24 Jan

Once A Month Mom Cooking and Freezer Stocking

Posted by Jenna, Under Cooking

I know I’ve done several sponsored reviews lately, so I want to clarify that this is me writing a post about something I paid for and chose to do voluntarily. The people at Once A Month Mom have no idea who I am (other than the two payments I’ve sent their way over the past 6 months!) and I am writing this only because I know it’s something a lot of people are curious about and I wanted to share my experience! Just a note, in this post I frequently refer to Whole Foods grocery store and the Whole Foods menu from Once a Month Mom (OAMM). I tried to clarify each time, but I didn’t want people feeling confused!

A glimpse of my freezer filled with Whole Foods and Paleo menu items before baby comes.  All made entirely from scratch!

It’s 5:11pm on a Monday as I sit down to write this post. Can you hold on a minute while I go get a made-from-scratch Chicken Pot Pie in the oven?

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5:15pm and I’m back! And that includes yet another trip to the restroom (I’ve lost count of the number of trips I take on a daily basis at this point in my pregnancy). That short interval for preparing dinner is why I love freezer meal cooking. I know there are all sorts of pins floating around Pinterest that describe how to DIY this process, but I didn’t want to spend my time making grocery lists or calculating chopping amounts. That’s why I love the Once A Month Mom site. They feature menus filled with breakfast/lunch/dinner items made with seasonal ingredients to fit all sorts of diets including Whole Foods, Paleo, Vegetarian, and Gluten/Dairy Free. So far I’ve done two different menus, the Whole Foods menu in September, and the Paleo menu in January.

Want to know why you should give them your money? Because other than the chopping/cooking/wrapping, all of the work is done for you. They put out new menus with new recipes each month, they test out all of the recipes several times to figure out how to best adapt them for the freezer, and each of the menus includes Recipe Cards (with initial cooking instructions, freezing/wrapping instructions, and defrosting/reheating instructions), a Grocery List, Instructions (this feature is indispensable  as they’ve broken down the best order to make all of the recipes in), and Labels. All of these are created using spreadsheets and you plug in the number of people you want to cook for, and all of the recipe cards, instructions, chopping lists, grocery lists, etc, are updated with the correct amounts. You pay $8 for this and save yourself hours of time.

I have known about this for a long time but chose to wait until we had a larger kitchen and a bigger freezer to store it all in. You can find posts where women have made it work in small freezers, but I have a lot more counter space here in Palo Alto than we did in our apartment in Hyde Park, Chicago. We also were able to find a used stand-alone freezer to keep in the garage.

Budget

I think the question I get most frequently about this is “What does it cost?”. I’ll tell you what I paid for both rounds that I did, but keep a few things in mind. First, I live in Palo Alto which is a pretty expensive area of the country to be in. So maybe it will cost less for you. Second, I like to buy organic fruits/vegetables and “happy” meat. I was a bit more budget conscious with the second menu (the Paleo one) and decided to buy non-organic vegetables at Sprouts grocery store so the price was a bit lower, but with the first menu I bought almost everything from Whole Foods grocery store and the Farmer’s Market. Third, the cost will vary based on what you already have in your kitchen/pantry. I did the Whole Foods menu right after we moved and had to buy incredibly basic stuff like flour and olive oil because we didn’t have it on hand.

Before we talk numbers, we need to talk about what you’re actually making. You will specify how many people you are cooking for and that will determine how much you make. For four people you will make something like 60 servings (breakfast, lunch, and dinner items). I didn’t do the math on this myself, I pulled that number from the Once a Month Mom website. I’d estimate that the amount of food you make will last you about 1/2 to 2/3 of the month, including meals where you heat something up (like the chicken pot pie I defrosted at the beginning of this post) and eat as leftovers for a few days.

So, when you’re reading how much I spent on groceries for these menus, keep in mind that I said I was cooking for 3 people.

