Once a Month Cooking (Oamc)/freezer meals-Anyone Done This?

Updated on April 24, 2012
F.H. asks from Gilbert, AZ
8 answers

We just had a large freezer for the garage delivered today. So now I'm going to be making some freezer meals that will be ready to go so I don't have to cook as often. I don't cook every day as it is. I generally cook Mon-Wed, leftovers from those days on Thurs and Friday is pizza and salad for famly movie night (or on the weekends we don't have the kids, its dinner out for date night). We just wing it on weekends depending on what is going on.

So if you have tried to cook once a month for a months worth of food, how did it go? Do you have recipes you can share with me? Any tips, cookbooks, blogs or websites?

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So What Happened?

ooooo, I didn't know you could freeze fruit and veggies, I mean, I just never have thought of it so I will do that too. I'll have to search online for how long everything will last in the freezer.

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answers from San Antonio on

I'll update my answer when I have a chance to really sit down and find the websites and recipes I used.

I used to do once a month cooking. It was great! Most of the meals I did didn't require thawing because the ones that did, I'd forget to pull them out and thaw them first. It was awesome though being able to come home from work (this was over a decade ago when I had a job) and within 45 minutes I had a hot home cooked meal on the table for my daughter and I.

Now that I think about it, I really need to start doing that again.

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answers from Bloomington on

I do this, and it's great. I spend a whole day in the kitchen about every 6 weeks, and make as many meals as I can.

The more often you do it, the more efficient you become at it....and less wasteful. You will want to buy freezer sized bags and aluminum pans. I get the loaf sized pans, because we are a family of four that eat as much as 2 1/2 adults....so smaller portions mean less waste and leftovers--that don't get eaten.

In the winter months (when I don't mind the oven being on during the evenings), I prepare lasagna, meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, and porcupine meatballs to freeze. I make all of these at one time.

* I cook my chicken in the crockpot while I work on the rest. I freeze my chicken stock in baggies and make the red enchilada sauce from it.
*I dice and cook all the onions for all the recipes at one time.
*I pull my hubby into the kitchen to help me prep, mix, and portion the food.
*I label everything with the date and sometimes the oven temp (he now knows the temps).

*I always cook up (brown) any uncooked hamburger, and sausage , and freeze it into dinner sized portions to add to spaghetti sauce, pizza, tacos, etc.

*You can also cook up the chicken, and shred it. This is great in chicken and rice (let me know if you want the recipe), tacos, salads, etc.

We also buy family sized meats (also looking at going to a butcher soon), and portioning the meats into dinner portions.

We also add marinades to the meats (have a great one for pork chops), and freeze them. We use these for the grill.

When you go to the farmer's market, you can buy all kinds of veggies, and freeze them. (Sometimes you need to blanch them.)

*You can always freeze uncooked meat, cook it, and then freeze it again.
*You should never freeze uncooked meat, and then freeze it again.

Remember to save your left overs and freeze them. For instance, we had ham, roasted rosemary potatoes, and asparagus at Easter. After dinner, I cubed all the ham and asparagus (potatoes were already cubed), and baggied them off into 3 decent sized bags. Last week, I thawed the bag, and mixed in 4 eggs, and some cheese. I put the mixture into a deep pie shell (baked for a few minutes beforehand), and had one of the best meals we've had in a long time....almost better than the Easter meal. We called it Easter Pie. :)

Let me know if you want any specific recipes. :)

Added: I also make a monthly calendar that I space out the different kinds of meats, so we don't eat a lot of one type over the other. Having one night for a free for all, or left overs is nice. And, it allows us to go out for a dinner if we need to. We also schedule a night out on Friday nights...gives us something to look forward to.

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answers from San Antonio on

I don't do once a month cooking, but I do have a big freezer and love to keep the following on hand in there:
- turkeys when they're on sale for 20 cents a lb at Thanksgiving time
- turkey stock from my boiled turkey bones/skin after I cook them in the oven
- any meat on sale
- costco meats/foods on sale like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, any of that huge family size frozen stuff

Plus, the biggest way I try to "cook once a month" is to cook one whole turkey let's say, then eat half of that in one week, the other half I'll freeze into portioned bags. One night we may want tacos. I can pull out a bag of frozen already cooked turkey, toss it in a pan with salsa and/or seasonings, and it takes just a few minutes for a taco dinner. I did exactly this last week, except I pulled out the meat and made enchiladas and taquitos.

