Budgeting for Your Once A Month Cooking Day

How much will a month of once a month cooking cost?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Once a Month Meals. Many people are sold on the idea of preparing a month’s worth of meals and are excited about the time they know they will save throughout the month, but the cost can be a deterrent. Earlier in the getting started series we gave some tips on saving money on your once a month cooking costs, but how do you start budgeting for freezer cooking?

Tricia shared the details of one of her monthly cooking experiences in which she and a friend prepared 60 meals for a grand total of $171.90, giving credit to some savvy shopping tips like shopping sales and purchasing manager’s specials. Another month she and two friends prepared meals for three families of four (or 12 people) for just $218.11–averaging to $72.70 for each family. Christina reported her recent OAMM experience cost her $191.57 for a month’s worth of meals for her family of five.

I can’t give you an exact number as it’s going to vary a depending on the menu you choose, the region you live in, how you shop, and how big your family is. BUT most of our reports from test cooks, readers, and Facebook fans are sharing that shopping for a monthly menu costs them between $150-300. That averages out to be around $5 (or less!) per entree. I know I can’t even feed my family on the fast food dollar menu for that price. So for healthy, homecooked meals, PLUS the already-prepared convenience, I consider it a great deal.

Here are some estimates of what you might spend on some of our popular freezer cooking menus:

  • Traditional $175-225
  • Paleo- $300-350
  • GFDF- $250-300
  • Diet- $250-300
  • Vegetarian- $200-250
  • Whole Foods- $250-300
  • Allergen- $250-325

Here are some ideas for getting started on a tight budget:

We know that the first big shopping trip for OAMC can be a little overwhelming, but there are lots of ways to make it work. The key is to plan ahead for the purchase.

Start Small – Choose several of the months recipes to cook. Perhaps basing the choice on the meat sales at your local grocer or even choosing recipes that are meatless. This will help you to have back up meals in the freezer so you are not tempted to eat out or stop at the grocery for unnecessary items.

Half Month – Doing a half month’s worth of recipes will be a little more than half the estimated prices ($75-150). This doesn’t require as much up front money and will allow you to save up a bit for the next month when you can do a whole menu.

Spread It Out – You can print your grocery list on the first of the month when new menus come out and spend a little bit of your grocery budget each week when the prices are the lowest. Purchase any remaining items or items that couldn’t be frozen just before your cooking. Another idea is to create a sinking fund. Take a percentage out of your grocery budge each week (it could just be $5-$10) and put it in an envelope until you have enough for a freezer cooking day.

Dive In – If you don’t shop the sales the whole month but rather just go shop and then cook all at once, you can use the current month’s menu and reap the benefits immediately.

If you’ve recently prepared a OAMM menu, let us know in the comment section how it went for you, including dollar approximations. Your feedback and insight continually helps make the site better.

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