Aside from the four months during the summer of 2010, I have not worked a 40-hour work week since becoming a mother.
As you know, we are getting out of debt. A surefire way to help tackle that debt involves this mama adding a day to her work week. (Gulp!)
It also means more time away from home. And that, my friends, is going to be the real challenge.
I have watched in awe as my fellow co-workers – all full-time employees – manage their work and home lives with grace and efficiency. I have four stay-at-home days to accomplish what these men and women do in two – on Saturday and Sunday.
A sampling of chores: Laundry, grocery shopping, errand running, bill paying, organizing, house cleaning, all accomplished in between shuttling their children from one activity to the next, quality family time and maybe throw in a social engagement or two.
And now I must learn this juggling act for myself.
Things are going to change around here if that transition is going to go smoothly.
One thing I decided to try is Once A Month Cooking (OAMC), or producing a month’s worth of cooking in one or two days. You spend an entire day cooking and freezing meals, so you don’t have to cook for the rest of the month. You’re planning your meals in advance, so you’re sticking to a budget. Sounds like a great idea to save time and money, right?
After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. So, we’d grab a bite to eat. Not anymore. No more take-out. We are saving money. And that starts in the kitchen.
My neighbor recommended Dinner is Ready, a book filled with hundreds of freezer-worthy recipes. I tried this last year sometime, and the meals turned out great. But I never carved the time out of my schedule to do it again.
With the impending work week shift, I was finally motivated to give this another whirl.
I gathered ingredients. (Note: I spent $174.15 for this grocery trip.) The Coffee-mate was to help me survive this ordeal without alcohol.
The next day, I took the older boys to school and dropped my 3-year-old off at day care.
I was in the zone.
I cooked and chopped and cried (onions do it to me every time), then hit repeat.
My kitchen was a disaster.
When I finished, I had packaged nearly 30 meals in seven hours. I made nine recipes (including lasagna, beef stew, meatballs and chicken enchiladas), doubled them and then divided each recipe into thirds — a total of 27 meals. (Find recipes from beef fajitas to chicken parmigana.)
If I add the $30 daycare expense to the grocery bill, I spent $7.56 per meal. Not too shabby, especially when you’re looking for ways to spend less money.
I was exhausted and sore the next day, but I no longer dread the “what’s for dinner?” question. I’ll now have more time to focus on my family. And my pocketbook is happy.
Judy Daniell is married with three sons. She works part time. Read her Wednesdays on momaha.com