In September I did the Whole Foods menu and as I mentioned above we had almost nothing in the house, so I was buying basic kitchen staples along with the produce and meat I needed. The numbers that follow are probably a bit high because I was buying other things we needed for the house as well. I went to Whole Foods grocery store and bought organic vegetables and non-organic (but sort of happy, I hope) meat and spent $207.72. I didn’t spend all $207 on produce and vegetables, but I don’t feel like digging up my reciepts to see exactly what I bought (some of the stuff came from the bulk section as well). I remember that I broke down my ingredients between Safeway and Whole Foods grocery and tried to buy as much as I could from Safeway because I assumed it would be a little bit cheaper. My total spent at Safeway was $176.69. The total spent on the September Whole Foods menu was something like $384.41. I’m not going to do the math to figure out the cost per serving because I’m just not that blogger. :)

In January I did the Paleo menu*. For the numbers for this menu I had the receipts on hand, so I went through and deducted any items that weren’t specifically for the Paleo cooking experience (like my Red Raspberry Leaf tea) in an attempt to be as accurate as possible. First I went to Sprouts (which is like the inexpensive cousin to Whole Foods grocery IMO) and bought non-organic vegetables and a few staples (beef broth, coconut oil, etc), and spent $66.31. Next up was Whole Foods grocery where I bought all of my meat (none of it organic, but all of it rated on the “humane” scale that WF uses, and none of it on sale) as well as almond meal flour, ghee, etc. My bill for Whole Foods grocery came out to $246.35 (the meat alone cost me $194.63**). My last stop was at Safeway where I bought the frozen items I needed as well as the freezer bags and tinfoil, all for $43.21. The total spent on the January Paleo menu was $355.87. And do keep in mind that this total doesn’t include the cost of things we already had in our kitchen (like coconut milk, we had a lot of that already after Christmas spent with a mom who is dairy-free).

My takeaway from this is that if you live in an expensive area and you’re going to buy expensive meat and organic veggies the experience is probably going to cost you somewhere around $350.

Time Breakdown

Good thing I’ve been raving about this experience thus far, because things are about to feel really overwhelming. Even with a good deal of the work done for me (what to make, what to buy, how much, how to cook it, how to store it) it still takes many, many hours to put this all together. Here is my outline for the Paleo menu (which I did while 9 months pregnant, which is rather stupid of me, but I was waiting for the Paleo menu and I somehow survived… with the help of TH who came home from work and helped me finish everything off!):

Monday – 30 minutes spent signing up for the OAMM site, plugging in the correct servings, and looking over the spreadsheets to make sure everything worked properly and that I understood what I was doing.

Tuesday – 30 minutes going through my kitchen to determine what we already had so I didn’t buy duplicates.

Thursday – 2 1/2 hours of grocery shopping. 30 minutes putting all of those groceries away.

Friday – The big day! I started chopping veggies at 10 am and stopped for the night at 9pm. Chopping veggies and preparing meat took about 4 hours***. About 11 hours of work total and I’m very grateful to TH for all of his help bagging and labeling at the end!

Saturday – 90 minutes spent cleaning up the kitchen and making the Kale Smoothies that I didn’t do the night before. That includes 3-4 rounds of running the dishwasher too.

Total: 18.5 hours

I have to admit though, that I was really dreading this Paleo cooking day, and after it was over it didn’t feel so bad. I sat down as much as possible, and I really liked this Paleo menu because it had several slow-cooker meals on it which means you make a sauce/dressing and throw it all together in a ziplock bag for later. Very easy. Once I have enough Paleo slow-cooker freezer meals that I like it would be nice to do a round where I don’t do any cooking at all on the prep day.

Taste

Is it going to taste as good as something made from scratch the same night you eat it? Never. That’s how freezer food works! So far though we’ve really enjoyed the things we’ve eaten from the Whole Foods menu. We haven’t tried everything yet, but so far That Husband devoured the burritos (he liked the Smothered Green Chile Breakfast Burritos the best). I chose to make the tortillas homemade via the included recipe and was surprised by how much he liked those as well. My mom ate the Curried Coconut Chicken Soup (she is dairy-free) and asked where I got the recipe. My favorite is the Spicy Thai Basil Beef, which I’ve actually made several times since then. Why did it take me so long to discover fish oil?

