Save Time and Money! Prepare Nutritious Meals in Advance

One day I stumbled upon a blog called the Once A Month Mom. As a working mom of three busy active kids I was intrigued. The whole idea of the Once A Month Mom is to take one day to prepare all of your family’s meals for the month. One day? One month’s worth of meals? Like I said, I was intrigued.

I’m already a huge fan of stock piling food and saving time and money. Could this be another addition to my frugal routine? Could this create a stock pile of food in my freezer so that I always had a meal on hand for my family or an impromptu guest or a neighbor in need? Would this system allow me to come home and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee with my husband while the meal that has already been prepared is simply placed in the oven?

My mind swam around with this idea while I read all of the instructions, recipes, and shopping lists for the upcoming menu that had been published. Determined to give it a shot, I planned my big cooking day two weeks in advance.

Once A Month Mom cooking even works with a small freezer like mine!
Once A Month Mom cooking even works with a small freezer like mine!

Once the actual cooking day arrived, I was very excited. My daughter and I had done all of the prep work that was necessary the night before. I only had one last minute run to the grocery store that morning before I was ready to start my entire day of cooking. This is what I found.

  1.  I completely underestimated how much work this would be. Once a Month Mom cooking is NOT the lazy mom’s system. It’s a lot of work and since I did it alone there were times when it was overwhelming. I decided then that the next time I would make it a big cooking weekend and break it down between two days.
  2. Even though it’s a lot of work, the feeling of accomplishment was incredible. Packaging the last of the meals and stuffing my freezer full felt wonderful. The clean up isn’t so fun… but once it’s done, it’s done!

My experience is one thing, but if you’re anything like me, you want to know the answers to questions like: Did it save time? Did the system save money? Is the food any good? Would this work for me? Is the Once A Month Mom system worthwhile?

Suggestions

Here are some suggestions from my own experiences. The blog has many more tips as well:

  • Clean out your freezer and your refrigerator before you start.
  • Do kitchen clean up throughout the day
  • Do as much of the recommended prep work the night before as possible.
  • Clear your schedule. You will not want to have to leave to pick someone up or run to an appointment.
  • If you have small kids, find a sitter or trade some babysitting for the day. My kids are older, but I can’t imagine doing this with little ones running around!
  • If you can have someone on hand who could do quick grocery runs for you that would be great. The last time, I read the shopping list wrong and I kept running out of shredded cheese. I sent my teenage son to the store twice to get more. (Which brings me to my next suggestion…)
  • Read the shopping list carefully! If they say 21 eggs, they mean 21 eggs.
  • Learn how to adapt to your family. If you know they don’t like onions, you can adapt the recipes and use less. If you have a similar recipe, you can substitute it (just be sure to double it). If there’s one that I KNOW won’t go over well, I just skip it entirely.
  • Use programs like Coupon Sense or Savings Angel to find great deals on the items you need. Use the stockpile system so you will have many of the staples needed already on hand.
  • If you have a question, ask them. I posted a question before I tried it and had a response later that morning. They are very, very helpful.
  • Make sure you have all the supplies you need beforehand. Often the instructions call for two crock pots, several foil baking dishes, and different sizes of freezer bags. Other items such as sharp knives and food processors would be useful as well.

Yes! This Saves Time

  • Every meal you prepare makes enough for two meals. Doubling a recipe doesn’t take any more time than a single recipe. By that fact alone, you’ve cut your cooking time in half.
  • Once the food is prepared, packaged and frozen, it takes little to no time or effort to put it on your table for your family. Some meals are complete; others are only entrees that you can add fresh vegetables and rice or pasta to finish.
  • On busy weeknights when everyone needs to be someplace, it was a huge time saver to
  • Using this system has freed up my evening time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with my husband, talk to my children, run errands, do housework, the freedom is incredible.  

Yes! This Saves Money!

  • Because I already use grocery store sales and coupons to my advantage, the stockpile I have in my pantry came in handy. However, there were still additional items that I needed to purchase. Because they provide a shopping list with everything you need, I was able to pick up items on sale in advance. Now they even provide a checklist of commonly used staples that I can purchase anytime.
  • I did notice that I my grocery bill was significantly higher the week or two before the first big cooking day. I wasn’t sure how the money saving aspect was going to pan out. However, I noticed an incredible decrease in my grocery spending the rest of the month. All I had to purchase were items such as milk, lunch meat, bread, and cereal. Everything for our family meals was already purchased.
  • I also noticed that when the second big cooking day rolled around, I already had many of the needed items, so the cost was quite a bit less.
  • The greatest savings came about, however, because I did not spend anything on convenience meals such as frozen dinners or pizza. Nor did our family eat out, order pizza, or run through the fast food drive-through nearly as much as we normally did.

Yes! The Food is Incredible!

  • This was honestly my biggest concern. There’s no saving time or money if the food prepared isn’t worth eating. Thankfully, my concerns were quickly put to rest. Not only are these meals are delicious! While not every dinner was a hit with every family member, there is enough variety to please my pickiest eater.
  • I am proud to put these meals on my table. I’m proud that I prepared them. I’m proud that they are healthy and I know what’s in them. I’m grateful that I can share meals with family and friends as well.

Yes! This Can Work for You!

  • One of my favorite things about this blog is the fact that it is so adaptable. It doesn’t matter what your family situation is, you can adapt their recipes and shopping lists to work for you. They even have diet menus and baby food menus. You can use these menus for a family of five like mine, or a family of one.
  • If you have a freezer and are tired of wondering what to fix for dinner each and every day, then this system can work for you.

Is This Worthwhile?

It is for me. I love the concept and I appreciate the time and effort they put into their menus and their big cooking day instructions. I have become a Once A Month Mom!

If you are a Once A Month Mom or if you’re interested in trying it out, check out the blog! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below. If you enjoyed this Hub, please be sure to vote it up! Thanks!

(Lisa Beaman has no affiliation with the Once A Month Mom Blog. She is simply a fan and wanted to share her experiences.)

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Comments 12 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I think this sounds like a good idea especially for working moms. Cooking is time consuming so I really like your suggestions. Voted/ rated awesome!


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks Pamela!!! I appreciate the comment and the votes! I'm already starting to plan my next big cooking day.


Tricia (Once A Month Mom) 5 years ago

What an awesome testimony to OAMM cooking! Thank you so much for telling others about it, I really appreciate it. A first hand, honest testimony is what most people need to read too, you have done just that.

Welcome to OAMM and we look forward to having you around for some time to come. (I HIGHLY recommend cooking with a partner, it makes the day go SO MUCH FASTER!)


Subh 5 years ago

Nice idea


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks Tracia! I really am enjoying OAMM! I just started planning for my May cooking day since the new menu came out. It looks really good! I've really been enjoying the variety that your menus bring. I would always get so tired of fixing the same things week after week.

I agree that cooking with a partner would be better. My plan was to get my teenage daughter involved and have a day of bonding... but she keeps flaking out on me!


Jolene 5 years ago

I have been following the OAMM blog since November. I love it! I always have a hot meal on the table when my husband gets home from work. Once a month we get together with another couple the husbands watch the kids while the wives cook then the wives watch the kids while the husbands start the dishes. (I usually finish them the next day)What's easier than using a slow cooker to fix dinner? Thawing the ingredients for the slow cooker over night then just dumping them in the crockpot the next day. No prep in the morning or night before (unless you count moving the frozen bag to the frig). If you use a liner in the crock pot clean up is a breeze too.

I would suggest starting out slow. Try cooking for one week at a time then increase it when you get the hang of batch cooking. Working Moms need to give this a try. Then you can come home and have a glass of wine instead of standing over a stove. OAMM is the best blog out there for this style of cooking. Give it a try it will change your life! It changed mine.


Frayda 5 years ago

Thanks for this review and synopsis. I think that the most important tip you gave was to make sure you have all the supplies you need beforehand. A lot of times when cooking I don't read the recipe instructions before I cook and it turns out that I can't make the dish because I don't have a blender or some other piece of equipment. I would also suggest that reading through everything before starting will give you a better idea of all the steps and processes needed to complete your meals.


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks Frayda! That's a great suggestion on reading through everything. The first time I did this, I did just that and jotted down areas where I had questions. Most of the questions I found the answers to easily on their sight. Being prepared makes the big cooking day a lot easier!


Dana 5 years ago

I did this a month ago and now make 2 of her menus per month as we have 7+ people in the family and we actually use some of the "breakfast" or dinner items for lunches. I incorporate all my daughters (currently 3) and each one gets a task and the older ones get to put together an entire meal. They actually have found great satisfaction when we serve "their" dinner. I break up the cooking a lot! We will do 4-6 meals one day.... then I will do another batch the next day. Funny thing is that we haven't seen it as a lot of work once we got going! With 4 kids (and sometimes more because we are a foster home) who are always going - this is my way of making sure everyone eats right!


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Dana - What an awesome mom you are! I love how you include the kids and make it fun. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm sure every foster child in your home is blessed by your care. Thanks for doing what you do!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

When my kids were at home, I used to use the Month-of-Menus feature in a magazine whose name I can't remember now. Their menus focused on cooking a week's worth of meals at one time, incorporating leftovers from one meal into the next, that sort of thing. Had the internet and this blog existed back then, I certainly would've been a faithful follower! At one point, several neighbors and I formed our own dinner club, where one of us would be responsible for a meal one night, another the next and so on. Had OAMM been around, I'm sure we would've used it to our advantage...i.e. each household contributing a portion of the ingredients and rotating the Designated Kitchen for each month's Cook/Prep Day.


lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

You were ahead of your time, JamaGenee! Even without blogs like OAMM, you and your friends had some terrific ideas! I'm not so sure I would have been so savvy on my own. Thanks for the comment!

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