How To Cook Just Once a Month

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!

But what if you could eat real food and only cook once a month? Yep, 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

When 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.

Once a Month Mom menus - 100 Days of Real Food

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 Food

The 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.


Recently we hosted a Facebook LIVE Real Food Freezer Menu Assembly with our friends at Once A Month Meals. Check it out!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!

136 thoughts on “How To Cook Just Once a Month”

  1. I really want to do this now; I’m going in for minor surgery 9/21 a n have a new PT job, 8hrs each on Thur, Sat and Sun. I am disabled, and haven’t worked for 4 years. Plus, with my disability, I wind up getting takeout twice a week… And my wallet and our waistlines and energy levels show it!

    But I’ve got a 3/4-s full freezer, with homemade soup stock, some bones, 4 boxes of 24-each bratwurst from SIL, and 6 boxes of puff pastry. What do you recommend??

  2. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

    Hi there. We do freeze mostly in glass, from pyrex type containers to mason jars. Sometimes plastic zipper bags (that I reuse as many times as possuble) are the only practical alternative and we use them sometimes, especially when we want to prevent freezer burn. Ziploc bags are BPA free and I don’t worry about the cold use of them.

    1. Ok, thanks for the mason jar tip! That’s a good idea for when I run out of Pyrex. And good to know about the ziploc bags!

  3. I often make large batches of soups, chili’s, burritos, etc. to have in the freezer. My problem is, I never take them out in time! What’s the best way to thaw?
    I’m curious, what do you freeze everything in? I can’t quite tell from your picture. I put everything except muffins in Pyrex glass containers, but I keep having to run out and buy more, which of course is expensive! But I worry about chemicals leeching into the food from plastic bags. Am I being too paranoid? My husband thinks I’m crazy. :)

  4. Whenever I make meals that are more time consuming I always prepare at least double to freeze. My lasagna, meatballs, chicken and rice casserole, refried beans, soups/chili. I usually take 1-2 days to make these things now that we do them as whole food as possible. I just have to plan a day or two ahead and do some of the parts like veggie chopping/cooking, or making the sauce ahead of time. I love the idea of cooking for a month, but I could never afford to do it all at once. I’d have to do two weeks at a time.

  5. I cook ahead! Truthfully, it’s the only way I can feed my family well on the busiest of days. As a former personal chef, I put together an ebook of my most popular recipes, and all of the steps to make it a simple– successful– process of stocking your freezer with family meals. Here’s the scoop on that in case you, or any 100 readers would like to check it out: http://fullplatecookinglessons.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-scoop-on-bonus-hours-faq-on-stock.html

    I am working on a second edition to come out this winter, since the first one was so popular and easy for everyone to accomplish!!

  6. I usually have a couple of meals a month that I pre-cook and freeze or when I know I’ll be unable to cook for some amount of time, like when I had knee surgery earlier this year and premade over 25 dinners (that were large enough to include lunch left overs)!

  7. Yeah I thought of that after I posted the question. ha! Thank you again Amy. OAMM looks like a great resource, especially if I decide to keep this up after my ten day pledge. I am single and don’t have children, but I am always on the go so convenience is key for me to be able to continue to eat this way after the ten days. After reading about what is in the food we eat I’d really like to try to maintain this type of lifestyle. There are certain non real food items that I don’t think I could ever eat again! Yeck!

  8. Will they tailor this to one person? It’s just me…no kids, but I am always out and about. Cooking all my meals for one month would make life much easier.

  9. I think you’re asking me? Total grocery is still too high which is why I’m reading this site (We do almost 100% organic and gluten free) :) Estimate is maybe 2.50 a person.
    Grain component is about 30% less than if I were to go to a grocery store.

  10. Azure Standard and iherb sell grains like quinoa for a lot cheaper. I would be careful overdoing it with the brown rice if your family has food allergies. We try to rotate the grains as much as possible.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 ;-)

  15. 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.

