Creating Inexpensive Meals…One Month at a Time!

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on March 17, 2009

Tricia shares her experience and savings from their first month of cooking at Once A Month Mom. The time, money (and dishsoap!) she saved is remarkable!!!

Erin was one of the first bloggers I ever met in real life! She was so kind and gracious to help me along and give me some pointers when I was just in the development stages of my own website. I was so glad to have met her and am completely grateful for the other great bloggers that she has since introduced to me.

In February, my friend Cortney and I launched Once A Month Mom, a website dedicated to helping you make inexpensive meals for your family one month at a time. I work on the once-a-month cooking side (also referred to as freezer cooking, power cooking, bulk cooking and OAMC) for our families. Taking this approach has saved or families a lot of money over the course of the past month (and in the past when we have done this type of cooking). Cortney focuses on making baby food one month at a time. We both have infants and wanted to make our own baby food, but those little ones eat so much! So we decided it might be best to make enough for the entire month.

How much did we save?
For the cooking side, in February, we spent $149.13 on all of the ingredients for the 58 meals that we made! That translated to $2.57 a meal! WOW, even I was blown away. That meant that for well over half the meals for our family (we have a lot of leftovers to eat on subsequent days) I spent less than $75! That is incredibly less than my regular grocery budget! This month we have a new menu out that focuses on items that are commonly on sale in March like seafood, frozen foods, and eggs. We are tracking the sales and our savings so that hopefully we can come out as inexpensively as we did in February.

On the baby food side, in February, we made enough baby food for our 4-6 month old infants we saved between $25-$33 when compared to how much we would have spent on jars of baby food (depending on which type of jarred foods you are comparing)! Here are a few examples:

Organic Carrots (Trader Joes)
Appr. 2 1/2 lbs. = $1.78
Added appr. 1/2 c. of water
Made 42 oz.Cost =.04/oz.
Gerber equiv. 17 jars @ $.59 each = $10.03
Gerber Organic equiv. 17 jars @ $.69 each = $11.78
Net Savings $8.25 to $9.95

Organic Apples (Trader Joes)
3 lb. bag @ Trader Joes = $3.99
Added some water to make it stage 1 consistency
Made 28 oz.
Cost = $.14/oz.
Gerber equiv. 12 jars @ $.59 ea. = $7.08
Gerber Organic equiv. 12 jars @ $.69 = $8.28
Net Savings $3.09 to $4.29

There is a new baby food menu out for 6-9 month old children for March and another coming in April!

How did we do it?
Well, we have a menu each month that we establish on the first day of the month. Our site provides you with the month’s menu, recipes, a grocery list, and instructions for preparing the meals on your cooking day. Throughout the month we shop the grocer sales for the items on our grocery list. In the last week of the month we buy all of the items left on our list, on sale or not. Then we cook all of the meals (almost enough for the entire month) and freeze them for use later. By shopping the sales, using coupons and buying in bulk we are able to save a tremendous amount of money!

I love cooking once-a-month! It saves me so much money but it also saves me a lot of time each evening in the kitchen. No matter what is happening we don’t have to resort to fast food meals or expensive last minute grocery trips because there is always a meal ready in the freezer. So if you have been entertaining the idea of cooking one month at a time, you should join us in March!

Tricia recently had her first child and is getting used to her new career as a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband both reside in Ohio where she grew up. She and her co-author, Cortney, are trying to show others how to be good stewards of their time and their money while still providing wholesome and nutritious meal options to their families. You can find out more about her and what she is cooking up at onceamonthmom.com.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Hopgood March 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I need help? I usually just buy groceries every other day or so. I have done one week meal planning but never a month. I can see how it would be a great benefit. I want to do have the cooking done in say one day and then use the other days for whatever is needed. Where do I start??? Gratefully, Kathleen Hopgood in Texas

Reply

Simona July 26, 2009 at 5:56 am

We r now on a very tight budget and welcome any help on how to get thru the month on food. We are a family of 8. Thank you

Reply

Brenda May 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Need advice on how to plan monthly meals for a family of 3. Two out of 3 have type 2 diabeties. They are all ready obesse. I am on a monthly income and for my food, I spend $ 258.00 plus.

Reply

Bonnie August 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm

We are a family of 7. We are now struggling financially and I would love any ideas on how to make it all work on a small budget for so many people.

Reply

Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom August 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I’d say that you need to shoot for $10-$12 dinners for a family of 7. That’s a totally reasonable goal. If they need to cost less than that, I’d go with lots of rice and beans!

Reply

Mrs. Courson May 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I’m on a tight budget like most families, However I’m feeding 5 and how can I cook enough food to last for a month at a time. And what are some of the best meals to make when feeding 5 or more if we have company over for dinner one or twice a month. And what is the easiest way to make snacks kids will love that can also last a month at a time. I would appreciate any and all feed back! Thank you for the help. Sincerely, Mrs. Courson

Reply

crystal May 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm

i am a working mom in a family of three. I work during dinner hours everyday but would love to know that my family is fed while im gone. I spend roughly $100 on just my packed lunches every month and another $300 on food for home. I need help.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: