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 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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.)