Today I want to share with you the life-changing magic of freezer cooking (especially with Once a Month Meals). Let me take you way back to the fall of 2015 for a little story.
In September of 2015, many of you know, my dad passed away completely unexpectedly. To say it was a devastating shock feels like an understatement. My husband had just started working third shift, my little girl had just started kindergarten, she turned 6 the day after my dad died, and August is also a really busy time for me at work. I felt a bit like my world was flipped upside down and everything was just one big giant blur. It was like my life was in chaos for weeks.
Freezer meals + busy mom = true love.
And then, my husband’s Aunt sent me a text message asking me if she could make me a bunch of frozen meals to help in the coming weeks. I was amazed. Someone was going to fill my freezer with foods I just had to thaw and heat? I had heard of people making freezer meals before having a baby or going in for major surgery, but I had never really considered the idea of gifting someone freezer meals after a major death in the family.
Of course, I told her she absolutely could bring me over some food. I’m always happy to take whatever help I can get! A few days later my Uncle-in-law pulled into our driveway and unloaded a big laundry basket full of prepared, frozen meals for my family.
Those freezer meals were a lifesaver. In those first few weeks after my dad died I was exhausted, emotionally spent, and felt like I was stuck in slow motion while the world sped around me, but my family still wanted dinner every night. With my husband’s new work schedule, he wasn’t able to help out as much as I needed. With those meals though, I could just pull something out of the freezer, pop it in the oven, or heat it over the stove, and voila! Dinner was done.
Once a Month Meals + Freezer cooking = a match made in heaven.
I’ve always been intimidated by freezer cooking though. I don’t want to mess anything up and give my family food poisoning. I’m overwhelmed by the idea of cooking lots of meals at once. Where do you start, what order do you go in? So although I had seen the light and realized how amazing it was to have freezer meals, I was scared to try it out and be the one who actually did all that cooking.
I discovered Once a Month Meals. With Once a Month Meals, they take care of all the planning and organizing. They provide step by step instructions for every single part of the process. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a bit overwhelming to cook 10-30 meals all at once, but with their easy to follow process, you just go through the steps. There is no worry or stress about planning, no searching or tweaking of recipes for hours on Pinterest. It’s all laid out and simple.
I’ve done a few freezer cooking sessions now with Once a Month Meals guiding my process. I seem to be getting better and learning new things each new time to make the process even smoother, faster, and easier.
This past weekend I spent 8 hours making 18 meals to stock in my freezer for dinners in the coming weeks. Yes, 8 hours of chopping, dicing, cooking, pouring, and labeling. But for about the next month, when it’s dinner time, all I must do is slide a pan into the oven or drop a bag of food into my Instant Pot, and dinner will be served shortly.
My weeknights can now be spent relaxing, playing with my kids, reading a book, or let’s be real, I’ll probably just be folding endless amounts of laundry and having fights over homework. But at least dinner will be taken care of.
How Once a Month Meals Works
Once a Month Meals offers thousands of freezer cooking recipes and hundreds of pre-planned freezer cooking menus to help you create delicious, nutritious, and amazing frozen meals to stock your freezer. They offer a membership program that allows you to filter recipes, create custom menus, and then the magic happens.
Once you have your menu of meals you want to make you adjust the number of servings for the people in your family and their software creates for you a full shopping list, prep day instructions (all the chopping and meat cooking steps), cooking day instructions, recipe cards, labels, and a thaw sheet all specially tailored to your customized menu and desired servings.
I love how the instructions guide you step by step in a very efficient process to create all the meals on your menu. I also love that you can tweak and adjust your menu to include the exact recipes your family will actually enjoy. They also have incredible filter options so you can search for recipes that meet just about every dietary need and cooking option.
They have filters for allergens, baby, vegetarian, keto, Whole30, real food or traditional cooking, gluten and dairy free and more. You can also choose recipes by their cooking method if you’re just looking for Instant pot recipes or slow cooker recipes, or if you don’t have either you can stick with bake or stovetop options.
The site includes recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and sides so you can truly meal plan and prepare for all of your meals. Many of the menus offer a mix of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but newer menus include dinners only, and you can always customize any menus to create exactly the recipes and meals your family needs.
Freezer Cooking 101
Once a Month Meals truly makes planning and completing a freezer cooking session simple. However, freezer cooking is a marathon adventure. As I mentioned, my 18 meals took 8 solid hours (although I did have two kids and a dog interrupting me the entire time). Many of the menus available on the site include 30 meals, so you want to go into your freezer cooking session prepared for the long haul.
A very wise suggestion on the website is to start small. Once a Month Meals has a variety of mini menus which include just five recipes. You always double every recipe you create, so with 5 recipes, you will end up with 10 total meals for your family. If this is your first go-round with freezer cooking, just choose a handful of recipes to start with so you can get the hang of freezer cooking first.
If you decide to dive right into a full menu, be prepared for the process to take more than one day. You will need to shop for all of the ingredients (I actually used Shipt this time and it was awesome since I didn’t have to shop during a snowstorm). Once a Month Meals also has separate instructions for a “prep day” and a “cooking day”. I combined both days into one when I made my 18 meals, but if you are going with a full 30 meal menu, you’ll definitely want to split that up.
You’ll also need to be prepared with lots of freezer space (and fridge space during the prepping and cooking times). If you have a deep freeze or an extra freezer you will probably be just fine. We have a small chest freezer and it has plenty of room for all of our meals and the extra stuff I usually keep in the freezer (frozen berries and veggies, etc).
There will be quite a bit of cleanup after your cooking day since you are making so many different things. However, on the days you actually serve your meals, cleanup is usually a breeze. You might have a dirty pan or Instant Pot, but nothing else. And for many of the oven meals you’ll likely create them in disposable foil pans, so you won’t have any dirty cooking dishes. Hallelujah!
Today’s Action Step
Obviously, I’ve become a huge fan of freezer cooking and I’d encourage everyone to give it a try. Even if you just double up one of your family’s favorite recipes one night so you can freeze the extra batch for another night. It truly makes life so much easier on busy weeknights.
If you are ready to dive right in and try a Once a Month Meals menu and cooking session, you can sign up for a membership through this affiliate link. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
As a side note, all of the recipes and menus on Once a Month Meals are searchable and accessible without a membership. If you’re not ready for a membership you can still search for recipes and menus, and then create your own shopping lists and cooking plans. The membership just gives you access to the software that creates all the lists, plans, and labels that make it super easy. Membership also gives you access to chat support, the community, the ability to save and customize menus, favorite recipes, and additional tips, tricks, and suggestions to help you succeed (definitely worth the membership cost, but you don’t need a membership to start freezer cooking or even enjoy their recipes.)
Next week I’ll be sharing more details about the specific recipes I created last weekend (all Whole30 compliant and many are made in my new Instant Pot). One of my goals for this year is to really improve the way our family eats. This is definitely going to be a big challenge, especially with my son since the only vegetable he willingly eats is corn, but I’m determined to persevere. I hope to share any tips and tricks I learn as I progress. Join my email list to make sure you stay connected and get all of the latest delivered to your inbox each week.