    1. 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”.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. Not sure about the particular recipe you are talking about, but quinoa and rice are interchangeable in most recipes.

    2. Jenny,
      I think there are SEVERAL posts that you need to check out on OAMM that will help you jump this hurdle.
      http://onceamonthmom.com/get-started-five-easy-steps-and-resources-for-starting-freezer-cooking/
      http://onceamonthmom.com/get-started-saving-on-your-once-a-month-cooking-costs/
      http://onceamonthmom.com/get-started-budgeting-for-your-once-a-month-cooking-day/

      I believe that you will find that ALL of our menus are economical. It is probably that the quinoa will be balanced by other lower cost items, etc. But those posts should help you with the monetary side of things.

  20. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

    3. 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!

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    1. 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! :)

  27. 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! ;)

  28. Love this! I have been doing this for quite some time. I had surgery a few years ago and was off work and began doing this and it has been a lifesaver! We have 5 children ages 13-21 and having meals ready or ones that I can put together quickly is great!

    In fact, I have a website (it IS under construction at the moment but I still have some helpful tips on there! I am hoping to have the it complete and fully operational by 6-1-13 and ready for subscribers and members!) called http://www.homemadesmart.com I go one step further and help you to organize your schedule, in order to organize your home and life so that you are able to cook all your meals in one day. I make MOST of our meals from scratch, including lunch meat (watch my video on youtube!), carmal sauce AND sodas! I will be providing a menu for the entire month as well as video instructions (you can view my videos on youtube on Homemade Smart channel) for each of the recipes and the day of cooking instructions, as well as a calendar of things you ‘should’ be doing on that particular day (such as CLEANING DAY, LAUNDRY DAY, BATCH COOKING, etc).

    I provide helpful tip for your schedule, such as making lunches the night before, laying out clothing, and making sure backpacks are packed and ready to go. I also provide housekeeping and organizing tips that will save time and hopefully money.

    I also have a Facebook page called Homemade Smart and I post or re-post recipes, home tips, crafty ideas (although I am NOT a really crafty person!). I have re-posted items from this site several times. In fact, if you would like to private message me, perhaps we could collaborate and partner with each other. Enjoy and have a Blessed day!

  29. I love this idea {and have always wanted to do it, so this might be my inspiration}.

    But, on a completely off-topic note – where did you get those dishes? They are mighty cool :)

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      LOL, thanks Judith! I’m guessing you’re referring to the stainless ones? My father is Indian and my parents have brought me lots of stainless steel items back from India over the years. We love them – they are super durable and easy to wash. Thanks! :)

  30. I went to check out the site and possibly sign up but my virus blocker went nuts on their page! I got hit with 6 “high” warning virus alerts just from their main page. The concept sounds great but I am scared to go back to their site. Too bad!

  31. I have recently started freezer cooking and it has changed everything I hated about dinner time! I use the 2 cookbooks: Don’t Panic, Dinner’s In the Freezer (1 and 2). There are so many great recipes and we have loved everything we’ve tried. Recently, 2 friends and I chose 15 recipes, and we each made 5 and tripled them. It was a lot of work, but when we exchanged, it was well worth it! With leftovers and unexpected dinner plans, 15 meals took us much further than just 15 days.

  32. Good timing. My husband and I just cooked this menu on Sunday. We omitted the shepherd’s pie from ours. I had the Carrot Quinoa bar for breakfast on the way to work yesterday and was astounded at how yummy it was! (I don’t like carrot cake so I was skeptical.)

  33. Nice concept, but 14 dinners doesn’t even cover all the weekdays in a month, let alone every day; and I don’t want to eat the same thing twice in a month anyway. I have never been able to cook for an entire month at once, but I do prepare a week’s worth of dinner and breakfast pretty much every Sunday morning. I work full time and have a preschooler and a toddler, so prepping a meal each night is out of the question. I have created six weeks’ rotation of all our favorites, so that we don’t eat the same thing twice in that time, except that the adults do have dinner leftovers for lunch several times a week. It is a big commitment each weekend, but is working for us, and we avoid takeout food.

