child sometimes!)
We were also hurting a little in the family budget – we’d had a number of crises this summer, that have spilled into fall, and we needed to squeeze every penny we could – and our biggest expenditure, after rent, was the grocery bill.
My style of shopping had been to shop on an empty stomach, which left me a sitting duck for impulse buys, and getting items that owed more to fanciful wishes of what the kids would eat, than any resemblance to a proper weekly menu, and end up frustrated, because who could predict whether the twins would actually eat anything other than mac & cheese?
The week after, I usually ended up buying alot of pre-processed and pre-made foods – the heat’n'eat kind that had every mama instinct I had, cringing in horror, but I had to get something into those picky little mouths, and that picky big one, too.
All of that cost quite a bit, especially in the form of wasted and unused foods that deteriorated before I got around to finding some way to using them.
And when the money crunch came, I found myself buying less organic and more conventional. It wasn’t a happy situation.
Entre vous… 30 Meals In One Day.
This program solved a number of my problems.
For one thing, having someone else (i.e. my computer) make the shopping list for me was a godsend! I didn’t have to try and remember everything on my own (poor tired mommy brain), which cut down on extra shopping trips to pick up things I’d forgotten, and it kept me from diverging onto the path of temptation buying. That right there saved us some money. And the only things on the list were things that were absolutely essential to the planned-out meals – nothing extraneous.
And it cut down on stress, because another cringe-worthy horror for me had been forgetting to get dinner started on time and finally getting it cooked and on the table – about 5 minutes before the girls’ bedtime.
With the food already prepared and in many cases just needing to be warmed up, as long as I remembered to take the meal out of the freezer in the morning I just had to pop it in the oven at 4pm, and dinner would be served on time.
The portions in the system’s recipes were also large enough that in addition to dinner, there was enough left over for my husband’s lunchbox the next day (also saving us on restaurant bills and extra cooking time (He’s Japanese, and apparently they just don’t do sandwiches for lunch.).
One of the potential drawbacks, however, was that a number of the ingredients were not ordinarily things I would use – canned soups, for one – but I figured that as bad as our eating habits had gotten, it was no time to stand on organic-purist ceremony, and it was better to get things back under control and within the budget – whereupon I could start substituting more organic ingredients.
One of my favorite things about the software, in addition to the automatic shopping lists, was that I could input my own recipes pretty easily and also have those ingredients included on the shopping list.
And what was really great was that almost none of the ingredients I needed were exotic use-once-and-it’ll-collect-dust-forever things. This also cut down on waste. About the most exotic was the ground cumin, and I’ll definitely be making the Chicken Enchilada Lasagna again!
While some of the recipes had a few too many steps for this exhaustion-addled mommy, there were plenty that were extremely simple, and pretty much nearly all the recipes in the book looked to be quite tasty!
For the equipment the book recommended, I kept costs low and stopped by the dollar shop to get the extra sets of measuring spoons and cups (one set for dry & one set for wet ingredients), and the foil baking trays, ziplock bags and even some of the ingredients!
Overall, I’d say the only difficult thing about this type of cooking system was finding the time to do all the cooking, and trying to get the storage space for it in the freezer. And those were both solved by breaking things down into 5-meal increments.
I’d get the recipes and ingredients a day ahead of time, and for a couple of hours on the weekend, or weekend evening, I’d do all of the required cooking and assembling. These incremental cooking projects would take just about 2 hours – and that’s including constant interruptions from my kids and my husband…and the phone… It proved to be very manageable, and at the end, when I knew that dinner for the week ahead was all taken care of, it was IMMENSELY relieving!
My husband was pleased, both with the decrease of grocery expenditures and cutting down on waste, and even if the girls wouldn’t eat anything beyond a mere taste – I could quickly whip up some mac&cheese (with veggies pureed in – shh!) – it didn’t mean that he was stuck with the same. There he would sit, with a happy grin on his face, as he shoveled in the food that was more or less made from scratch, while making cheery “Mmm!” sounds.
It sure was a heckuva lot easier than cooking a whole other extra meal for him at the drop of a hat if the kids refused to eat anything other than good ‘ol mac&cheese that evening.
My husband was happy with every single meal I made from this system – although he did mention that some of them were on the mild side, but that was easily remedied with a little extra hotsauce. And he knows full well that I have to go easy on the spices and seasonings for little tongues that have not yet known the joys of downing multiple cups of boiling hot coffee.
If you’d like to try this easy-to-use, uncomplicated cooking system, you can buy 30 Meals in a Day HERE and they even have money-saving combo deals on the book and software sets!
AND you can enter our giveaway for a free copy of the On The Side! recipe book for side dishes which has over 350 recipes!!
**Disclaimer – I received a review copy of 30 Meals In One Day’s Dinner Is Ready – both the book and the software. My review of this book and accompanying software is my honest opinion and was not swayed in any way by the review copies I received. No other consideration was received and no money changed hands in exhcange for this review. 30 Meals In One Day also kindly offered a giveaway prize of their On The Side! recipe book.