On March 12, 2018 by Kelly
Freezer cooking doesn’t have to take all day. Mini Menus can streamline your cooking day and make meal planning simple!
We obviously all love freezer cooking around here, but we have all had seasons of life where we simply can’t carve an entire day out of the calendar to do a big cooking day. New babies, travel, busy work schedule, schooling, prolonged illness – these all can prohibit the big once a month cooking day. Those who are new to freezer cooking are often overwhelmed by starting with a full day of cooking. But you don’t have to cook from dawn until dark to experience the benefits of freezer cooking and free up time for the most important things in life. Mini menus can make meal planning simple!
What is a Freezer Cooking Mini Menu?
It is really just a shorter version of our monthly meal plans created to maximize your convenience.
Each mini menu contains 5-6 recipes, and each is doubled, resulting in 10-12 meals for your family! Depending on how often you serve freezer meals, this will last for about two weeks or even up to four. Just like our full menus, each Mini comes with a grocery list, recipe cards, step-by-step cooking day instructions, and labels. And just like with our full menus, you can choose a menu type that fits your lifestyle.
So if it is a mini menu, is it really going to fill my freezer? You won’t have as much food as you would from a full menu, but you WIIL have enough food to gain back your time and sanity. Having 10 easy meals in the freezer is certainly a big improvement over hitting the drive thru!
Who should cook a Mini Menu?
Freezer Cooking Newbies
We recommend that everyone start with a Mini Menu. When you are just figuring out the process of freezer cooking, it can be a little overwhelming to shop and cook 15 recipes and double them all for 30 meals in just a day or two. But the Mini Menu is the perfect amount to help you see the benefits while still being able to manage the learning curve. But there are other reasons why you might choose the Mini Menu over a full menu.
Limited Kitchen or Freezer Space
An enormous farm kitchen and a huge chest freezer are not required for freezer cooking, thankfully! If you have a small apartment kitchen, haven’t invested in a big freezer, or are otherwise limited when it comes to space – the Mini Menu is for you!
Limited Time to Freeze Cook
There are times when you are extra busy. These are the times when freezer cooking is the most helpful, but you just can’t seem to get more than a few hours at a time to work on something. That is ok! Some of our Mini Menus are designed to be completed in an afternoon. Mini Menus are also easier to split up into two smaller sessions if you need to do that.
Here is another trick when you are short on time. Pick a Mini Menu and buy all of the ingredients. Cook one of the meals each night. Since the recipes are all doubled, you can eat one that night and put the second in the freezer for another time! Do this for 5 days, and you have 5 meals in the freezer! And you meal planned for a whole week on top of that!
Sometimes the up front cost of freezer cooking isn’t doable for those on a tight budget. But the Mini Menu is much more manageable! Stick with a vegetarian menu or choose your own recipes based on ingredients that you already have on hand or items that you know are on deep discount at your local stores.
Additionally, you will notice that all of our menus are seasonal. This means that we choose produce that is likely to be discounted or cheaper at your local store and we take into account sale cycles that are associated with seasonal holidays. And on the whole, meal planning saves you money because there is less waste and less eat out!
Sharing Meals or Freezing it Forward
Do you like to bring meals to those who need them? New moms, those who are ill, elderly, or shut in. Or maybe you just have a friend or neighbor who is struggling financially or emotionally. We have several Mini Menus that we have created just for this purpose! They are called “Multicourse Mini Menus” if you are searching for them later.
Special Occasions or Special Love of an Appliance
Holidays get super busy! But when you freeze your meals, appetizers, special meals, desserts, etc. ahead of time, you can actually spend time with the people you love! What about date night? Backyard cookouts? Potluck meals? Back to school? New diets or New Year’s resolutions? We love to create special Mini Menus to help at specific times when you need them!
Maybe you are a slow cooking queen? Or you have mastered all things Instant Pot? We love these time saving tools too! And we have menus devoted especially to them. There are so many ways to use Mini Menus! Read on in the next section for a sampling of our favorite Mini Menus.
More Mini Menu Resources
Focus on a specific meal of the day:
- Winter Breakfast Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Spring Brunch Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Summer Lunch Mini Menu Vol. 3 (Kids lunches for back to school!)
- Summer Salad Topper Mini Menu Vol. 1 (Grown-up lunches.)
- Summer Snack Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Summer Sides Mini Menu Vol. 2
- Fall Multicourse Mini Menu Vol. 1 (Great to bring to someone in need. Includes main dishes, sides, and desserts.)
Focus on seasonal produce, sales, and special occasions:
- Spring Ground Beef Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Spring Grilling Mini Menu Vol. 2
- Fall Apple Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Fall Pumpkin Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Spring Date Night Mini Menu Vol. 2
Use your favorite kitchen appliance:
- Winter Paleo Instant Pot Mini Menu Vol. 1 (Whole30 Compliant)
- Spring Instant Pot Mini Menu Vol. 1
- MORE Instant Pot Mini Menus!
- Winter Slow Cooker Mini Menu Vol. 3
- Fall Slow Cooker Mini Menu Vol. 1
- MORE Slow Cooker Mini Menus!
For our easiest and quickest menus, look for Dump and Go!
- Fall Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Summer Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Winter Diet Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Spring Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- MORE Dump and Go Mini Menus!
Create your Own Mini Menu
We’ve given you lots of idea for tailoring Mini Menus to your needs, but you can also pick and choose from over 5,500 recipes in our MenuBuilder database! Choose the exact number of recipes you want and the exact type you need. Or fill your freezer with family favorites!
How do I get Mini Menus from Once a Month Meals?
Simple! Get your own Once a Month Meals Membership today! With Membership you will have access to all of our full and Mini menus along with all of the accompanying documents, customized for the number of servings you need. This post is really just a glance.
We have over 150 Mini Menus available! PLUS access to MenuBuilder, which allows you to mix and match and create fully customized freezer cooking meal plans – Mini menus or full!
Learn more about how our menus work and customizing them HERE!
If you aren’t quite ready to join as a member, but would like to try freezer cooking, please sign up for a FREE Mini Menu by scrolling to the bottom of this page.