How To Be A “Once A Month Mom”

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There is no doubt that the key to sticking to a real food diet is planning ahead. I like to call it “making your own convenience food.” Just imagine all those busy weeknights out at a late dance class or nighttime soccer practice and not having to worry about dinner (or resorting to the drive through) because you planned ahead. That’s what it’s all about!

So today I am here to introduce you to the Once a Month Mom (OAMM) website, which has taken planning ahead to a whole new level. OAMM offers meal plans where you can literally spend one day a month cooking and have enough food for weeks to come. We didn’t want to just take their word for it though so Kiran from our 100 Days of Real Food Team – who has 4 kids ages 9 and under by the way! – agreed to put the OAMM plan to the test for this sponsored post today. So I am super excited to share with you everything you could ever want to know from our very own first-hand “freezer cooking” experience!


By Kiran Dodeja Smith, 100 Days of Real Food Team

Once a Month Mom menus - 100 Days of Real FoodWhen Once a Month Mom was introduced to me, I was intrigued, to say the least. Cook just once a month and have your meals freezer ready for 4 weeks? It sounded too good to be true.

After signing up for a month, I watched this video in hopes that it would give me some insight as to how I would proceed. I then chose between 7 different plans; my choice was Whole Foods (not to be confused with the store – no correlation, actually, it’s just a plan with whole foods incorporated within).

How It Works

The directions seemed fairly straightforward: You get Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner recipes to last throughout the month. When it’s all said and done, I’d have 6-10 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 14 dinners. Sure; still sounded good to me. But what about the cooking part?

I started by looking at the menu for the month I was signed up for. In all honesty, while I’m open to new recipes, my kids are somewhat creatures of nature. Knowing them, I know that I can get away with different breakfast foods on the weekend but serving up something completely different during the week may not fly for them. So I opted to slightly tailor the menu by making the suggested Quinoa Carrot Breakfast Bars (a breakfast dish) to send to school in their lunches. I also made the Sun-dried Tomato and Sausage Egg Cupcakes (a breakfast) for use as lunch as opposed to the Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole Cups (a lunch). And last I decided not to make one of the suggested breakfasts (Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats). For me, tailoring it to what I think will work for us and also trying to add some newness is key. To sum it up, with my changes I had 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch (I opted out of 3 others), 6 dinners and 5 “Add Ons” on the forefront to cook all in one day. Yikes.

Next I dove into some of the incredibly organized resources on OAMM by going over to the Recipe Cards. Members can adjust servings per meal (needed in my case) and also get directions for freezing (also needed for me).

The directions are outstanding. You are told exactly what to do the day before (chopping), if meat is needed to be cooked/thawed, etc. But never having done this before I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was feeling so overwhelmed with what was up and coming.

Cooking Day

Once a Month Mom freezer - 100 Days of Real FoodThe big day arrived and I was ready to roll. I had already planned to split my cooking into two days. I got geared up and was cooking and cleaning from 1 – 5:30 p.m. I was lucky enough to have a friend come to visit during this time; I put her to work and we knocked out half of the meals. My husband came home towards the end and helped with cleanup. Side note: we went out to dinner that night.

Day Two was much easier. Some meals are, as in real life, harder than others to cook. I specifically chose the harder ones for Day One to get those out of the way. I have to say that I was more than thrilled when I put the finishing touches on my final meal but even more so when I looked at my stocked freezer. OK, I really wanted to do cartwheels, that’s how happy I was. But of course I was too tired to do them!

The Results

Once a Month Mom Garlic Lime Chicken - 100 Days of Real Food

As luck would have it, I got the flu the week after I cooked my meals. I couldn’t have been any more thankful to have prepared meals in the freezer that I could simply pull out and defrost. I was recovering from being sick and simply pulled out (the pictured) Garlic Lime Chicken the morning we were going to eat it and let it defrost. I stuck it in my slow cooker to cook and already had the brown rice, which I had also prepared and cooked on my big cooking day. I pulled out some broccoli and roasted it (yes, my kids eat it) and dinner was served. Anyone who has had the flu this year knows that it’s not a quick thing to recover from, so I was again thankful to have more meals to rely on that same week. We enjoyed a yummy Shepard’s Pie, which my husband was really nuts about.