Another thing I've done is freeeze my fresh veggies, saving me cutting time, and allowing me to stock up when veggies are cheap. I really only do this with onion, bell pepper, and jalepenos. Mom will do it with tomatoes, tossing the frozen tomatoes into a pot of soup. For me, it's so easy to sprinkle in some already chopped jalepeno (that I froze) into a pan with my taco meat. My grandma will freeze her soup into lunch portions since she's 90 and lives alone.

My problem with freezer meals is freezer burn. Yuck.

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answers from Austin on

I don't necessarily cook once a month, but do try to cook "in bulk" often. We are only a family of 3 (but a 16 year old boy that can eat as much as 3 adults!) so it's pretty easy to do. What I think is a great investment to go along with your new freezer is a vacuum sealer. I have a Food Saver that I got at Costco for about $130, and it has MORE than paid for itself over the years. You can keep things in the freezer much longer when they're vacuum sealed and no freezer burn. I use it for raw meats, cooked foods, soup, sauces, casseroles, whatever! You can even boil pre-cooked foods in the bag (still sealed) and foods don't dry out when reheating. Can you tell I love my vacuum sealer?!

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answers from Washington DC on

I totally agree on the food saver...the best investment we've ever made. Your food will last so much longer in the freezer without any freezer burn :)

I have done up to two months worth of meals in a weekend. I have 4 large crock pots and I use the McCormicks seasoning packets to keep it simple. Keep in mind these meals are not gourmet meals but the quick fixes in a time crunch. There my "semi-homemade" meals..lol. Our family can stretch meals pretty far since our kids are only 5 and almost 2.

I will suggest now that you have a large freezer start stocking up on your meats when they go on sale. I only purchase meats several times a year. I am known to go buy 50-100 packs of perdue chicken breasts when they go on BOGO free sale at the local market. In addition to freezing meats I also can them. It is very easy to do and saves a ton of time when rushing to get dinner on the table. The chicken actually cooks in the canning process so it's simply a matter of opening the jar, seasoning the chicken and warming it up. Dinner is done in 15 minutes or less.

Back to the point of the post :)

The night before my cooking marathon hubby and I wash and prep all the veggies needed for our recipes with the exception of the potatoes. Then I put a large pork roast with gingerale in one of the crock pots. It may sound weird but the gingerale makes the meat so tender and juicy. I slow cook the pork all night. The first thing I do in the morning is shred the pork, whip up some bbq sauce or if you have a fav brand you like than use that. One crock of pork makes a TON of homemade pulled pork bbq. Then I divide it out into multiple meals using my food saver bags. I can usually get 8-10 meals out of one large pork roast.

Once that is done and the crock is cleaned I refill it with a large pot roast with potatoes, green beans, carrots and onion. That will slow cook for 8 hours and again the meat is so tender and juicy. You can either divide the meat and veggies for individual "roast" meals or cut the roast into cubes and viola you have a wonderful homemade beef/veggie soup to bag and seal. 5-7 meals out of one crock.

Then I'll make the McCormicks original chicken recipe in another crock pot. (I double the recipe using 2 packets.) This is an all in one dish meal with the chicken, potatoes, green beans, carrots, onion, and any other veggie you'd like. 4-6 meals out of one crock.

The third crock is usually the McCormicks "country chicken" recipe doubled. I love the fact that the chicken and gravy are packed and sealed just waiting reheating. Easy to boil in the bag and then dump over rice or mashed potatoes. 4-6 meals.

The final crock is used to make a veggie mix of potatoes, carrots, green beans, onion, celery, etc. I season these with a packet of hidden valley ranch and slow cook the veggies all day...juicy and tender veggies. 8-10 side dishes done ;D

Once I have all four crocks going then I start on the stove/oven work. We prefer ground turkey over ground beef. I buy 1 lb logs of jenny O ground turkey for $1.99 each at walmart. Again I stock up on these and usually have at least 20 rolls in the freezer.