  34. I have been cooking, freezing and stocking meals for the last 20 years (first because I was working full time and then bc I had kids and couldn’t find time to cook during the week). The freezer is my best friend!! True, my feet hurt at the end of a seemingly endless cooking day and I don’t even feel like eating… but for weeks to come, cooking is not a necessity!

    A good idea is to keep an updated inventory of prepared and unprepared food in the freezer (I stick mine on the freezer). Labelling everything is essential! Too much looks the same when frozen. I reorganize my freezer every few months to keep things in order.

    Sometimes, I’m not upto cooking in bulk. So doubling recipes to freeze the other half really helps.

    Freezing ingredients is also a life saver – we usually get 50lbs of tomatoes during harvest, stew and freeze them in seperate bags. So all I have to do is pull out a bag of tomatoes when required in a recipe. We spent $400 for a full freezer years ago that sits in the garage and it has really paid off. I highly recommend the freezing and stocking method! Over the years, we figured out which things froze well and which we didn’t like (even if it’s supposed to freeze well).

    I must add that my husband is incredibly helpful in the kitchen. If he’s not around for the cooking, he’ll help with the clean up. That really is a huge help!

  35. I love this idea, I have never been good at cooking for a full day and freezing for another day. The concept is amazing but for some reason I need someone to tell me or show me step by step for me to fully understand and execute it. I just dont see how the food doesnt get freezer burn, or how long do you defrost, how long to cook the item…these questions keep me from doing it. But if I had a site to help me I would love to try!

    The only down side is my family and I are Vegans and the website does not have a vegan option :-( Hope to find something like this that fits our needs, this would be amazing!

    1. Cynthia. Yes, most people are intimidated by those factors which is why we built our resources for users just like you. To take the organization out of the day and show you exactly how to freeze things and how so you get in and out of the kitchen in the most timely manner.

      In the past we have done some mini vegan menus but not always had good results in terms of viewership. If we see a demand we will add it. Here are the things we do have that cater to vegans:
      http://onceamonthmom.com/oamm_menu_type/vegan-2/
      http://onceamonthmom.com/vegan-mini-november-2012-menu/
      http://onceamonthmom.com/10-day-mini-vegan-july-2012-menu/

      1. I’m also vegan and feed my family that way. As well as sticking to whole foods. Would love to see more options for this on your site! I double and freeze lots of recipes as is so I love this idea.

  36. I did something like this for our week at the Outer Banks last year. It was so nice to come home from a day at the ocean and smell dinner ready! Then we could go out for more family fun and splurge on a small junk food item instead of a whole meal. I will be looking here for new recipes and expand it to home use as well.

  37. back in the “olden days” I used Emilie Barnes cooking plan and some of those recipes are still part of our menus. One thing we did was to dbl recipes eat one and freeze the other for a few days to have a bit of a supply ahead to prepare for the once a month cooking start up so there was a good meal for the cooking days. I really think one should anticipate using some of the money saved by this method for purchasing a separate freezer. Ours finally croaked and I certainly do notice the difference in the money and time savings.

  38. yOu know how sometimes when you freezer cook, the reheated version is not up to par from fresh out of the oven…can be drier or dense up as it freezes…did you feel this was the case with any of the meals you tried?

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Out of everything, the only thing that didn’t heat up as good as it was fresh were the egg “cupcakes”. The rest were really good, though.
      HTH!

  39. I’ve used 30-Day Gourmet Big Book of Freezer cooking to make some great freezer meals. I haven’t ever done it for a whole month, but have been able to stock up on some of our favorites by making 6-8 of the same meals to freeze. It was such a blessing to be able to do that while pregnant to stock the freezer for those times after delivery that I just didn’t want to cook, but wanted something made from scratch.