I can think of one thing I didn’t like from the Whole Foods menu, the Carrot Apple Nut Muffins. They weren’t terrible, but they were a bit dry and didn’t reheat that well. One item that I struggled with was the Lunchbox Chicken Pot Pie. Individual servings wasn’t working for me, so I dumped the entire thing in a square disposable pan and made one giant chicken pot pie. It’s a bit mushy, but I add a dollop of sour cream whenever I eat it and it’s great.

I’m going to start eating the Paleo menu items once I move into “weightloss after baby” mode.

Tips

DO NOT DO THIS WHILE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY NUMBER OF TODDLERS/BABIES. I did the Whole Foods menu with T1 at home, and he completely trashed the house (as in, took a bag of flour and literally threw it all over the living room) while I cooked/assembled. I did the Paleo round while he was out of the house for the day. In the future I’d like to find someone to do pair up with. Maybe we rotate back and forth and one of us watches the kids while the other does the cooking, or we bring the kids all to one house and switch off “babysitting” while the other does the cooking.

Don’t do the menus when they are first posted. Wait about a week until any problems/issues are reported by the users and the kinks are worked out.

We technically only have 2 adults in the house, but I always plug in that we are cooking for 3 (I don’t think T1 counts because he so often eats only a bite or two and then tries to make me give him a banana or something). Add in an extra serving or two to your calculations and you’ll have even more in your freezer.

Be ready to adapt. In the Whole Foods menu round I struggled with the Chicken Pot Pie. For the Paleo menu I forgot to put the tomato sauce on the pizzas (I cooked them and have no idea how they’re going to reheat) and had no interest in rolling bacon around individual pieces of chicken when I was so tired so we attempted to turn the Honey Glazed Chicken Bites into some sort of casserole by putting the chicken into a tin, adding in pieces of cooked bacon, and pouring the sauce over it. I have no idea how it will turn out but… what can you do?

Oh! The Paleo menu for January 2013 has a mistake and doesn’t tell you to add all of the required the sweet potatoes to the Crockpot Sweet Potato Basil Soup (when I was putting it together I said out loud “This doesn’t seems like enough”). I realize this sounds like a no-brainer to do on your own, but when you’re managing this much stuff at one time you get caught up in doing exactly what they say and will make silly mistakes that you wouldn’t otherwise.

 A glimpse of the aftermath in my kitchen after I finished the Paleo menu. I recommend cleaning up the next morning when you’re rested (especially if you’re pregnant). I ran my dishwasher several times and avoided hand-washing as much as possible and it all felt much less overwhelming than it would have if I had forced myself to clean up the night I finished cooking/preparing all the meals.

Q&A

Is it worth it?

For me, absolutely. Right now I have a 2-year-old who eats little more than a few bites of whatever I make him, and a husband who only eats dinner at home on Friday, and any meals we eat at home on the weekend. I don’t want to cook meals for just myself four nights out of the week, especially once we have a newborn to manage! Another huge draw for me is that everything I eat from this menu is made entirely from scratch. Those are my priorities. If budgeting is your priority you can read posts like this one that talk about making entrees for $2.87 a serving for a family of four (their total for 60 meals was $171.90).

 How do you reheat everything?

Another reason I think it’s worth it to pay for the menus – they have thawing instructions as well as reheating instructions for everything you make! Takes all of the guesswork out of eating homemade meals out of your freezer.

How long do your frozen meals last for in the freezer?

The Once a Month Mom people are the experts on this, and they say 3-6 months when stored properly. The Chicken Pot Pie I opened the post talking about was made at the beginning of September, and I made it near the end of the following January and it tasted great.

How does this fit in your freezer?

