Southern Mom Loves: Once A Month Meals Pro Membership Review

Once A Month Meals Pro Membership Review

Friday, March 14, 2014

This post contains affiliate links; All opinions are my own.

Once A Month Meals logo

As some of you may know, I gushed in a post about Menu Planning about how much I love Once A Month Meals, and that I use them as a primary source for recipes when meal planning. Well, since then, I've become an affiliate. It just made sense. I was spreading the word anyway; I might as well get a couple of bucks for my time, so I joined their affiliate program. Don't worry, just clicking the links will only take you to their site and you won't be charged a thing, and I don't get anything unless you sign up. So, if you are planning on signing up, I would appreciate it if you would use one of my links!

I received an email letting me know that I was being given a free month of the new Pro membership to test out so that I would know the ropes. Awesomesauce! It was perfect timing and I couldn't wait to get started.

So, I started here: Once A Month Meals. I signed into my account, clicked on Menu Builder at the top, chose my menu (Traditional), input my # of people being fed, and I was good to go. But wait, I'm testing out the Pro Membership, which includes swappable menus, so I can swap out the things I know the hubby and kids won't eat for a recipe from another menu (or in my case, recipes I've made recently and don't want to revisit so soon.) So I thought I would put this sucker through the full paces.

Here is what I wanted to do: I wanted to cook for 2 weeks for 4 people without repeating a meal. My husband and teenage son both eat enough for two, so I needed to plan dinners for 6 people (we do easy breakfasts and have sandwiches or leftovers for lunch.) Now, the menu plans 30 total meals for the month (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) to account for people eating out, or maybe you had a hankering for something else that night, so the menu includes 3 Breakfast recipes, 4 Lunch recipes, & 8 Dinner recipes, doubled. So it actually makes 6 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, & 16 Dinners total. Got that? I halve the amount of people being fed (to 3), and swap out the breakfasts and lunches for all dinners, I will have a total of 15 dinners for 6 with no repeats. Sweet. Let's do this.

Here is what happened: I input 3 people with Standard (not metric) measurements, and scrolled down to the button that says 'Create My Own Menu Based On This One'. That led me to a page listing each item on the menu with a 'Swap Recipe' button next to it. Once I picked what I wanted to replace and clicked to swap, I was greeted by a screen showing my choices: an entire recipe library in alphabetical order! Once I had all of the dishes I wanted on my menu, I scrolled down, made sure the correct number of people was showing and clicked on each link to get my customized grocery list, Cooking Day instructions, Prep Instructions, Labels with reheating instructions, Recipe Cards, and even a Thaw sheet letting you know how each dish is best thawed.

A pleasant surprise: The option to delete a meal altogether. I wanted to plan for 2 weeks (14 days), so I thought I was stuck with half a month (15 days), but not so. I could delete a meal and have exactly the number of days I wanted! I actually deleted 2 more because Fridays are our homemade pizza nights, so I ended up with 12.

Grocery shopping day: Not too bad shopping for an extra week. It added about 20 minutes onto my usual trip. Boo. But what was amazing is that I saved $90 by shopping for 2 weeks at once! Yay! I usually spend $150 each week, so it adds up to having spent only $105 per week. I bought the things I usually do in larger quantities and saved quite a lot; I also caught as many sales as I could and saved an additional $5.25 using coupons. This total doesn't include things like shampoo & conditioner, soap, fabric softener, toothpaste, etc., but did include all breakfasts, lunches, snacks, & dinners.

What that total also includes is the cost of disposable foil baking dishes. I don't have all that many casserole dishes and I didn't want to tie them up in the freezer, so I looked around for the foil ones that I could just top with a sheet of foil.

Tip: I went to Dollar Tree and got 5 two-packs of 10x13 foil baking dishes for $5! What? Yes! They also sell 8x8 in packs of 3 for $1! I have seen them in the grocery store for $3-$4 apiece! Get thee to the dollar store!

Cooking Day: Don't do what I did. Please. Save your sanity.