I start by mixing up 4 lbs of turkey with 4 McCormick's Swedish meatball packs. I do NOT fry the meatballs as directed. Instead I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper and cook all the meatballs at once in my oven on 350 for about 20 minutes. I insert our digital thermometer into one of the meatballs and it beeps at me when done. While the meatballs are cooking I prepare the sauce on the stove. After the meatballs are done I divide them into the food saver bags and then pour the sauce into the bags. This makes 8 meals for us easily. Just boil the bags to reheat and serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes add a veggie and viola dinner in minutes :)

Next I mix up Italian meatballs following same process. If I have homemade sauce on hand I'll use it if not I pour store brought sauce over the meatballs and seal them. Once again just boil the bag and serve over pasta with a salad or veggies for a simple supper. 8 more meals done in a matter of minutes :)

Next I brown up a ton of ground turkey with onions. Once browned and drained I divide into 3 batches. I take the first batch and whip up turkey taco meat. Divide and freeze to make quick tacos, taco salads or enchiladas. 8 meals.

The second batch is "simple sheppard's pie". Mix ground turkey, carrots, green beans, peas, corn and any other veggies you like, and beef gravy. I divide this into 6 small casserole dishes and seal in the food saver bag. Simply grab it from the freezer, remove the bag, pop it in the oven on 350 until warmed through, gravy will be bubbling. Top with mashed potatoes and put back in the oven for 15 minutes. I have used instant potatoes for this in a pinch and you can't tell the difference. I've also frozen it with the potatoes on top (I have a recipe for make ahead and freeze potatoes, if you're interested.) Delicious any way you do it :)

The third batch is for lasagna. I bake a huge tray of lasagna and then divide it into smaller casseroles to freeze. Add a salad and viola 6 more meals done :) I alternate lasagna with spinach stuffed shells each time I do this to give a variety in the quick meals.

I also make a huge tray of mac and cheese then divide into side dish servings and freeze. One tray can go along way as a side dish :)

I have hubby slice up beef for fajitas. I cook up the beef, peppers, onion, etc. Then divide and freeze for quick fajitas. I do the same with chicken. Another 4-6 meals done. All you have to do is warm and serve :)

Also check out the Lawry's marinades. They have a Hawaiian marinade that will knock your socks off. Use it to stir fry pork or chicken with green, red, and yellow peppers, broccoli, pineapples, and any other veggies you like stir fried. Divide and freeze. Simply boil bag and serve over rice or egg noodles....yummo!

I also make a huge batch of chili to divide and freeze. Chili always tastes better the next day :) I serve over rice or mashed potatoes with a dab of sour cream and cheddar cheese....delicious. We get 8-10 meals out of one big batch.

Once you get started you'll find a zillion things you can make ahead and freeze. For example, I freeze left over turkey and gravy for a quick boil in bag meal to serve hot turkey sandwiches or over mashed potatoes. Whatever you're in the mood for. If I've made a roast I cube the leftovers and make soup or stew to freeze. When I make a one pound meatloaf or in our case turkeyloaf my family only eats half in that meal. I freeze the other half to be used for a quick meal later in the month. You will find you are saving a ton of money because #1 you are not wasting food and #2 you'll have quick meals in place to avoid having to buy fast food out when you're too tired to cook.

When freezing your bags make sure you lay them flat until frozen. Once frozen you can stand them up on end to save space in the freezer.

Give it a try and let me know if you need any help :)
Peace and Blessings,
T. B.

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answers from New York on

I don't specifically "cook-once-a-month", but I do pre-marinade meats and store them in the freezer. I also make extras of things and freeze those (i.e. I made a plate and a half of shells yesterday - me and the kiddies made piggies of ourselves and ate the plate, I put the 1/2 plate of about 12 UNcooked shells in the freezer). I pull those smaller quantities out for sides when needed or full meals depending on the leftovers.

I also store lots of pre-made and measured broth, bags of cut/diced tomatoes with basil for easy sphagetti sauce making, pre-made uncooked homemade pies, quick breads, etc. Anything to take some prep work out of the equation.

Have fun.
Good Luck.

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answers from Houston on

I did it for a couple of months, what put me off was the whole day I had to spend in the kitchen. Otherwise it was great! I used to use a book from sams, once-a-month-cooking, I believe they also have a website. The book has a red and white check cover

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answers from Lakeland on

I don't do once a month. I try to make extra stuff during the week and put it in the freezer. I think it would be too overwhelming to cook all day.

Our menu varies but I mostly make stuff we eat all the time. I end up with lot of pastas, chicken and casserole’s. I also use my food saver to get the air out and prevent freezer burn.

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