Swap Ready

Get Started: Five Easy Steps and Resources for Starting Freezer Cooking

If you are new around these parts here are some things that you need to know to help you along the way. This is also a comprehensive list of all the great posts we have highlighted for our Get Started series. You can spend HOURS alone reading through all of these resources. In order to help you Get Started quickly here are the basic steps you need to take first. Following that you will find further information and reading should you decide you need more information.


Get Started Basic Steps

  1.  Pick which Menu BEST suits you. Here are links to explain a little more about each one.  We also have this fun infographic to help!
  2. Pick Your Membershipbasicvspro
    • Basic Membership- With membership, you get access to serving size customizable recipe cards, freezer directions, organized grocery lists, step-by-step cooking day instructions, and printable labels for eight different menu types.
    • Pro Membership- With a Pro membership, you get access to all of the above as well as the ability to mix and match recipes between menus with Swappable! Do you eat Paleo and your spouse is Vegetarian? No problem- you can create a menu that is half Paleo/half Vegetarian. Find a giant sale on boneless chicken? Swap out all of the beef recipes on this month’s menu for chicken. You also have the ability to save up to three menus for future access.
  3. Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 11.32.41 AMPrint Your Documents
    • Grocery List
    • Recipe Cards
    • Thaw Sheet
    • Cooking Day Instructions
    • Prep Instructions
    • Labels
  4. Shop
  5. Cook

Time Commitment

Each type of menu and each monthly menu varies in the time it takes to do from start to finish. In addition, your efficiency and quickness in preparation, cooking and clean up is also variable. However, we usually estimate the following as average times needed.

  • Shopping – 2-3 hours in total
  • Night Before Preparation (Chopping, etc) – 1-2 hours
  • Cooking the Day of – 6-12 hours


The cost is also variable. Factors for this menu include region of the country, access to sale goods, produce crops, and use of coupons. It also varies by size of family. For a family of 4 for *most* of our menus you can expect to pay somewhere between $150-$300 for all the ingredients for all of the meals. It usually averages between$2.50-$6.00 an entree for 4 servings.

Additional Resources

We have outlined a TON of resources for you this month. As I mentioned earlier it can take you hours to look through everything. We highly recommend any and all of these posts but thought we would outline all of them throughout the series here. Hopefully you will find one or more of them useful to you.

Testimonies – How OAMM contributing writers do oamc cooking

General Resources

Shopping/Budgeting Resources

Food Preparation and Storage Resources

Adjusting to Space Issues






66 Responses to “Get Started: Five Easy Steps and Resources for Starting Freezer Cooking”

  1. Tricia says:

    Thanks for putting all of this info in one post! What a great resource!

  2. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for putting this all together. I have used tons of recipes and tips from your site but haven’t yet done a big cooking day. I’m totally motivated and much more confident that I can actually pull it off now that I’ve seen all of these getting started posts – and even better now that I can go back here and find links to everything. I appreciate all of the effort that went in to pulling this all together!!

  3. Julie says:

    So, are you supposed to cook the November menu at the end of November and eat it in December, etc.?

  4. Rachelle Johnston says:

    Hi, I have read through the new to this section and still have a couple of questions. I noticed on the January menu, there are only 8 recipes listed. I figure you create enough to have each of those items each week for the entire month? Is this correct? Also, do you or your family get tired of the same thing each week? I am very excited about finding this page and this method of cook and want to thank you for sharing it with us all!

    Rachelle ~

    • Kelly says:

      Each menu (with the exception of the mini menus) will yield you approximately 6-10 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 16 dinners. Throughout the month you will be eating each entree 2 times. It’s not enough to feed you for EVERY meal during the month, but it should be enough to get you most of the way. We figure you will eat out, eat with friends, or cook a fresh meal on occasion. If you are willing to eat the same meals up to 4 times each month (lunches and dinners) you can double the number of people that you are cooking for and you will get the quantities needed for each. You would do this on the yellow box on the recipe cards. Hope that helps!!

  5. Rachelle Johnston says:

    Thank you for the quick response! 16 meals sounds like a pretty good amount. I think if we wanted to freeze for most of the month, we could add on, as well.


  6. [...] (source) I should probably admit that I don’t actually cook/prep meals every month. But I always plan my month of meals and shop once a month. Even if I’m tired or too busy, I still always know what [...]

  7. Monica says:

    I’m wondering how best to deal with produce. Is it best to just buy all the produce in the last week before my big cook day?

  8. Jody says:

    When I’m using the grocery list, are OZ for liquid products, like milk, listed in fluid ounces?

  9. I love this idea. Is there one posted for January or February 2012 yet?

  10. Emily says:

    I’m looking at the March menu and wondering if you freeze everything. Can the cuban sandwiches be frozen and be okay later on? I’d think they would be kind of soggy.

  11. Emily says:

    Sorry, that was for the Diet March menu.