While I was worried about the breakfasts being a hit with my kids, the few that I had made (Sun-dried Tomato and Sausage Egg Cupcakes and Carrot Quinoa Bars) ended up being some different and much appreciated changes in our routine. I stand corrected! They were also super simple to just pull out of the freezer and to have ready.

Since I didn’t have the meals every single night in a row, they lasted me for the full 4 weeks, which was FANTASTIC. I ended up cooking about once during the week otherwise and had leftovers which I love to have on hand.

In Summary and Tips

If you’ve ever been frustrated with not knowing what to cook, feeling like you need to cook each night or not having time to prepare what you really want to make, I would suggest watching this video to get a better feel for what this can mean for you. Yes, the cooking day is a lot, but if you are prepared for it, it’s a small price to pay for having the meals on hand for the rest of the month. With that being said, here are a few of my tips for prep day:

1) Mentally prepare to either spend a full day cooking or to split it into two.

2) If at all possible, do it while your kids are in school/with friends/family.

3) Having a friend (or spouse if they will help!) assist with the dishes can be a great help.

4) Do the prep work as suggested; it really will help!

5) Don’t plan to cook something for dinner on your big cooking day. You’ll be really mad at yourself if you do.

6) Be open to something new. After having success with meals I wasn’t initially so sure about, I was kicking myself for opting out of a few meals that I did. I guess there’s always next month!

We hope learning about our experience helps you decide if “Once a Month Mom” cooking is right for you. All new members who sign up for their monthly menus also get access to menus (past and current) and resources which include recipe cards, grocery lists, step-by-step cooking day instructions, labels and two OAMM ebooks (Survive Before 5 Toddler Meals and a Holiday Meals). Just think how happy you will be once you are stocked up with all those wholesome DIY- freezer meals!

Do any of you already do “freezer cooking” on a regular basis? If so, please share the details in the comments below.

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121 comments to How To Be A “Once A Month Mom”

  • Great article!
    I myself tend to always prefer “batch” working, but I find it really difficult when it comes to cooking. I’ll surely try this, with a printout of this article at hand! ;)

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the tips, I have been following OAMM for a while now and I make the recipes quite often. I have not done a huge batch of freezer meals yet though. i just cook everynight. I am honestly overwhelmed by the thought of cooking all day. I feel like now maybe I can accomplish it. Thanks again.

    • Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Trust me, Michelle – I was also really overwhelmed with the thought of doing it. And to be completely honest, it is a LOT of work the day of. But when you weigh out the fact that you have meals throughout the month that you really don’t have to “cook,” it really is worth it – at least it was for me. I’d give it a shot! Splitting it into two days was really the key for me. Good luck! :)

  • Dawn Behrens

    Personally, I buy meat and freeze it. I like to just pull it out and come up with a creative recipe or use ones I have always cooked. I don’t have enough refrigerator or freezer space for all of those ready made meals.

  • CarlaJ

    I have done once a month cooking in the past when our children lived at home. Absolutely worth the time and effort. Knowing I had meals ready made it much easier to run errands, help friends, work, and just have a enjoyable time with my family without having to worry about what to cook for supper.
    Batch cooking, when I had the storage room, has always been something I have done; and still do. Double and triple the chili and spaghetti sauce. Make lasagna, stuffed shells,along with the spaghetti sauce in meal size portions to freeze. Double batch of muffins, baked goods, frozen in packages to use for breakfast on the go. Double batch of cookie dough to freeze, frozen in portions, and bake as needed – I hate stale cookies.
    We are only a household of 2 now and I still do freeze ahead meals.

  • Wow, this looks great. To think that I only have one kid and am already strapped for time- definiely guilty of just driving to mcdonalds on the way home.

    I will give this ago! thanks for sharing!

  • So excited to give this a try!

  • Tracy

    I am single w/ no children. I usually spend all day on Sunday every other week planning for two weeks. This has been a life and time saver. On the weeks I don’t do it, I usually regret it. Thanks for this information. It gave me some great ideas to be even more productive.

    • Kim

      That is fantastic to hear, because I also don’t have any children but I am a super commuter for work and I go to school part time. Which leaves me strapped for time on most days. So it’s nice to hear people who don’t have children benefiting from things like this.

    • Tracy
      I actually started out doing this for my husband and I WAY BEFORE we had kids too. It was so nice to have a nice dinner soon after I walked in the door from work.

