Anyone who has been pregnant or has hung out with a pregnant woman knows that they are magnets, MAGNETS I tell you, for advice. Some of it is good, some bad, and most of it is ignored. Today though, I am doing a PSA with some of the best advice that I received during pregnancy (which I conveniently ignored) that is just plain awesome whether you have kids or not.
Get a bunch of good food in your freezer already!
I can’t count the times that people would tell me, “you should really cook some things in bulk and freeze them for when the baby comes” and I just internally rolled my eyes at them (a great skill to master). I had actually cooked a fair bit of easy freezer recipes when I was pregnant with my first, and it was great. But with my second, I really wasn’t feeling like the active ball of energy I was with my first. I actually spent the last two months of my pregnancy on sick-leave sitting around in my Forever Lazy (yes, people actually own those. A big thank you to the Acadian for hooking me up
a few Christmases ago) crocheting baby hats and watching Ellen, who is coincidentally my two-year-old’s best friend now.
Then, my beautiful Ayelle came, and although I was tired, I felt soooo much better. And I was HUNGRY! After spending much of my pregnancy feeling either nauseous or just turned off by food, I was so excited to actually enjoy eating again. Having learned some harsh lessons about bad nutrition in the past though, I thought it best to try and eat food that would actually give me some energy. Energy is a good thing to have when there are kids around. They will always have more than you and you don’t want the scales to tip too much in their favor.
By the time Ayelle was two weeks old, I was really kicking myself for not having frozen any food. Especially since all those hats I had crocheted during those weeks I could have been stocking up the freezer were too small already. I tried to console myself with the fact that she kindly waited until after she was born to let her head get so big.
After consulting Uncle Google and sifting through tips for cooking in bulk and freezing (for people who don’t eat wheat, grains, gluten, dairy, soy, bla bla bla – yeah, yeah, I’m one of those paleo people) I discovered that this was actually a “thing” called freezer cooking. So much easier to find stuff when you’re searching with the right words, isn’t it? After typing in those two little words, the answer to all my prayers came up: Once A Month Meals (cue the heavenly light and choir effects).
As I poked around the website, I got really excited. Yes – about cooking and freezing stuff! I had thought about making a few meals, but to be set for a whole month? GENIUS!!! The premise of Once a Month Meals is this:
- Once a Month Meals puts together a variety of menus each month. We’re talking full menus with choices like whole foods or low calorie, dairy-free, vegetarian, traditional cooking and more. And yes, there is even an option for my beloved paleo.
- Menus contain a whole list of recipes that fit the criteria you’ve selected complete with breakfast, lunch and dinners
- Now this is super smart: the recipes included each month are chosen according to what is traditionally readily available and on sale during that time of year.
- Once you pick a menu and type in how many people you’re feeding, the site spits out all of this for you:
- A grocery list of all the ingredients and quantities required
- A prep list for the night before your cooking extravaganza so that you can chop all your veggies and bake a few things ahead of time
- A step-by-step game plan for your big day, so you can cook everything in the most logical order possible
- All of the recipes with complete instructions on how to prepare and divvy them up for freezing
- They even have labels that you can print out to stick on your freezer bags to keep everything nicely organized
- There’s also a thaw sheet to tell you how to thaw and cook all your meals later
There are a selection of older menus that are available for free, but when you sign up for a membership, you have access to everything on the site. I don’t think I’ve ever been so quick to want to sign up for anything! And was it money well spent? Damn right!
So a week after signing up, stocking up on a LOT of groceries and reading through a lot of helpful info from the Once A Month Meals site and their awesome newsletter for newbies, I was ready for my first big cooking day! While the Acadian entertained the kids, I cooked away in the kitchen all day and into the evening. I had my moments where I felt like it was all a little crazy. But the next day, when I could glance at my freezer with fresh eyes, I was really excited: there really was A LOT of food in there!
Fast forward a few months, many delicious meals and a chest freezer purchase later and I am now in the middle of planning my third big Once A Month Meals cooking day. Why am I a total convert?
8 reasons I love Once A Month Meals’ easy freezer recipes:
I don’t mind cooking, but by late-afternoon, things are a bit crazy at my house and it tends to take me forever to get anything done in the kitchen with a toddler and baby who need my attention. So the time I save on a day-to-day basis means I have more to spend with my family doing fun stuff. And on that one big day where I actually cook, everything is neatly organized making me super efficient in the kitchen so that I can get huge amounts of food ready in record time.
Cut down on dishes
Since I don’t dirty a bunch of dishes cooking on a day-to-day basis, it means there are only a few plates, some cutlery and maybe a pot or frying pan to throw into the dishwasher.
No wasted food
I’m guilty of buying produce that I swear I’m going to use later on in the week only to forget about it or not have time to prepare it. And it breaks my heart having food go to waste. Cooking once a month means I buy what I need and cook it up right then and there.
The fact that I don’t waste food adds up to big savings, but I also buy things in bulk at a better price, am able to shop sales more efficiently and tend not to buy duplicate items because I take careful inventory of what I already have to avoid buying things I don’t need when go on that big shopping trip. Another big money saver: we don’t need to order emergency take-out!
No frantic cooking, very little dishes, no wasted food or money = happy times that leave me feeling a lot more relaxed.
I actually get pretty psyched up for my big cooking days, and they can be a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work, but since I’m so organized with all the Once A Month Meal tools, things go pretty smoothly. I put on some comfy clothes and slippers, listen to some tunes and my house starts to smell nice and I get excited as my freezer fills up with good food. There is no other time in the month where I get so much uninterrupted time in the kitchen (or anywhere else really!) to concentrate on the task at hand.
Eating well = feeling well
It’s much easier to make a commitment to eating good food when it’s ready to go in your freezer. I make sure to choose recipes that I know will give me a lot of energy, so it’s like setting myself and my family up to feel good for the whole month to come.
When I cook everyday, it’s not the most exciting stuff. We would literally have crock pot chicken with potatoes and carrots 3 times a week because I could just stuff it in there and forget it. Now that I do Once A Month Meals, we have more variety, try new things and just enjoy our meals that much more. And we enjoy crock pot chicken a little more when we do have it now because it comes up on the menu a lot less often!
In my next post, I’ll tell you all about how I prepare for my big cooking day, from choosing the menu, scoring deals on groceries and working through my list of food to prep the night before. And I would love to know if you have tried freezer cooking before. Share your experience with me in the comments!
Ready to cook? Check out my easy freezer recipes:
Because I absolutely love Once A Month Meals, I’m very excited to be working with them as an affiliate. They have graciously given me one month’s free membership as a benefit, a service that I had already been paying for and enjoying.
This post may contain affiliate links.
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