We have a side-by-side, and with a little bit of organizing the entire Whole Foods menu fit inside. In November I bought an upright freezer for the garage, so now we have more freezer space than three people could possibly need (I’m hoping that breastfeeding will work out this time and portions of our freezer space will be taken up by that :) ).

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Whew! Now that I’ve written all of that up, I’m curious… who is going to give this a try? And if you’re somewhere near Palo Alto, are you interested in being my freezer meal buddy?

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*I’ll try to get to a post in the near future that explains why I’m eating Paleo after labeling myself as a mostly vegetarian for so long.

**If you’re curious what kinds and how much meat I bought for the Paleo menu ($194 worth) here is what the spreadsheet told me to buy. I didn’t worry about the pastured/grass-fed labels although most stuff at Whole Foods fits these descriptions:

6 slices bacon, “clean” (nitrate, nitrite free, etc.)
1.5 pound ground sirloin, pastured
2.25 pounds beef flank steak, grass-fed
3 pounds beef spare ribs, grass-fed
7.5 pounds boneless skinless, organic, free range chicken breast (I bought half this amount because I already had some in the freezer).
3.75 pounds clean, boneless country style pork ribs or pork shoulder
3 pound ground beef, grass fed
2.25 pounds lean stewing beef, grass-fed

****OAMM recommends that you do your vegetable chopping the day before, but I can’t manage chopping the veggies and managing T1 at the same time. It would make the cooking day much less overwhelming.

53 Comments


  1. So interesting. I would love to give this a try but we have a one shelf freezer in our tiny studio so that won’t work. Once we move I plan on trying this out for sure.

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  2. I’ll admit that I’ve been very interested in your food adventures ever since you started writing about your families choice to eat more clean/ethically. It’s inspired me to buy more humane meats and incorporate vegetarian meals (my husband even likes some of the veg dinners I make after protesting at first!).

    I was interested to see how you liked the freezer meals. I’ve seen it all over pinterest, but that was mostly freezing marinated meats and then grilling them in the summer. After reading your experience, I don’t think the process is worth it for me. It seems really daunting and I appreciate your honesty that it’s good food but not the same as freshly made from scratch.

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  3. I am very interested but I just don’t see how 8 dinners is a whole months worth of meals?

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    Jenna Reply:

    You definitely have to be willing to eat leftovers, because it’s about servings more than it’s about dishes. For instance the chicken pot pie has turned into 6 servings for us. Since I’m eating it alone that equals 6 meals for me.

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    Sarah Reply:

    Oh darn, leftovers are a no-go for my house. Maybe I could split the larger dishes into two smaller containers and then they could really be like 2 totally different meals?

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    Jenna Reply:

    Yep! I have lots of the soups frozen in smaller servings so I can defrost them just for myself. I’m lazy about the casserole type stuff and the items that require some work to reheat later on (a few of these are crockpot meals) but I think diving things in 1/2 would work most of the time.

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  4. Marissa C says:

    I’ve always been tempted to try this but:

    We don’t have a spare freezer

    My husband is picky about reheated stuff

    I have a feeling I’d end up going to the grocery store anyway and doubling a lot of things. Maybe in prep for a baby or something–that might work.

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  5. I’m desperate to try freezer cooking. I’ve tried in the past with frozen burritos but I never really get it right for things like soup – potatoes never freezer properly, in my opinion. You’ve inspired me to start eating down the contents of our freezer so that I can do a proper month of freezer meals and her Vegetarian menu for January looks pretty delicious, so I might do a test run with a few items.

    I do think the “once a month” name is a little misleading, because the amount of meals don’t necessarily equal a full month, but even having 8 dinners in the freezer is 2 meals a week that I don’t have to cook. We usually eat leftovers for lunch, so I think I would either make the lunch meals for dinner or skip them entirely. Same with the breakfasts.

    Did you have to buy containers or did you use tupperware you had on hand? It looks like a lot of this goes into plastic ziplocks, but is the stuff wrapped in foil in oven safe containers or what?

