In the past, I have reviewed two programs that simplify once a month cooking and weekly meal planning. My ultimate goal is to have a consistently lower grocery bill, as well as a way to minimize my time and effort in the kitchen. I am sure your goals are the same.
Both once a month cooking (a.k.a freezer cooking) and weekly meal planning are huge money savers and time savers. However, it can be tricky to decide which one is best for your budget and your family. So here is my take of each once to help you sort out the pros and cons for yourself.
Once a Month Cooking
While I have used the Onceamonthmeals.com plan, I have also done freezer cooking on my own plan. If I am making a lot of recipes that I know by heart, then the shopping and food prep go very quickly. I can probably whip up 20-30 dinners in five hours. My grocery budget for the dinners ranges from $200-300, which is not too bad, but still high for feeding two adults (the toddler barley eats anything I cook).
I love doing freezer meals because I feel like I get the rest of the night off from cooking. What I don’t like about cooking once a month is that I spend so much at the grocery store in one trip and most of those ingredients go towards the meals. I then feel like I spend another $140-200 by the end of the month to keep our fridge stocked with breakfast and lunch items (and dare I say snacks for the toddler). So I love that it saves me a lot of time and energy, but my grocery bill always ends up being off the wall by the end of the month.
Weekly Meal Planning
If I go to the grocery store once a week, I spend about $40-70. I usually will buy all the meat that is on 50% clearance and some other essentials. My problem with this is that by the time I am needing to start dinner, I am wiped out. I know that I am not as accountable to making dinner when I cannot just pull out a freezer meal. This has tempted us to go to fast food more often, and I also feel like I have more food waste this way.
However, I have seen so many bloggers that are very organized in weekly meal planning. I think it is definitely do-able if you are the type that sticks with the plan instead of getting off course.
What Will Work for You?
Honestly, this is just something you have to play around with. I will most likely stick with the once a month freezer cooking because while I do spend more money throughout the month, we also avoid fast food more often. Also, freezer cooking means there is little food waste and all of my cooking energy is only needed for one day instead of every day. I will try to reduce my grocery budget through freezer cooking by making more breakfast and lunch freezer meals, as well as by staying away from the store. It is hard to spend too much on groceries if you don’t step into the grocery store every week!
I want to know what works for your family. Are you a freezer cooker, weekly menu planner, or a fly by the seat of your pants type of cook?