    • Danielle

      I’m single without children and I love batch cooking. Tricia, I cannot believe I didn’t find your site a few months back when I was desperately searching freezer cooking. I couldn’t seem to find ideas that weren’t just 10 different casseroles. The biggest hurdle was that because I am single, I wasn’t always sure how to freeze smaller servings because I didn’t really want to eat a casserole dish for a week! I made my own menu and gave it a go, but it was kind of a nightmare that turned into more like a week of cooking haha. Some of the dishes didn’t freeze well and ended up wasted. SO, I’m very glad to know there are step by step instructions out there AND I get a whole foods option! Amazing! I think I saw that members can adjust family size, so I can’t wait to try that to see how it works out for just me but I’m actually thinking of asking another single friend if she’d like to try this together so we can just split everything including the grocery bill :D

  • Mrs. Frank

    Even if I don’t have the budget to cook for full months at a time, I often double what I’m making and freeze half for a future meal…breads, full courses,etc. It builds up just enough to keep things not too old, and perfect for sudden changes in plans, sickness, and all the impromptu life adventures.

  • margot

    You know how lots of people on this site don’t support companies whose values they don’t agree with (i.e., Kraft)?

    I just cannot support a company with my hard-earned money that is promoting gender roles I don’t agree with. If the company were called Once a Month Parent, I’d be a customer. But I’m not interested in supporting a company that sends the message that women should entirely or primarily do the cooking, home-making work or child-rearing. This name is offensive. It also dishonors fathers and men who do the cooking.

    • Liz Tea Bee

      I admit, the name bothers me too. I think the “Mom” was originally intended to refer to the blogger who was doing the cooking. It seems like Once a Month Cook(ing) would be more appropriate.

    • I know I could probably keep this to myself, and possibly should, but my first reaction was… um…get over it. While there are a small percentage of men who do the cooking for their families (my dad was one of them 30 years ago when it very much wasn’t the norm) the fact is that this site probably resonates with women more just because these tasks often fall to us. That’s not a negative thing. And any guy coming to this site to get ideas should be able to realize that these ideas apply to him just as much even if the title says “mom.” I have a blog that is titled “mommyville” but anything I write about is about parenting in general. But, I’m the mom so that’s why I called it that. Sorry if that’s offensive. I’m just taking a stab in the dark that the author of this site is a “mom.” Makes sense. Doesn’t mean men can’t stop by or comment or share ideas…or be the cooks in their own kitchens.

      • Cathie

        Well said, Alecia.I appreciate your post and agree.

      • Elisabeth

        bahahaha! If anything, I’m offended that it makes it seem like my only job is cooking … now if she can find a way to roll all my other duties as a MOM into one day a month …

        I agree … the idea of this company name being sexist is laughable.

      • Katie

        I agree Alecia. Is there nothing people can take offense to? This is supposed to be a helpful blog, so one should just accept the help.

    • Marilyn

      I too could keep my comment to myself, but my first reaction was to laugh hysterically. I really needed a good laugh, so thanks for supplying one. If you don’t find the product useful, then don’t buy it, but to suggest that there is some hidden agenda because of the name of the company this woman has started – good grief!!! I think she is to be commended on taking the initiative to see a need and create a solution to help other FAMILIES have an easier way to make meals and save time and money. She could be sitting around complaining she couldn’t get a job, couldn’t feed her kids, didn’t have time to prepare decent food and had them living on pixie sticks and diet soda!

    • Margot, Liz was correct when she mentioned that the site was named Once A Month MOM because I was the MOM starting this once a month cooking site, (and yes we preferred “cooking” but as you can imagine that was already taken). Four years ago I never imagined this site would be what it is today, and you are right, it is more than a site for moms. The majority of our readers are moms but we have college students, singles, dads, empty nesters, etc. We know that and are working to make the site reflect its total audience. These things just take time. But it is not meant to pigeon hole anyone, it is simply the title of the mastermind behind it.

    • Jo

      I believe this is what we call a case of pseudo-social justice, a type of narcissism, the perpetual victims, constantly offended by everything. They give actual people working for social justice a bad name. The type that never actually take a stand worth taking and take a stand about everything because it gives them attention by screaming about silly things that don’t matter.

  • Jenny C.

    I’ve been stalking OAMM for a long time and debating about whether to try it. My biggest question is cost; not the cost of the menu, but the cost of foods in the menu. I noticed that one of the recipes you talk about contains quinoa, which I know is EXPENSIVE. I’m very careful about planning my own menus to take advantage of the sales at my local grocery store. If I do OAMM, I don’t want to blow my grocery budget.

