On January 7, 2014 by Kim
Which freezer meal plan should I choose? Click the infographic below to find the one that works best for you!
One of the most frequent questions we get from new members is, “Which of your freezer meal plans should I cook first?” This infographic and post give you a breakdown of how we choose recipes for our different menus, so that you can make an informed choice as you meal plan. We have over 600 featured menus curated by our Once a Month Meals staff!
As you read through these, remember that we are all at a different point along the road in our journey to health. Choose what works for you, and don’t feel guilty for not doing more or smug for doing more than others. The Once a Month Meals Community is here to encourage you and provide you the resources you need get a healthy dinner on the table, whatever that means for you.
The Traditional Menu is exactly what it sounds like. It is the original Once a Month Meals menu, where it all started with a typical family trying to save time and money by cooking at home more, eating out less, and improving family life with more meals together around the table. It may not stand out among some of the stricter diet menus we offer, but don’t minimize the value of making one simple change to cook at home and to eat together. These meals are also lower in sodium and preservatives than you will find in the box kits at the grocery store, in the freezer aisle, or in the drive thru. The meals chosen are easy to prepare, family friendly, and include everyday ingredients. Read more about the Traditional freezer meal plans.
For those of you looking to eat foods that your grandmother would recognize as food (a la Michael Pollan), this menu is for you. You may spend a little extra time cooking since we recommend that you cook some ingredients from scratch (baked goods, stocks, sauces, spice mixes, etc.), but we know you will appreciate being able to pronounce every ingredient. On this menu we like to mix family favorites (sometimes adapted with whole grains or natural sweeteners) with a few more adventurous dishes that highlight seasonal produce or exotic spices. Read more about the Real/Whole Food freezer meal plans.
This menu is tailored to the average individual or family who has to remove gluten and/or dairy from their diet. You will see some special gluten-free baking ingredients and dairy substitutes, but other than that, you should have a simple grocery list. The bulk of the menu is comprised of naturally GFDF ingredients such as meats, eggs, rice, quinoa, and produce. Read more about the Gluten Free Dairy Free freezer meal plans.
If you are unfamiliar with this “caveman” or “primal” diet, it is part Real Food, part Gluten Free Dairy Free, but then it goes a step further. Paleo features “hunter-gatherer” ingredients such as meat, eggs, seasonal produce, nuts, and natural sweeteners. What you won’t see on the paleo menu: grains, soy, dairy, legumes, sugar, or processed foods. There are varying degrees of strictness among those who have a paleo lifestyle. Our monthly menus follow the basic rules, but we have several menus that adhere to the rules for the Whole30 (see Whole30 menus HERE). Read more about the Paleo freezer meal plans.
You may be reading through all of these “diets” (really most of the menus above are more of a lifestyle change than a diet) and wondering, what about counting calories? Well this is the menu that reduces fat, counts calories, and tallies points (Weight Watchers). The diet menu was the first specialty menu offered at Once a Month Meals for those who loved our Traditional freezer cooking offerings, but wanted to lighten up their meals in the conventional sense. Whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and vegetables are featured. Read more about the Diet freezer meal plans.
You guessed it – no meat to be found on this menu! Instead you will see a variety of grains, beans, and seasonal produce, with the occasional meat substitute. There are usually a few vegan recipes on each menu, but if you are looking for a completely vegan menu, see our mini menus HERE. Read more about the Vegetarian freezer meal plans.
You may think that freezer cooking will never work for you because you (or someone in your household) is allergic to _______ or because you are sticking to special diet _______ to heal your body. First off, we applaud you for taking your health into your own hands! But please, don’t think that freezer cooking isn’t for you. It is more for you than for anyone!
We understand that you can’t just grab a pizza, buy convenience items, or even eat with friends sometimes due to intolerance, allergy, or a need for healing. All the more reason for you to be organized and make sure that you don’t burn out on cooking at home. All the more reason for you to put in the time on a cooking day so that you can have variety and enjoy food – even to enjoy eating with others again!
The Allergen menu rotates through different specialty diets each month to try to cover all the bases and we are always adding new recipes to our system and tagging older ones that match the criteria for these diets. Read more about the Allergen freezer meal plans.
Our Community is full of a wide variety of cooks, but there are still a lot of you out there (and on this side of the screen) who have kids in your life. And we all know that sometimes it is nice to just cook something we know they will like. These menus range from purees, to finger foods, to lunch box meals. For those who have committed to cooking homemade baby food or keeping your kiddos out of the cafeteria line this year, please explore the variety found in our archives by searching with our “kid-friendly” tag. Read more about the Baby/Toddler freezer meal plans.
Finally we come to mini menus – the shortened version of our full length menus that cover a wide range of diets (there are minis for each of the diets listed above plus many other special event and seasonal themes).
Mini’s are perfect for the cook who is new to freezer cooking, short on time, short on space, or just wanting to stock the fridge for a special occasion or season. For example:
- Stock up on breakfast items (Paleo, Traditional, Diet)
- Stock up on seasonal produce or meat sales (Healthy Harvest, Pumpkin, Apple, Ground Beef)
- Special occasions (Date Night, Holiday, Cookie Exchange)
- Seasonal meals (Back to School, Grilling, Camping, Lent)
- Side dishes to accompany your favorite freezer meals (Summer, Winter)
- Love to eat at ethnic restaurants? Recreate the experience at home with our Passport to Eating Mini Menu Series.
What if I’m still not sure? Or what if I want to make my own meal plan?
That’s ok!!! You can create your own freezer meal plan!
Each of the 600+ featured menus that we have curated is fully customizable. If there is a recipe on a menu that just doesn’t fit your tastes or your needs, switch out for one that does. We have over 5000 freezer friendly recipes to choose from!
Want to start from scratch and build your own meal plan? You can use My Freezer Meal Plan (always found at the top of the Menu page). This is a blank menu template with 15 recipe slots, so you can hand pick each meal to meet your needs.