Have you ever prepared freezer meals for your family? It’s the process of preparing and cooking up a bunch of meals all at once and then freezing for a later time. It is really nice to have meals already prepared and ready to go when you are in a rush or the day has been crazy!
I’ve done freezer meal prep in the past for a few recipes. Usually, I just pick a few meals for either the crock pot or the oven and buy all the supplies to make them. Then I would spend the day making them all and sticking them in your freezer. The mess and work all happens at one time and then done.
It does take some planning and it is work! But I think it can be really worth it. And you can add fun to it by inviting a friend to do it with you! I especially start thinking about this kind of prep right before a new baby arrives… since dinner time can be very unpredictable.
Recently I discovered a website called Once a Month Meals. They take this freezer prep/cooking idea to the max. I was instantly impressed by the organization and customization they provide. I have signed up for meal planning help in the past and the only bummer I found in the ones I’ve tried is that you are kind of stuck with recipes your family doesn’t like.. no fun there! With Once A Month Meals you can pick from their 6000+ recipes and substitute them into your plan And nothing else I have seen has been anywhere close to this!
Here’s a few facts about How It Works from the website:
- There are 7 different dietary preferences to choose from and then you can customize from there.
- You select how many servings you need for your family. and the recipes are converted for you.
- Gather and purchase your ingredients from the detailed shopping list provided
- The Prep list they provide tells you exactly what needs to be chopped, sliced, diced, whatever.
- There is a step-by-step cooking instructions for your menu that tells you exactly what needs to be done before freezing.
- The recipe cards explain what all needs to be done for each recipe and how many containers to divide it into, then you are ready for the freezer.
- And now your meals are all ready for your family to enjoy when you need it!
Two more resources Once A Month Meals provides that I absolutely love are the Freezer labels and Thaw sheet!
Freezer labels for each container before being placed in the freezer. (some folks say they print these on actual label sheets so they are adhesive but for my first time I just taped mine on the bags or lids.) These are details of how exactly to thaw (if necessary) and reheat for your meal the day you want to use it. * I love how this means that if I’m running late or in a couple of months when I have my hands full with two toddlers and a newborn, my husband or anyone else here helping out can pull something and know exactly what needs to be done for dinner!! Yay!
The Thaw sheet makes every organization-loving part of me excited!!! On the Thaw sheet I have every recipe I made for this months menu and the exact time it will take to have it ready for the table. So, if we are rushed I know I can pick the Cheeseburger Meatball sandwiches because they only take 28 minutes from freezer thanks to my Instant Pot! (more on that in a minute). But if we are just hanging out at home and have more time I can choose the Tender Braised Short Ribs that take about an 1 hour!
If you haven’t noticed yet, I love how detailed and exact everything is with this plan!
If you want to give this a try to see if this can work for you and your family here is a link to the website!
It is $16 a month (which can be cancelled anytime) or $170 for a year (making it $14.17 a month). If you are like me, my first reaction is.. that is a bit expensive!?! But, once you see ALL the resources and how organized and the customization they provide, I think you’ll find, that the price is totally worth it.
Or if you want to just check them out there is a free mini menu you can download. You won’t be able to customize it but you can get a good sampling.
Still want to know more? You can read on to hear how my first experience went this week!
I was intrigued when I saw a tutorial video from Once A Month Meals for their brand new Instant Pot Menu plan!!! Do you have an Instant Pot? Have you heard the buzz about them? You can read my post about the Instant Pot my husband surprised me with here.
The night I saw the tutorial, I talked to Ryan about maybe giving this whole cooking only once a month thing a chance and really getting to use this Instant Pot! He agreed to give it a try for a month and I got busy planning!!
Like I said for this one I really wanted to use my Instant Pot so I chose the Winter Instant Pot Freezer Menu Vol 1. And stuck with all Instant Pot meals. But the list of recipes (over 5000) include oven,grill, stove top, crock pot, instant pot. They even have an “easy assembly” category)
I substituted a meal or two that I knew my family wouldn’t like ( I think one was spicy and one was meat-less) selected the number of servings I needed and that was it!
Right away I had so many resources available. I printed all the lists because I like paper haha and read up on some of the blog posts about cooking once for a whole month. Then because Ryan was off for the next couple of days I decided to just go ahead and jump in! I prepared for doing the shopping.
One of the great benefits of doing bulk cooking is that you get to do bulk shopping too! So I bought all the meat and veggies at Sam’s club (Costco is of course another great bulk option)! And the shopping list from Once a Month Meals is so detailed that you know exactly how many pounds of meat and veggies you need for the whole month!!
When I got home I placed my Walmart Grocery Pick Up order. If you haven’t tried this service yet check out my review here and you’ll find a coupon code for $10.00 off your first order! The next morning Ryan went and picked up everything from Walmart (It is seriously my favorite!) and I got to chopping, slicing and all other kinds of prep!
I will say that Once a Month Meals suggests breaking up the Prep and the cooking/freezing into two days and I think that’s the wiser way to do it. I plan to try it that way next month. But, I made it this time!
The cooking day instructions are so simple to follow! Just start at step one and keep going.. soon you’ll have all of your meals prepped, packaged and frozen!
Just think about the mess and effort each meal takes for your family… Even the amount of dishes, pots, pans, cutting boards, knives etc. Think about that NOT happening every meal time. But just once a month!
I am sticking with dinners for now, though Once a Month Meals has soooo many great breakfast, lunch and even snack recipes that I can’t wait to try!
So far we have had a few of the meals and they have all been delish! And I can’t stress enough how simple it has been to be able to just pull something out of the freezer each night and set it on in my Instant Pot!
So how does this stack up financially?
I will say that this time around I wasn’t really focused on being frugal, I mostly wanted to get my feet wet with this process and membership and really excited to use my Instant Pot 🙂 That being said, I don’t think I did bad at all. Between the 2 stores I was under $300.00 (remember that’s for 30 dinners!!) And I have a few ingredients left over for next time. like cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Also, I can see lots of ways I could shave this down even more if I needed to. I could have substituted some of the meals to include protein and produce that I know is on sale. Or pick recipes with less ingredients, etc. I really feel like the sky is the limit with this and can’t wait to do it again!
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