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    Jenna Reply:

    I wish I could tell you how long the meals last based on our schedule of eating, but I’ve been saving them up for the baby so I still have almost everything from September :).

    As far as storage, the shopping list tells you what to buy (plastic bags, disposable containers, tinfoil) so you have everything on hand. Most of it goes in plastic bags (except anything that resembles a casserole for the most part).

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  6. I am never going to do this (since I don’t even cook regular meals) but thought the post was so interesting. Thanks for describing the process so thoroughly: learning how it all works was very fascinating to me.

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  7. Jenna, I really enjoyed this post. I am inspired to try it, thank you! It will give me more time with my toddler daughter and husband every evening, and definitely seems worth the one day time investment (and planning)!

    I also just wanted to tell you that I’ve really missed your writing. These last few posts have felt like such a treat! I enjoy a cup of tea and a little ‘coffee’ break at work as I read. I know you will have even less time as the new baby comes (congratulations and I hope it’s a girl!) but just wanted to let you know that even a quick post is so appreciated and enjoyed. Don’t worry about proof-reading or editing – just know we enjoy your words!

    Thanks!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Thanks Kate, I really appreciate this comment. I think part of my problem is that I have so many posts like this one that I want to write, but I turn them into a big deal (this one took forever!) and I just don’t have time right now. I also want to do some on potty training, T1′s school, etc etc but they always feel so complex in my brain. I need to work on simplifying and not making it so hard on myslelf.

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    Steph Reply:

    Agreed!

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    Steph Reply:

    (That it’s great to see new posts, that is. And it’s ok if they are short!)

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  8. Jenna, thank you so much for sharing. I was excited when I saw you would be posting on twitter. This is really fascinating. I think once I move out of my apartment and have more freezer space/counter space, this is definitely something I’ll be interested in trying. Thank you for breaking it down and explaining things so well.

    I also agree with Kate above, getting posts from you is such a treat these days! Always look forward to new ones :)

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  9. Thanks for the play-by-play! I love making homemade soup and freezing it for later. Always wondered about doing this and will probably try it soon. When you first mentioned that website I thought “Surely it isn’t worth it” but alas, I agree the tips, recipes, reheating instructions etc., would be very helpful to me.

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  10. According to the animal-using industry and some misinformed members of the general public, this term refers to various forms of animal flesh produced from the bodies of “happy” animals, such as those commonly depicted in cartoon or CGI form in advertisements. These romanticized depictions imply that the animals used by the industry live an idyllic life on green pastures under blue skies. Within the animal advocacy community, it is an ironic term for animal products promoted by the animal-using industry and some animal organizations as being “Humane,” “Compassionate,” “Cruelty-free,” “Cage-free,” “Free range,” “Pasture-raised,” “Organic,” or “Animal-friendly.” The irony derives from the fact that such labels create a false and misleading impression in the minds of the public, who would be both horrified and disgusted were they to actually see everything that happens to the animals whose lives are exploited and cut short in order to create these products. For background, see Compassion for Sale: Doublethink Meets Doublefeel as “Happy Meat” Comes of Age. http://www.humanemyth.org/mediabase/1013.htm

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  11. I have used Once A Month Mom for over a year now for a “cooking club” of myself and 4 girlfriends. I do not do the full menu but rather pick and choose 6 recipes that we want to do (I do not pay for a membership since I do not utilize the grocery lists, etc but it does require extra work on my part figuring out our grocery list.)

    I have found a good way to keep the cost down, is to create a spreadsheet of all the items needed for your cooking day. Each Sunday when the adds come out, figure out what is on sale that week and purchase each week what you need (marking it off on your spreadsheet so you don’t duplicate). Doing it with friends is also a good way to keep the cost down as you can get lower cost items in bulk. I have to admit, this is a lot of administrative work as the coordinator of our cooking club but I don’t mind since I’m kind of a spreadsheet dork and LOVE grocery shopping.

