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One of the most effective ways to manage your time is to streamline as many tasks as possible. It is even better when you can take short cuts or outsource some of the tasks. I read a book about time management that recommended hiring out as many routine tasks as possible. That just isn’t really realistic for a lot of families. Homeschool families carry the financial burden of curriculum and co-ops. That doesn’t really leave a lot of room in the budget for a personal chef.
A personal chef is definitely not in my budget, so I signed up for an online meal planning service.
Once A Month Meals
Once A Month Meals is an online service that does most of the meal planning work for you. The goal is to efficiently stock your freezer with home cooked meals. A few clicks of my mouse provided a shopping list, prep instructions, cooking directions, freezer guidance, and even thawing and reheating instructions. That all adds up to less work for me…which means time saved.
Getting healthy meals on the table was difficult after teaching all day. We started the week strong, but by Wednesday I was finding it difficult to find the time to be in the kitchen for an hour or more. Even with steady use of my Crockpot and Instant Pot, I was still spending an hour every night dicing vegetables or scrubbing pans.
I decided to give Once A Month Meals a chance to see if it could help. We deal with a gluten allergy and somewhat picky kids, so I was skeptical. Would it really save me time? How would the recipes taste? Would we really want to eat them or would they live in my freezer forever? What would we think of these freezer meals?
Guys, I was blown away by the level of organization in Once A Month Meals.
In less than an hour I had a custom meal plan, full of foods my family actually wanted to eat! A bit of shopping, prep work, a full day of cooking and my freezer was stocked.
How Once A Month Meals Works
The first step is to log in at OnceAMonthMeals.com and select your meals.
There are tons of menus already prepared, but it is easy to swap recipes to create a custom meal plan. You can even select recipes that are paleo, gluten free, dairy free, real food, or vegetarian. There are freezer Crockpot and Instant Pot recipes too. I selected a paleo meal plan that sounded pretty good and swapped out a breakfast, lunch, and few dinners to things that used ingredients I had on hand.
Print the shopping list and check off anything you already have in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.
The included shopping list includes everything – meat, veggies, spices, and even freezer supplies. Go to the store and shop. I highly recommend using a grocery shopping service if that is available. That is one more way to save time. I had Google Express bring the pantry items and bought the perishables at my favorite grocery store.
Follow your prep sheet.
To speed the prep work up, I took short cuts wherever reasonable. For example, I bought garlic already minced. There was no way I was going to chop up 60 cloves of garlic! I also used my Vitamix to wet chop celery, carrots, and onions. Ideally, this is done the day before, but I was out of room in my fridge so I just did it right before cooking.
Now comes the cooking part.
I’m not going to lie. This takes quite a while. I spent 9 hours in the kitchen, but that includes times I had to stop to help with a school assignment and break up arguments. Once A Month Meals provides an instruction sheet that tells you exactly what to do and when to do it, step by step. It was so immensely helpful to not need to think about it. I just followed the directions and kept moving right along. A lot of the cooking tasks don’t require a ton of careful attention so it is the perfect time to binge watch Netflix.
Freeze the meals in the way that makes the most sense for your family.
I froze our dinner options in pans for four people, but stored the lunch options as single servings. Once A Month Meals provides labels to print and attach to the freezer containers. No guessing what is wrapped up in foil! I did not have any label stickers so I printed the labels (one for each container) on regular copy paper and affixed them with moving tape. The labels even include nutrition facts.
Now you have a freezer full of healthy meals!
At the end of my freezer cooking day, I had:
- 2 paleo apple spice cakes
- 6 omelet in a cups
- 2 loaves of paleo pumpkin bread (perfect for tea with poetry!)
- 1 egg roll in a bowl (this should have been 2, but my family loved it and ate it all in one night)
- 24 meatloaf cupcakes
- 1 orange chicken
- 2 shepherd’s pies
- 2 Panera copy cat autumn squash soups ready for the Instant Pot
- 3 Keto ground beef stir fry
- 2 oven roasted indian spice chickens
- 6 stuffed sweet potatoes
- 2 paleo beef lettuce wraps (SO GOOD!)
- 2 dinners worth of carnitas
- 5 tom kha gai
- 40 paleo pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
It was totally worth it! Having a freezer stocked with healthy meals has saved me so much time. Now, I don’t have to worry about fitting in time to cook dinner, it is already done. I take a dish out of the freezer every morning and plan for a quick side dish – oven baked potatoes, Instant Pot rice, microwave steamed veggies, or a quick salad.
I plan to spend one day a month making freezer meals with Once A Month Meals. It is perfect for busy moms!
Share this article with someone who needs help finding time to cook!
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