Friday, August 21, 2015

Bulk Freezer Cooking - Gathering a Plan

I just joined a new program called Once A Month Meals - and I really think it has changed the way that we will approach shopping and cooking! It's a bulk shopping experience where you will make 30 meals in one day -- and have your freezer stocked to take the guess work out of cooking. It's a Mom's dream!

In the spirit of full disclosure -- my family is picky -- so while there are two levels of membership, I opted for the Pro Membership because it allows you to be able to change the menus and customize what you make based on your family's preferences.

There are 9 basic menus put out each month, but there are thousands of recipes in the archives that you can swap out in place of options on the current menu if you have the Pro Membership. They have all sorts of filters that you can use to find recipes as well - like seasonal, kid-friendly, and even by the meal you want to serve it.

The basic menu plans are: 

Whole Foods
Gluten Free & Dairy Free
Mini (these are smaller menus - only 5/6 recipes)

There aren't any limits on how many menus to try during the month -- so my plan is to do a full menu for this month, and see how it goes -- I hope that I can work it to shop and cook twice a month at most. Now -- that doesn't mean you won't reheat these items -- but reheating, and preparing a side or two is WAY easier than having to think about a whole menu plan each week. 

I think it will also save us money. I did the bulk shopping and I spend FAR less than I would have if I continue to shop every week. I did go back for a few produce items that my kids go through pretty quickly. I also plan in the future to make it go along with our trips to Costco -- which usually happen once a month -- but I've got some time to figure that out too. 

You also can tell the site how many servings you want to make for your family - so it works for everyone. Each recipe is designed to be doubled -- so you're making 15 recipes to get 30 sets of meals. I asked for 4 servings of each meal, and ended up making more than that for some of the recipes. 

The menu items I made this time were: 

Gluten Free Dairy Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Homemade Poptarts
Honey Nut Cereal Bars (this is the only one so far I'm not happy with)
Snickerdoodle Doughnut Mini Muffins
Strawberry Peach Smoothies
Homemade Spaghetti O's
Chicken Orzo Skillet
Down Home Spaghetti Sauce
Easy Freezable Beef Enchiladas
Easy Spaghetti Pie
Grilled Spinach Stuffed Chicken
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
Skinny Creamed Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops
Slow Cooker Chicken Bruschetta  
Sweet Tea Chicken

Once I settled on the menu -- I was able to print out the grocery lists, prep lists, cooking day instructions, recipe cards, thawing instructions, and also labels that you can print for the bags. It is THAT simple. They do it all for you! 

Once you pick your menu -- you'll do your bulk shopping -- then prep your vegetables and meats -- then have your BIG cooking day -- freeze your items -- then serve them and spend more time doing the other things that you need to get done for your family. 

Tomorrow, I will talk about how to plan for your shopping trip. I'll give you some tips that I got from the Once A Month Meals team and some of my own as well.

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