  40. When you become a member, do you have access to multiple menus? For instance, I like the whole foods menu option, but have a baby too…can I also access the baby food menus? I looked through the site and didnt come across an answer. Thanks!

  41. My mom and I used to do this back in the late 70’s when my mom had to return to work. We loaded up on fresh food that we could cook up for the month and then we separated the food into individual plates. My brother and I loved that we could come home from school and pop them into the oven and in a few minutes we had dinner! What a savings and blessing. I still cook like that for my family and really love having good food on the run!

  42. I have done the once a month cooking day and found it was a little too exhaustive for me. I have twin 3 year olds and a 5 month old… and couldn’t find enough time for someone to watch them to include shopping and cooking. HOWEVER, I still use the OAMM site a lot because I love to get new ideas of recpies that freeze well. I usually try to make at least two meals on the weekend that I can double and freeze half and then one more during the week. That give me 3 extra meals a week usually… So I end up only cooking half the time and using freezer meals the other half the time…which are great when you get sick or just have a busy week. I also love it because if I have a friend that has a baby I always have something ready. Thanks for the great post!

  43. This sounds so great. But my husband is so picky, and between us wanting to avoid meat, and him hating tomatoes (in all forms, sauce etc.), I never find meal plans to work well for us. Is there any way to exclude certain ingredients?

    1. In addition to the Whole Foods menu they have a vegetarian menu. We just did the same batch of OAMM on Saturday and omitted mushrooms because I don’t like them. Tomatoes would be harder but I think you could work around it. It’s definitely worth looking at.

  44. Because insurance rates went up with my husband’s work, we have tightened our belts, and he’s taken on another job a few nights a week. Actually, he works full-time at his main job, and teaches for two different colleges four nights a week, in addition to working on his doctorate, and trying to be husband and daddy. As a result, meals at home have suffered! My two-year-old will at least try new things, but he has a basic menu he tends to pull from. I haven’t really cooked a whole lot just for me, and because my husband is gone 12 or more hours those four days, he tends to grab something on his way to class. I’ve seen lots of posts on Facebook about once a month cooking, but didn’t think it would work for us. This is really making me reconsider! I actually love to cook, but this crazy schedule has put a damper on that. I’m curious though, do you only get so many meals a month, or do you just double up on certain meals to have a couple of times? Thanks for your review!!

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Julie,
      The way that it works is that you can adjust for your family’s size which will increase your qty (if need be). However, the meals that you have you basically get two of. So you will have the same dinner (or lunches/bf’s) twice during a month. Obviously you can space them out so that they aren’t right on top of each other. In your case, I’d definitely suggest trying to cook on a day when he is home and can help with your little one. Keep us posted if you end up trying it! :)

  45. Elizabeth Wilhour

    Another resource I have used is make a mix books. They give several versatile mixes and basic foods with several options of recipes to make up with them. Either way,having already made ready to go meals from scratch makes cooking on busy nights( or any other night) much nicer,especially since by making them myself I can control what’s in them.

  46. Hello how do I get a plan started for this? I’m really interested in this idea. I think it is great idea.
    Thanks

  47. While I haven’t ever actually followed through with an entire OAMC cooking day, I have applied the thinking and planning to the cooking I do do on a regular basis. It is very easy to double up the cooking of recipes and freeze half for another day. Just be sure to label it, don’t depend on your memory. Beef, chicken and pork entrees, lasagna, spaghetti/pasta sauces, burritos, breakfast muffins, tortilla fillings, chili, soups and stew, etc. Another tip is to prep your vegetables as soon as you can after shopping day. Wash your veg and fruit, precut to what you need for the week. Dice and slice the peppers and onions, grate cabbage and carrots, cut brocolli or cauliflower into florets, etc. While this does mean you have to have foodsafe containers to keep all the cut up produce in the fridge, just this step done in advance makes a healthy supper so much easier every single day.