  12. Cari says:

    WOW I just found your site. I am SO thankful for it. It is wonderful and the hard work you all do is amazing!!!! You do all the hard work now all I have to do is find the time to cook, with 2 toddlers its tough, but everyone knows that. Thank you so much for all of the work yall put into this each month. it is a blessing!!!

  13. Carla says:

    Great site. I saw your guest post on Skinny Taste. Quick question. Some meals you cook then freeze and others you freeze after mixing ingredients together. Why is this and if doing meals on my own, how can I learn what to freeze before cooking or after?

    Thanks :)

  14. Carla says:

    Thanks for that response Tricia and I am off to read all of that info. I just thought of something else. Every morning, I have a smoothie for breakfast. The contents are always 1 cup of fruit, 1 scoop of protein poweder, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup of milk/low sugar juice and 1 tbls of chia seeds. I do have the fruit in single serving bags but now that you have enlightened me, I am thinking I can freeze the entire thing into single serving packets. Do you think it is okay to mix the powder with the liquids ahead of time? This would be such a time saver.

    • Tricia says:

      I’m not sure why you couldn’t add it before hand. I might make one or two and freeze them to do a test run before I did a giant batch but I say go for it.

      • Faith says:

        In response to Carla who asked about freezing her smoothies, when I cook meals for our family on the weekends, i also cook enough for our disabled friend from church and she likes smoothies. I make one large smoothie every week for her, we freeze it in single serving cups, and they defrost just fine. (I’m not sure how long she waits to drink it after she gets it out of the freezer though.) In our house, they never stick around long enough to freeze. :)

        P.S. Tricia- I am so glad I found your site. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m a mom of a teen, full time graduate student, plus working one day per week, and involved in our church and Girl Scouts, so this is a big help.

  15. Devildog says:

    Is there any way to filter the shopping list for dinners only?

  16. Kat says:

    I am in AWE of all the hard work you ladies put into this! I am just so impressed. I stumbled upon this site through SkinnyTaste a few hours ago and I can’t see how I can live ANY other way! As someone who works 60 or more hours a week, this is just such a blessing, especially since I struggle with my weight and diet choices because of the lack of time and patience. This, coupled with tracking tools and running/horseback riding, I think will finally get me to a place where I can enjoy life and stop making excuses. Thank you so much.

    • Kelly says:

      Kat we’re so happy you’re here! You are a busy woman! We’re just happy to help you enjoy those moments a little more knowing you have great food at home.

  17. Kristin says:

    I am wondering if you shop to eat for the month ahead (i.e.shop september to eat the meals in October) do you just cook and shop like normal during September while shopping for October?

  18. Annie says:

    Maybe its explained here and I just missed it, but is the cooking really supposed to be done in a single day? And can I pick and choose between menus when my religious fasting (aka vegan-esk menu) occurs either for 1-2 days a week or 15-40 days ever so often?


    • Tricia says:

      For the most part, yes all in one day, but some do it in more than one day. We suggest not shopping on your cooking day. And doing your chopping the night before. And you can pick and choose but you have to do the math yourself if you are interchanging on menus. You could do one main menu and do a vegan mini menu to supplement those days.

  19. kristen says:

    I have tried to multiply the paleo recipes by 12, and the cinamon roll doc doesnt multiply, all of the others appear to

    • Tricia says:

      The cinnamon roll doc has been edited as of this afternoon – it will multiply differently because of the eggs in it so it has a special formula but please go to the cards again and put a 12 in to the current version. Sorry about this and we will put a note on this menu.

  20. Erin hatfield says:

    On your FAQ page, you said that you don’t get access to this months menus, only previous ones…. So it I sign up for a monthly membership now, I don’t get Feb?? Only jan 2013?? Is that correct?

    • Tricia says:

      Erin, you get access to any menus that come out during your membership being active and all menus previously released. If you signed up today you would have access through 2/28/13 and would therefore get access to all menus that are released in Feb.

  21. Michelle says:

    I just found your site two weeks ago when I was struggling once again to think of something to make for dinner. I love cooking and my husband and I received a deep chest freezer as a wedding gift for all the beef my parents send us from their farm. We have a relatively decent sized apartment kitchen and I have made a few recipes for the freezer but never thought it could be used as a “convienence tool” outside of frozen pizzas. All our food is usually in its raw state.

    Not anymore! This is such an inspiring website!! I love that you have so many different types of menus. I am so excited to actually make use of my freezer now versus reaching in every few weeks for a pound of ground beef or a chicken breast. I work full time and have fallen prey to the eating out during the weekdays when the days are just too tiring to cook meals. My biggest appreciation is your dedication to making it EASY for people to use. You guys have really thought through everything! I hope to try a mini plan this weekend just to get my feet wet.

    Thank you thank you!!

  22. Tracy Matthewman says:

    I would love for you to have something specific for Dads. My ex husband is always calling me and asking for what to feed our daughter….LOL.
    but I’d buy him a membership to this if I new it could help. :) Just a thought. Cheers.