  • Katelyn

    I tend to make a large batch of the things that freeze well (spaghetti sauce, muffins, pancakes, lasagna, soups.) We like a lot of variety so I rarely repeat meals in a month and cook almost everyday. Also, I’ve found that most things just taste better fresh made, but I guess I need to experiment a bit more with frozen meals.

  • [...] How to be a “Once a month” Mom @ 100 Days of Real Food [...]

  • Elisabeth

    We don’t have a big freezer – really – it’s side by side and I can’t even put a whole frozen pizza or turkey in there without removing racks, so this would never work for us. But I do make my own veggie black bean burgers ahead, as well as pancakes, refried beans, soups, brown rice, etc. and freeze them in portions that I can just pull out and heat on the stovetop or microwave … we also freeze breads and tortillas, since my 5 year old is the only one in the house who eats gluten – and I don’t want him to not get variety just to save a little money, so we buy bagels, bread, etc. and freeze what he can’t eat … saves a ton of money (we do the same with nitrate free deli meats). Also bacon – one pound lasts us over a month – we lay out the strips on foil, freeze and then peel them off and stick them in a ziplock … individual strips ready for the pan or microwave. Saves me a lot of money and time, so I can afford to buy quality food.

  • Sue Stone

    Back in 1986 (before wide-spread internet/one-touch access to recipes and menu plans), Wilson and Lagersborg wrote “Once a Month Cooking.” While most recipes include a can or jar — which may put off “real food” cooks — I used this book in the SPIRIT it was intended. I liked the idea that, at least temporarily, someone else was telling me what to cook. Even when I didn’t follow the menu plans, I cooked several pounds of chicken or beef in advance and froze recipe-size amounts in small freezer bags, chopped some fresh ingredients, and had others on hand. Our sons learned to create nutritious snacks and, when I worked late, could finish the remainder of the recipe or heat the thawed meal. I still enjoy having (at least a portion of) my meal done in advance. Plans change and meals are needed in emergencies. No biggie.

  • Hillary

    I love the once a month idea! I might not exactly use all the meals in that manor. But in those days that I don’t want to cook…I’ve got meals in the freezer that I know are made correctly for the freezer (make sense) and are whole food rather than what we used to do: fast food or frozen pizzas ?

    Here’s my problem…I was looking at the whole foods menu and was a little confused because I’m not sure what ingredients are 100% okay. One question I have is orzo (it’s is part of the Feb 2013 Shrimp & Orzo dish)? Is that an okay pasta?? My gut looking at it leads me to think no…but I’m crossing my fingers someone says yes. My family just won’t convert to whole wheat pasta and quinoa is bearable but the texture is really weird.

    • Donna

      If you don’t like quinoa or whole wheat pastas, just use brown rice or barley for the Orzo. To me it is the idea of it rather than sticking to meals exactly. You know what works for your family. We have “experiments” once a month or so, then vote “not for me”, “make again”, or “new fav”.

  • Jen

    I’ve done this for years but I’m to the point where I tend to cook for 6-8 weeks at a time (chest freezer in the garage :-) so I have the room) I’m now in the process of converting my recipes to a more whole food ingredient version. When you only ‘cook’ 7 or 8 times a year it takes a while to make the changes ;-)

  • Tamara

    I love OAMM! I work two nights out of the week, and need to leave meals that can be made quickly and easily for those nights (otherwise hubby is prone to ‘picking up dinner’). I pick and choose through the menus to find meals that the whole family will enjoy (and that hubby can prepare;). I also can’t quite do it just once a month. I cook a few meals each week, depending on what is on sale at the store. That way I don’t have quite as much to do at once, and I can help with the cost a bit. But I love the site to give me ideas about what and how to cook ahead.

  • In looking for freezer meals I ran across both the once a month mom site and then your blog. I think I may have to give it a try. I’m so busy with my 2 girls and really want to be able to feed them healthy meals. This seems like a good solution in our harried life.

  • Even living in a house with three adults I it find easier to bulk cook.
    It’s very hard to come home and cook dinner after school and work. Especially coming in at different times in the evening. I even take leftovers and freeze it as another meal. I’ve been doing this since my kids were small, they’re all grown. It’s just become a household thing.

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