    1. This is very similar to what I do … when we have lasagna, I just make a bit more and freeze portions, then when I need dinner for just me, or a quick lunch, it’s easy to grab and reheat. My family of 3 has different dietary needs (my mom is borderline diabetic despite good diet control, I am gluten intolerant, my son is peanut and tree nut allergic). It is SO hard to make one meal that suits us all, so we tend to eat different meals at the same time, and then freeze the extras so most nights only one of us needs the kitchen to cook something up. Even pizza can be made ahead, and frozen flat in slices and placed in a ziplock baggie – then the kids can grab a slice and microwave or stick it in the toaster oven whenever – or you can thaw and send cold for school lunch. I make one or two pizzas a month, and we never have to opt for frozen or delivery pizza – just freeze the leftovers. This absolutely works, and no need to wear yourself out cooking all day … I like cooking, so to make it a chore takes all the fun out of it.

  48. I looked at the March menu from OAMC and it looks like there are only 6 dinners. Do more show after you sign up?

      1. When you tell the spreadsheet to cook for a family of 4, it calculates the recipe and containers to feed 8 people in 2 portions (2 spreadsheets, 1 for recipes the other for the grocery list). You are effectively doubling the recipe. So in one month you will eat the same recipe 2 times. 6 dinner recipes = 12 meals. Usually a menu is 3-4 breakfast, 5 lunches and 7 dinners, all doubled to be eaten twice.

        Also they tell you that with leftovers and eating out, being at church or other activities you would not cook 30 dinners in a month, so their experience is that 14 or so dinners is enough for a month.

      2. Rebekah Williams

        I cook very close to every day of every month. My husband eats the leftovers for evening snacks and morning snacks (crazy fast metabolism). But we are traditionalists for breakfast and dinner so we could possible adapt those recipes for dinner. 6 dinner recipes doesn’t sound like much of a favor.

      3. I too cook almost everyday of the month. I plan out my own dinners a week at a time. Lunch is leftovers and breakfast is something made right then like eggs or a muffin reheated from the freezer. I occasionally repeat popular dinners throughout the month like homemade pizza, but not more than 2 times a month. My husband is big on variety so 14 dinners and in all actuality 7 dinners repeated would leave me with half the month or more to go.

  49. Being in the ministry my work schedule is not a “traditional” schedule. I have to work several nights a week and always on Sundays. Some days I have to pack my lunch, supper, and snacks to take with me! I always cook ahead and am so thankful when I can pull something out of the freezer on weeks like this one where I have something late each night and a conference all weekend. I will definately watch the video to get some tips. Thanks!

  50. Some of the moms I work with were just talking about prepping a lot of meals at one time and voila!! Here is your article!! Sure gives me something to think about. I would definitely love to try this!

  51. I tried freezer cooking one month and I was way too exhausted! I now cook a weeks worth of meals at a time and find that to be much more manageable.

  52. On their site I previewed the whole-foods and diet menus for March. I like bits of both. Do you know if you can mix and match recipes or do you have to commit to one plan?

      1. Oh, I”m so excited to hear that! My husband and I did our first OAMM day on Sunday and we wishing for that ability!

  53. Deborah,
    SAHM or WAHM or work away from home mom, it doesn’t matter which kids don’t discriminate about wanting time and attention during the dinner prep hour. Freezer cooking is so helpful in those tight situations, or any situation.

  54. We used to have businesses in town that had everything pre-prepped for you and you just had to go measure out the ingredients and bag or put in containers…they’re now out of business and I seriously miss them. I’m cooking for me and my daughter though, so is there a smaller meal plan available? My friends in Columbia have a “freezer club” and they do something similar to this, but each person makes 6-7 of the same dish, then they meet and swap out. Just another way to make it work. I love having things in the freezer or fridge to take to work and to reheat up on our busy weeknights! Let me know about smaller portions and I will give it a go!