So, I decided when I got home from the grocery store that I would go ahead and cook/assemble 6 of the easiest meals now so I won't be overwhelmed on one big day. Great idea! Not Such A Great Idea: doing it after being out most of the morning/afternoon. Also Not Such A Great Idea: Doing it when you also have another dinner to cook and eat that night. Womp. To be fair, it also seemed like a great idea because I couldn't actually fit all of the groceries in the fridge/cabinets.

So...I'm exhausted, but it feels good having 6 meals out of the way and in the freezer. I could come down with the flu tomorrow and I wouldn't have to worry about meals. Even my husband can heat up/cook these dinners because of the handy labels on each container with exact instructions. I love that they thought of everything!

Once A Month Meals Pro Membership Review
6 whole evenings of doing more important things!

What it costs: Current basic membership is $10 a month or $99 a year, current pro membership is $16 a month or $170 a year.

What you get:
Once A Month Meals Pro Membership Review

What I would change: Some dish names I knew and could input into the search box when swapping, but a lot of them I didn't, and had to scroll through to find something that sounded good. I started out with the Traditional menu and knew I wanted some vegetarian dishes and some whole food dishes mixed in, but most weren't labeled with their menu type. That is the one change I would implement: give the option to search by ingredient or by menu type instead of just a recipe name search box/alphabetical library set-up.

Overall: It was so easy it blew my manual meal-planning out of the water. They do all of the work making grocery lists for you and even include cute labels to put on your dishes before they go in the freezer! Love it!

Have you heard of Once A Month Meals yet? Do you freezer cook or meal plan? What are some of your favorite dishes? I love to read your comments!

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  1. This is a great idea! Planning meals and cooking them ahead of time is something that I always 'plan' to do but never follow through. It would definitely make life easier.

    1. I really does! I'm coming into a week where we're super busy and it's nice to know I don't have to come home and cook when I'm exhausted!

  2. I am soooo doing this once I eat my next paycheck! This will really take the stress out of trying to eat better with a picky husband who never says what he wants to eat AND a 6 month old who doesn't always let me cook!

    1. Good to hear! It is really a great service, especially if you don't have the time (or inclination) to cook every day. I am loving just pulling dinner out of the freezer!

  3. I just joined (I used your link) and I am AMAZED by how easy this is! I got the pro membership, which has already proven to be helpful. There is an incredible variety and they appear to have thought of EVERYTHING. They even have some menu options for my baby, who is just starting solids! We don't typically eat breakfast due to our schedules and I can delete those from my menu and add another supper- It is very customizable and my grocery list is already written AND divided by section for easy shopping! I can hardly wait to start cooking (but I will heed Southern mom's advice about that)! Thanks for turning me on to this!

    1. Thanks so much! Isn't it awesome? I'm currently doing my 2nd big cooking day and it's kicking my butt, but I know when I'm done that I'll be all set for 2 weeks. It's a nice feeling!

      When you join, they send out "secret" emails on getting ready for the big day, step by step. These really helped me. I followed their advice and "prepped" ingredients before the cooking day and it has been immensely better this time.

      I can help you with any questions; you can reach me at southernmomloves(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

  4. Are you finding these meals to be very good?? I have tried a different posting for 20 slow-cooker meals and they've been "eh"...and I've been disappointed!

    1. These aren't all slow-cooker. Some are prep and freeze, then thaw and cook on the day you eat. Some are cook and freeze, and you just reheat. The basic idea is that you pick the meals, and they prep the instructions, grocery list, etc. It's handy, and I have found some of my all-time favorite recipes from them. They have literally hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from to build your menu.

      I kind of have a rule of thumb about using the slow-cooker: Soups, stews, beans, and (some) roasts are great, but not everything should be cooked in a slow-cooker. Chicken dishes for instance; Not my fave. In my experience, the chicken turns out rubbery.

      One dish that I thought would tank in the crock pot, and turned out to be the best: A pork shoulder for BBQ sandwiches. You cook it in a vinegar sauce, and it stinks up the house, but that pork was like butter! Got it from OAMM.

      Their recipes are free, it's just the meal-planning service that costs. Try them out for yourself before you commit!