    We do 6 meals that each serve 4 people each month. The total monthly cost per person is actually around $30-35. (That’s $1.25 per serving!) Now granted, I live in a cheaper area of the country and I haven’t necessarily stuck to organic/clean foods so it will be a bit cheaper but still a great deal :)

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    Jenna Reply:

    Thanks Jody! It’s nice to see your cost breakdown.

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  12. Thanks for your review. I’m glad to hear that your total cost was not too crazy. We eat paleo and one of the hard parts is managing costs.

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  13. Aithnea Micheals says:

    Wow! You really make me want to give this a go. One thing that I was wondering about was transportation of the groceries. I am unable to drive and the idea of dragging a toddler around town on transit well carrying a month’s worth of groceries is daunting. How did you bring your groceries home? And how did T1 handle 2+ hours of shopping for food?

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    Jenna Reply:

    Oh man! I’m glad I lived in Chicago so I can have a handle on what this might be like.

    First, do you have a small freezer? I think you could fit everything if you’re very careful about freezing flat and you clear it out completely beforehand.

    Second, it’s a LOT of stuff. I can see myself being able to manage just barely as long a I took a stroller with a huge basket and I clipped some big reusable bags on the back of the stroller, and I broke it up over a few shopping trips. It’s possible, but it will be tough I think. Out here I have a car.

    T1 was with me when I went shopping for the first time, which took me over 3 1/2 hours, and the end of our shopping as pretty awful. He was exhausted, I was too, and I had to literally drag him around the store to get it all in. Especially since I had to buy lots of random things that I had a hard time finding like fish oil, etc. I don’t regret it, but it was awful at the time.

    I’ll be so interested to hear how it goes if you attempt it!

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  14. I can’t believe the timing on this… Was just pondering the freezer mean idea (for the thousandth time) this morning, and opened my Reader to find this post! Thanks for taking the time to detail this out for us! xo

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  15. At the moment, I am not working so cooking and grocery shopping is my hobby every day but I would totally do it down the track to simplify things a bit. Even so, if I make certain things (like spaghetti squash) I will freeze half and use the rest the next week so things don’t go to waste with the two of us and to reudce time spent on a part of cooking i don’t enjoy.

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  16. It’s a good idea, definitely. It doesn’t fit my current lifestyle, but it’s cool that it fits for you guys. However, having lived through Hurricane Sandy and being forced to dump nearly everything in our freezer, there’s no way I’d ever risk having that much cost and effort lost when the power goes out.

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    Jenna Reply:

    that’s something I hadn’t thought of! We’d be pretty mad if an earthquake happened.

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    HRC Reply:

    I was just thinking about earthquakes today as I put $300 worth of meat in the freezer. We would be totally screwed.

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    Jess Reply:

    Invest in a generator now, before it’s everyone is clamoring for one. It’s good to have the ability to turn on a couple of lights and power other necessary things, anyway.

    Also you might be able to claim it back through your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Young House Love wrote about doing that after Irene. YMMV

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    Tina C. Reply:

    Honestly, in the 30-some-odd years I’ve lived in California, I can only think of two…maybe three earthquakes that have been big enough to warrant worrying about the electricity going out for any troublesome amount of time – and those earthquakes were the big ones (San Francisco in 1989, Los Angeles 1994). I think you’re more likely to have electricity/power outages from trouble with PG&E or with someone hitting a power transformer near you. :)

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  17. This sounds pretty cool, like menu planning on crack. I did ” Let’s Dish” a couple weeks ago where you go and assemble a bunch of meals to stick in the freezer. Using a groupon I got 24 servings for $60. Plus 8 sides with 6 servings of each. I’m a meal freezer, but it was really nice to have the variety instead of the same old stuff I always make. I’ve been wanting to find a meal planning service online, I just don’t have extra time to plan our meals!

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  18. I just did the paleo menu with my sister! We set it for 6 people (then split everything) and bought all of the groceries at Vons and Trader Joes using sales and coupons where we could. We each spent $172.50. I had most of the spices, and we obviously didn’t get organic everything. It took about 5 hours. Definitely worth it! Having someone to help was amazing (I’m also pregnant, have a 1 year old, and a 2.5 year old we were watching at the same time).