      1. I was getting ready to sign up but have a couple more questions:

        If I choose two servings, will that give us leftovers or just one meals worth?

        If I want to try gluten free this month and switch to whole foods, I can do that no problem, right? Or make the mini menu in addition to the other? For that matter, can I use some meals from each menu or I’m I sticking to one menu per month?

      2. That is a lot more questions. :) We do have a FAQ’s page you might want to visit that will help too – http://onceamonthmom.com/membership/faqs/. For an immediate answer, that will not give you leftovers, for leftovers we suggest adding a serving or 2. You get access to ALL menu types, current and those that come out when you are a member and all the past ones. That is 100’s of menus. And yes, that includes mini menus too. Everything.

        We don’t have an easy way to mix and match right now but we will be the end of the year. For now we suggest doing them as is or using this work around – http://onceamonthmom.com/get-started-creating-a-custom-grocery-list/.

        Feel free to ask more questions here or on our FB page, we love helping people be able to cook for their family.

  55. As a SAHM who works out of the house, I can’t wait to try this! I actually enjoy cooking, especially when I have the time set aside and everything I need. I do like the idea of cooking with a friend, just because it would be fun and productive. I also appreciate the options of meals, as other once a month plans are full of casseroles and things that we really wouldn’t choose to eat. Thanks for sharing!

  56. We have tried a couple of times, but I always get “stuck” on what will freeze well. I desperately don’t want to make something that will get ruined in the freezing process (I’m thinking rice dishes). So at this time, we buy our meats in bulk, if I make a meatloaf, I will make 3-4 of them for the weeks ahead, and the same for pasta sauce, and some soups. We keep fresh fruits and veggies for the side dishes and snacks. It’s great enough having all the food on hand for a month, having it ready to go in the freezer would be heaven.

  57. If you don’t have a whole day to dedicate to cooking another good way to stock your freezer is just make 2 or 3 times the recipe you’re having for dinner. 1 goes on the table, another goes in the freezer. You will find it doesn’t take that much more time to make the additional quantities and then you have future dinners ready!

  58. This is great! I would love to try it. I do make big batches of soup and beans so that I can freeze half, but this method would take it to the next level.

  59. Hi!

    I have two daughters with different food allergies. Are your me s adaptable to be gluten and egg free? I love the idea of making enough meals for a month! Thanks so much!

  60. Hi, I am confused – how is 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch (I opted out of 3 others), 6 dinners and 5 “Add Ons” enough food for a month? Or are you cooking massive amounts of each recipe? Maybe I am missing something? Thanks!!

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Melissa,

      I did make sure to adjust for my family of 6. And since I opted out of the 2 breakfasts and 3 lunches, I simply made my own things for those meals. Dinner was taken care of. Of course this was my choice, and if you follow it like it’s written you will definitely have enough for the month. HTH! :)

  61. I have been doing this for years!! Maybe not all organic foods but once a month nonetheless.. Trying to do it all “clean” might be a challenge but willing to try it!

  62. I have a group of good friends who swap freezer meals every couple of months. Once we know how many ladies are attending we prepare ONE meal (x number of times) then get together, swap and go home with all different meals. This makes the grocery shopping and prep much easier since you are only preparing one meal, just repeating it X number of times. We love it and it fills our freezers with a great variety!

    1. I’ve got a good friend that does this in Columbia, MO and a group of folks I know in Wichita, KS get together and prep things at a church kitchen so the social interaction can happen too.

  63. If the thought or the space required of a monthly freezer cooking session frightens you, Money Saving Mom (http://www.moneysavingmom.com) does a Freezer Cooking in an Hour series, where it’s just a small cooking session focusing on few recipes each week.

    I need to get back into the habit of freezer cooking.