    • Tricia says:

      Tracy, what types of things are you thinking? Our menus are suitable for moms or dads, it just started out being called Once A Month “Mom”. We don’t discriminate though.

  23. Jill says:

    We do not use a microwave due to growing evidence of the dangers as well as nutrient depletion of the food.

    I noticed in the getting started video that most of the heating instructions I saw were for microwaves. We are pretty adept at using our toaster oven in place of the microwave but I know there are certain things in the freezer section of the store that are strictly for microwave only.

    Are your recipes/freezing strategies compatible with non-microwave heating options?


    • Kelly says:

      Jill yes our recipes are very adaptable to oven and toaster oven cooking. The reheat times may just be a little longer, but if you are used to it then it should come very easily!

  24. Emily says:

    I am just about ready to take the plunge to OAMC, but there is one major thing holding me back. We bought a 1/4 cow in February, so although we have plenty of beef, it is all frozen. Since you can’t thaw and refreeze it, I’m guessing I couldn’t make something like burgers to freeze for later. Do you have any suggestions on how to follow one of the OAMM menus using bulk meat like this that is already frozen? This probably isn’t a huge problem, but I can’t seem to get my head around it! I was specifically looking at one of the older traditional or whole foods menus to give it a try before I jumped into membership. Thanks for such a great resource!

  25. Roxanne says:

    Do the recipes work for a family of two? I love to eat and to save time and money, but I don’t love cooking. I love the idea of once a month cooking, but I am only cooking for myself and my husband. Also, my husband travels for his job, so he is gone a lot, and we almost never know ahead of time how long he will be gone when he leaves. It is not out of the ordinary for him to be gone for up to a month or two at a time. This makes menu planning and budgeting very confusing. We are always throwing something together at the last second. Any ideas?

    • Kelly says:

      Hi Roxanne! Yes our recipes work for any number of people. When you become a member our recipe cards and grocery list are customizable to your servings. You simply enter in 2 in the yellow box and the recipes will calculate for you!

  26. [...] will want to start here if you are new to once a month meals site where you will be able to customize your [...]

  27. [...] Get Started: Five Easy Steps and Resources for Starting Freezer Cooking [...]

  28. Audrey says:

    I have done something similar before but all my frozen meals took over an hour to bake, which added to the hassle of a busy day, instead of cooking, we were all hungry and waiting for it to be done so it was easier to cook every night. How long does it take for these meals to prepare after they’ve been frozen?

    • Katie says:

      Hi Audrey! We have a variety of options for cooking. Some are slow cooker so they can cook while you are at work, some need to be baked. With our new swap feature, you can choose all lunch recipes which are fully cooked. Then, you could just reheat for dinner and not have to wait on something while you are starving! Read more about our swap feature here- http://onceamonthmeals.com/membership/join/

  29. Shelly Logemann says:

    Help please. I just signed up for the membership and went to the getting started page and it asks me to select a menu type and Paleo isn’t even listed.

    • Katie says:

      Hi Shelly, you should be able to access all of the Paleo menus here- http://onceamonthmeals.com/menus/paleo/. With your membership, you have access to all of the different menus so you don’t have to choose just one. If you continue to have trouble, feel free to email us as info at onceamonthmeals.com and we can help walk you through it!

  30. Tessa says:

    Family of 5….2 adults and 3 kids ages 4,3,1….interested in meals but I don’t need to make meals for 5 per say would 3 be good or 4

  31. Wendy says:

    I noticed some of the measurement are different than I’m used to. Is there a chart to know on some of the amounts? Or is there a secret to knowing how much some of them are?

    • Lisa says:

      Wendy – At the very bottom of each of our recipes there is a handy conversion chart to help you!

      • Wendy says:

        Do I pull up recipe cards or individual recipes? Because I’m not seeing the cart. Or am I doing something wrong?

        • Lisa says:

          Wendy – I am unclear on what you are asking. If you could email your question to info at onceamonthmeals.com we can certainly address any issues you might have.

  32. NikkiT says:

    This is my first time joining y’all and I’m super excited. I was wondering if each of these meals (breakfast lunch dinner) are stand alone balanced meals. For example, with breakfast am I supposed to add a glass of OJ or a grapefruit? With lunch should I add chips, carrots? And dinner, add rice, side of veggies? I guess this is even more specifically for the diet menus too.
    Thank you.

    • Lisa says:

      Welcome! Our menus are designed to provide the entree for each meal. Side dishes and drink choices are left to your discretion and in the case of the diet menu will then alter the nutritional information. Let us know if you have any more questions!

  33. donaji says:

    for prep day… when you cut everything how do you best keep cut stuff… is it expected to cook the same day that you prep? or should it go in fridge in containers?

    • Lisa says:

      We like to encourage a separate prep day from cooking day. Storing your prepped/chopped/etc items in a cooler or fridge until cooking day is the best way.

Leave a Reply

After hitting submit your comment will await moderation.