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  19. DEFINITELY look into a generator. We had an entire freezer full of deer meat (the hubs hunts, and we had TWO deer processed as well as local fish he caught like flounder and redfish and SO MUCH ORGANIC MEAT AHHH!) and I thought I was unplugging a drill charger to plug in the baby monitor in the garage. Yeah, no. I unplugged the freezer. For FIVE DAYS! Sorry for the all caps crazy, but it was an epic loss. Hubs was very understanding, but we were both super sad. It was about 70 lbs of meat and fish just gone in one fell swoop. Plus it was disgusting to clean! I’m still crying about it…

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  20. This is really interesting. I don’t think we’d be able to eat the same thing multiple times a month. I did try a couple meals I found on Pinterest. I wanted to start small to see which dishes we liked.

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  21. Jenna,
    Thanks for writing the post about the once a month cooking. I think it is a great idea, but do you ever mix it up by grilling any fish or chicken? I wish I had a bigger freezer as I would definitly try it. Right now my go to for meals ready when I get home from work is the crockpot. Looking forward to your next post!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Alison,

    We don’t have a grill, but I’ve actually been stockpiling these meals for after the baby so most of the stuff I make is fresh stuff (well, that’s how it used to be, I’ve been getting really lazy toward the end of my pregnancy!)

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  22. Jenna,
    I would not call what you are doing lazy! I am sure it will be great to have all of these lovely meals waiting after the baby comes.

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  23. Your older posts about food inspired me to buy more local, organic, fresh ingredients. Also to include more vegetables than meat in my meals!
    This method sounds perfect for a busy lifestyle– especially if you are usually eating alone! What’s the point of pulling out all the pots and pans every night, just for yourself?
    I personally have no reason to do this (to this extent) at my point in life (no kids, yet). But I do love having my chest freezer– I freeze raw meat into portions and if I am making a time-intensive dish (such as stuffed peppers), I will make extra and freeze them raw to cook later! I try to cycle through it fast though and prefer to cook with fresh ingredients. I just feel better about the nutritional content when it’s fresh! Not sure if that’s just me though, maybe there is no difference.

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  24. I LOVE this site! Been doing it since August and it has been the best money I have ever spent and made my nights so much easier. My grocery costs have been cut in half practically. I am in Canada so I will get all my meat at Costco, for Jan Paleo menu I spent $150 on meat and my groceries from the grocery store totalled around $210. That is for 2 adults and 2 children.

    I have only done the pre-chop twice for Nov and Dec and didn’t do it Jan cause we were running around that day … but let me tell you .. it MAKES a huge difference. Cooking went so much faster in Nov and Dec by having all that stuff ready. I definitely will be doing the prep the night before for next month.

    Hubby takes the kids out on my big cook day. The kitchen is off limits to everyone and I usually will order takeout that night lol! Hubby loads my fave shows on my laptop and I catch up on them while I cook.

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  25. I’m worried that this will not be enough food, yet consume my budget for groceries and leave us eating pinto beans for 2-3 weeks out of the month. I have a 5 person family and we all eat dinner, every day. Currently, I’m using an online planner with a menu, shopping list and recipes. This program costs about $130 per week for dinners only. We need something much more cost effective. After adding in breakfasts and lunches, we are spending $500-600 per month. We can’t afford that! I need that cut in half. When I’m shopping, I don’t see a way to cut cost. I have to feed 2 adults, 2 teens and a toddler.

    If the oamm only contains 8 meals, then that’s 8 days for us. We eat daily. What do you eat on days you don’t have food!? I do not understand.

    I need 30 days worth of food. Help me understand please.

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    Michelle Reply:

    When you receive the Google spreadsheet from OAMM you double it to to include how many people are eating for the month. You need to make a copy and change the number of people eating in the yellow box. I am a family of 4, so I punch in 8 and that makes 4 dishes of each recipe, so enough to last the whole month. The most I have ever spent is $200 a month for the meat at Costco and around $200 and under for the remaining produce and pantry items.