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Lauren,
      This is a tricky question … first off, I left out a couple of lunches. Then I also used spices that I had on hand (as I’d assume most would do). I also had 1 lb. of ground beef in the freezer that I used. And I also shopped at Trader Joes and Earth Fare and got all organic products which some won’t do or even have access to. My total for my shopping trips was $119 with all of those factors involved. I should also note that I am not a couponer; I know that I should but I just can’t quite get it together in that area:). I’m sure you can get it much cheaper if you watch sales/coupon or even try CostCo/etc.!

      1. You only spent $119 the whole month? My weekly grocery bill, family of 4 – me, husband kids 4 and 2 – is on average $120. I use coupons when applicable (which is not often with real foods) and I use my stores shopper card. I don’t buy packaged crap and try to stick with organics for produce, diry and meat. What am I doing wrong budget-wise?

      2. You’re not doing anything wrong! I am sure that $119 did not cover every meal/snack/drink that was required for the month. That was probably the total for the 15 or so meals she made for the freezer.

      3. One thing I’ve learned in my couponing and budgeting days is to never compare to others! I could never save 40% or more on my grocery bill! That’s because I buy lots of produce and Organics andnot many packaged, coupon friendly items. ,If that budget works for your family that’s all that counts! Ours is about $100-$120 for 2 adults and 3, 5 and under. Less if I am strict to a menu each week.

  64. Kiran Dodeja Smith

    Jen,
    I have seen that a lot of people do it with a friend. It definitely helps with the cleanup as well as making things quicker. Maybe that would help? I honestly can’t tell you how nice it’s been to have choices in the freezer, ready to go. Once you get into it it is way worth it! :)

  65. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

    Wow I can’t imagine having my dinners for a month made! That is one long day of cooking, though. I should try this sometime. I think it would be great in the summer when we’re so busy outside I never feel like coming inside to cook.

  66. I have tried and tried to do the once a month cooking and find myself exhausted! Now every week or 2 I do a big batch of something (chicken chili on the stove right now!!!) We have dinner tonight, a few lunches this week and a few dinners worth in the fridge!!! next big batch is baked ziti…

  67. This post is just in time! I went grocery shopping with my 10 month old and was just EXHAUSTED from reading all these damn labels and FRUSTRATED that there is nothing pre-packaged that I feel OK with feeding him (we are moving to finger foods and I don’t know why this frustrates me more than the purées I make). As I was leaving (with a pre-pakaged “toddler meal”), I thought, “I am overreacting, everyone feeds their kids crap, why should I stress over it?”
    When I got home and saw the amount of sodium in this “food appropriate for babies,” it went straight in the trash. It’s not like it’s hard to steam veggies, etc. But you are right, planning ahead makes chips, crackers, etc. Seem ridiculous when you have healthy choices that require just as much work as opening a bag of of artificial ingregients.
    So, thanks for posting, I feel better about my choices, I just need to make posts and plan ahead so I don’t get caught in a moment of exhaustion/ weakness.
    Thank you!!

  68. Kiran Dodeja Smith

    Hi Christina,
    The pic in the post was that of my freezer … honestly, with the 8 x 8 pans suggested along with the use of freezer bags, I think it should be possible. Of course if you are super good at packing (and Tetris!) you may find it easier but I think it should work for you! Good luck! :)

  69. I’ve been wanting to do this, but I have an incredibly small freezer so I am not sure if I’ll be able to fit meals for 4 weeks for my family of 4 in there. Do you need to have a larger freezer in order to make this work, or can you use a small freezer and hope that you are (or know someone that is) really good at Tetris?

    1. I have a really small freezer (just the top of the fridge kind) and I am able to fit about 8 of the 8×8 dishes and quite a few ziploc bags. I have done the freezer cooking twice (I just completed my 2nd month yesterday) and it has worked out great and the portions are the perfect amount for my family (2 small boys and 1 hungry husband). I haven’t yet had an issue with size, you definitely have to arrange everything nicely, but it has all fit in mine :)

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