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August 30, 2013

Better by the dozen: Bulk cooking saves time, money

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Angela Martino-Lewis does not claim to be a good cook. But she acknowledges that she has mastered a technique that other busy teachers and parents might find valuable as they turn the calendar to begin another school year: Once-a-Month Cooking, also known as OAMC. (Go ahead, Google it -- it will be the first entry you find).

"Except I do it more often," Martino-Lewis said last week as she covered stacks of future meals and snacks with foil before putting them into her freezers.

Martino-Lewis, a reading teacher at Pittsburg Community Middle School in Kansas who cleans houses part time and has four children active in sports, began cooking in bulk two years ago as an organized way of feeding her family home-cooked meals that don't cost a lot.

Armed with coupons, savvy shopping skills -- such as when and where to buy certain groceries at their lowest prices -- and ample freezer space, Martino-Lewis spends a few weekends a month cooking and freezing her family's favorites.

"Then at any time I can pull it out of the freezer, or the kids can, and we have a meal or a snack," she said. "It saves time, saves money and keeps us from driving through a drive-through."

One recent Saturday she cranked out 11 pounds of meatballs, then prepped and froze several loaves of garlic bread.

"I always have packages of spaghetti on hand, which keeps for a long time in the pantry, so this is a very easy and inexpensive meal to make for six people," she said.

While her meatballs cooked, she used her bread machine to create nine pans of cinnamon rolls.

"When you're cooking bulk, you always want to have something else going on the side," she said. "These are handy to have on hand for breakfast, for school events, for all kinds of occasions."

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