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  26. There are a lot of comments here and I only read the first ten… which means my comment may be redundant. Regardless, you can make your own coconut milk/cream/butter very easily at home. We buy a 50# sack of organic coconut on Amazon and then do it ourselves with a good blender or food processor. If you have a Vitamix, it’s done in five minutes… our Kitchenaid does the milk in about ten. http://www.anorganicwife.com/2012/12/how-to-make-coconut-milk.html

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    Jenna Reply:

    Great tip! Thanks so much.

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  27. I tried this this weekend! Wow it was quite the undertaking. I laughed out loud at your toddler trashing the house. I agree that this can’t be done while watching a little one.

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  28. Jenna, did you find your freezer buddy? I’ve been wanting to try this, but kinda scared of the collateral damage you documented :) I’m close by so let me know once you’re up and running again. It takes a village!

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    Jenna Reply:

    I never did, but I’m so happy you spoke up!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Ooops, got too excited and hit enter before I was done :)

    Right now I still have SO MANY freezer meals in my fridge. I only feed my husband on the weekends, and I’m dieting so I try to eat little more than fruits and vegetables, so we’re making our way through them really slowly. I think by the time we make it to October I’ll be ready for another round though. I can’t decide if I want to try new things, or just make the things we’ve already tried that I know we like. Either way I’ve saved your email address, and I’ll send you an email to see if you’re interested in partnering up with me in the future!

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  29. We just did OAMM last weekend. It was fun, we shopped, chopped and cooked on 3 separate days. It was such a sense of accomplishment when we were done and now I don’t have to cook again until mid June!

    It’s not only 8 dinner meals. The recipes have you divide up each meal into 2 containers so you eat each meal twice, but not in a row. We will also be using most of the “lunch” meals for dinner as well.

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  30. I have been doing this for years! I have alot of recipes from years ago I still use – the problem I have now is that two of us a gluten free and dairy free – and most of the recipes are not, and those recipes used alot of the cream of * soups :( I have been slowly adapting my fav’s – but thinking I will try the OAMM site just for the ease of it – I have to maually figure out how much of what to go get and figure out shopping lists. And I did have partners which made that easier, we also “hired” a teenager from our church for a donation to watch the kids for us (I did in home daycare so there were lots of kids around) just a thought.

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  31. Jenna what an amazing and honest review! Your pictures are gorgeous. I love the tip exchange here in the comments with your readers. Thanks for talking about us!

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  32. Lanakila says:

    I’ve been doing OAMM for about a year now. I see that several folks are turned off by the notion that they might not have enough variety for the month. Once we did a couple of months, and didn’t eat down the duplicates of everything (I cooked for twice the number of folks in the family), we had a great variety to choose from. I absolutely LOVE the labels that tell you how to get the food from the freezer to the table!

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  33. Kim walsh says:

    Love this post. I’m trying to figure out if this is something I want to try. I’m a stay at home mom of 3- 7,2 and a 4 month old….with a husband who is gone a lot. He works evenings/nights and commutes everyday. I have some questions that I’m hoping to have answered…
    Do they maximize the ingredients? Example, if they want you to buy celery but only use 2 stalks do they use the rest elsewhere or does it go bad? Are there any shakes/ veggies/fruit smoothies/drinks? I’m not a breakfast eater and would prefer something with the nutrition but a drink.
    Thank you for your time!

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    If you follow the OAMM list exactly you won’t have anything left over (it’s been a year since I did the last one but I don’t remember having any leftovers). The paleo one I did a year ago had a bunch of shakes in it.

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  34. Thanks, I wasn’t sure if I should sign up (I’man unorganized, busy working-cooking hater-love my family-need to prepare food ‘cuz no one else will- ADDHD & dyslexic mother of three); but you convinced me to give it a whirl! Have a Great February!

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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