Recently my husband and I have been filling up our freezer in preparation for the arrival of our first baby. I decided I don’t want to worry about cooking for the first month or two after she’s born so I can concentrate on recovering from the birth, and of course bonding with the newest member of our family.
To help us get organized I subscribed to Once a Month Meals (OAMM) and it has been worth every penny! Basically, every couple of weeks we have a huge cooking day where we prepare and package 30 meals. Each meal has 4 servings and since there are only two of us that means that there is enough for lunch the following day giving us quite literally 30 days worth of meals (minus breakfast).
What is OAMM
So, how does OAMM help? Well, they give me a list of 15 recipes, a shopping list (for double the ingredients so I can make 30 meals), a prep list to pre-chop/dice/slice etc all the veggies, cooking day instructions, and labels for the freezer. Want to see a sample of these items? You can find it on this page here. I also have the option of creating a menu of my own using their swappable feature in their pro membership.
So far we’ve cooked two menus, one of their pre-selected menus, and another in which I selected the recipes (there are hundreds of recipes to choose from, so you’re sure to find plenty you and your family will like). Their standard menus include traditional, whole foods, gluten and dairy free, paleo, diet, vegetarian, baby food, and mini menus so no matter what your diet preference, you’ll be able to find something that works for your family. There is also a new menu in each category released each month to take advantage of seasonal foods which saves you money.
On top of all this, you have the ability to select the number of servings you want the menu to be for, so whether you have 2 people in your family or 10, OAMM will work for you. So, let’s review the features of OAMM:
- Shopping list (organized by aisle)
- Prep day instructions
- Cooking day instructions
- Recipe cards
- Freezer labels
- Customized or pre-designed seasonal menu, you choose
- Custom number of servings
- Hundreds of recipes to choose from
- Seven different menu styles to choose from
- Amazing customer service
- Article database with helpful tips
Tips for OAMM cooking
Cooking 30 meals in one day is quite different than cooking just one meal at a time and OAMM makes it easy by organizing everything ahead of time. There are however a couple of things that I have learned to make cooking day a lot easier. Here they are:
1. Read through the recipes first
You want to make sure that you know what all the ingredients are for in case you need to make substitutions based on preference or availability. Also, double check the shopping list quantities to the recipes just to make sure noting was left off.
2. Wear running shoes
Not because you will be doing any running, but because you will need the cushioned support they provide while you’re on your feet for hours at a time. The first time I did a major cooking day I was barefoot and my whole body was so sore by the end of the day. So, do yourself a favor and wear some cushioned shoes.
Another trick is to buy those gel mats… we have two and usually stack them one on top of the other for extra cushion.
3. Clean your kitchen before you start
You’re going to need room in the sink to hand wash your big mixing bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons etc so that you have enough clean prep materials . Also, at the end of your cooking day you’ll want an empty dishwasher to load all your dirty dishes into so that you can wake up the next day to a clean kitchen. There’s nothing worse than having chores waiting for you when you wake up!
4. Use a trash bowl
Place a huge bowl on your counter top that you can throw veggie scraps and food wrappers into. This will save you from walking across the kitchen to your trash can over and over again which will save you a lot of time.
5. Label your bags before you put the food in
Trying to tape a label onto a freezer bag once it’s packed full of chopped veggies and a roast, or a bunch of soup is pretty difficult, so make sure you label your bags ahead of time.
6. Buy convenience
A lot of recipes call for minced garlic and/or diced veggies and you can save yourself a lot of time if you can find these things already chopped up for you. Most grocery stores have jars of minced garlic which will save you a lot of time. The freezer section will also have diced onions, diced butternut squash, and various other pre-diced veggies to save you time on prep day.
7. Don’t be afraid to split up your cooking day
How OAMMs works is you do your shopping on one day, prep work on the next, and then cooking on the third day. That way you’re not overwhelmed. But, I have found that splitting the cooking day into two days keeps me from being completely exhausted. So, don’t be afraid to stop early and pick it up the following day.
8. Create an inventory list
Create a list of all the meals you cooked and how many meals of it there are along with the date you put them in the freezer. When you take a meal out, write in the new number of that particular meal left in the freezer.
Once a Month Meals isn’t just handy for preparing for a new baby, use it to get a home cooked meal on the table now that after-school activities are here again, or to give you that extra time to put your feet up after work. Click here to get your own subscription today!
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Photo by Baron Valium is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0