Once a Month Meals & Instant Pot Review

Disclosure: The following post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase an item from a link I provide to those shops, I might receive a commission. I only share products and services that I would personally use and think are a good fit for my readers. Thank you for supporting the brands that support our family. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

In the less than a month our family will be growing from a family of four to a family of five. Our baby is due to arrive in the middle of November, if not a little before, but as of right now, in just under a month we will welcome this new baby to our family.

I knew that I wanted to try to stock our freezer with several meals before the baby arrived so I would have nutritious food available for myself and my family. The problem was I had absolutely no idea how to go about making meals ahead of time or what type of meals I should even attempt to freeze.

Several months ago I bought an Instant Pot and it has been my favorite purchase in the last year. If you aren’t familiar with the Instant Pot it is a programmable pressure cooker that can dramatically cut the time you spend in the kitchen and allows you the ability to not have to monitor the oven or stovetop. Special thank you to my friend Jeanette for sharing how much she adored her Instant Pot which led me to purchase my own!

instant-pot-brown-rice

I have been attempting to streamline my kitchen over the last few weeks and decided to take the gigantic bag of rice we purchase monthly from Costco and divide it up into individual 2 cup bags. In case you were curious, out of this 12 pound bag of rice I had 14 two cup bags and 1 one cup bag. It is so much cheaper buying rice in bulk and cost just under $15. Cooking rice in the Instant Pot is the easiest thing to do. You simply need to place 2 cups of brown rice inside the Instant Pot with 2.5 cups of water and set it on manual for 22 minutes.

The way I cook our dinners now has drastically changed thanks to the Instant Pot. This got me wondering if maybe I could find a few recipes that I could freeze and put directly into my Instant Pot. A quick search on google led me to discover a website called Once a Month Meals.

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When I started searching the website it was like the clouds above my head parted open and light from heaven streamed down on me as angels sang Hallelujah. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but in all seriousness I knew I had just hit the freezer meal jackpot.

Once a Month Meals gives you everything you need to shop, prep and cook the bulk of your monthly meals in just one day — and freeze those meals for when you want to eat them. To start you can pick a meal plan that is based on 7 different dietary preference or you can customize your own.

I decided to customize the meal plan for our family only because we like to eat gluten, dairy, and egg free as much as possible. I also wanted all of our meals to be able to be cooked in the Instant Pot.

Currently, Once a Month Meals has 50 recipes specifically using the Instant Pot but their entire recipe library is huge and they have over 600 meal plans that you can choose from. If you decide to use one of their menu plans you can always swap recipes out to create a menu that best fits your needs.

I also want to mention that the recipes are easily able to be adapted to the needs of your own family. For example, our family stays away from soy and two of the recipes I selected called for soy sauce which I swapped out for coconut aminos.

When your menu is finalized you print out the shopping list, prep instructions, cooking day instructions, recipes, labels, and thaw sheet. Everything is organized for you to be able to succeed in prepping meals ahead of time for you and your family!

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My customized menu included…

  • 2 Breakfasts: Cherry Date Breakfast Bars and Sweet Potato Apple Hash
  • 7 Instant Pot Dinners: French Dip Sandwiches, Chicken and Rice Soup, Healthy Roots Chili, Honey Bourbon Chicken, Paleo Mongolian Beef, Paleo Tacos el Pastor, and Thai Chicken Thighs
  • 2 Snacks: AIP Pumpkin Bites, and Almond Butter & Bacon Energy Balls
  • 3 Side Dishes: Peas, Cauliflower, and Broccoli

Each recipe serves 4 and was doubled. When I was finished prepping all my meals my freezer was filled with 14 dinners!

There is no way I would have been able to have done this without Once a Month Meals. Everything was laid out perfectly and the directions were very easy to understand.

It took me a total of 8 hours to make, bake, and freeze all of these recipes. Not all of the recipes needed to be baked ahead of time which saved hours of prep work for me in the kitchen.

I feel so accomplished and proud of myself that at 35 weeks pregnant I was able to fill my freezer with healthy meals and snacks for myself and my family that are made with real food. The 8 hours it took me to complete this menu plan left me super tired and my body was ready to sit down after having been on my feet all day but it was so worth it!

I love that when I ready to make a meal I just need to let it thaw enough to remove it from the freezer bag and it can go into my Instant Pot frozen! Yes, you read that correctly, it can be cooked from frozen in the Instant Pot. Plus it will be fully cooked and ready to eat in an hour!

When I froze my meals for the Instant Pot I froze each meal in a freezer bag that was placed in a bowl, pot, pan, or anything else I could find in my kitchen that would fit inside my Instant Pot. I wish I could say this was my brilliant idea but it came from the Once a Month Meals website. They seriously have included everything to make you as successful as possible when prepping your meals.

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Thankfully all the meals fit into my freezer to freeze. I was a little nervous to see how they would fit. 14 was the magic number of meals to make at once for the size of my freezer.

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The next day I removed the meals from the freezer so I could take them out of the containers.

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Amazingly they all fit back into the freezer perfectly and I even had the top shelf left empty!

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The total cost for all these recipes was $300. I purchased organic meat and produce and had to go to several stores to buy everything that was needed. Depending on the menu you choose, the region you live in, how you shop, and how big your family is the cost of your meals will vary. Once a Month Meals reports that shopping for a monthly menu can average between $150-300.

The shopping trip happened a day before the prep work and two days before the recipes were put together. When you are doing freezer meals you want to think of the process as more of a marathon than a sprint. Shopping, prepping, and freezing are best done in phases and not on the same day.

With a four year old, two year old, and newborn this will be the best gift to myself! Having a fully stocked freezer with meals and snacks ready to go makes me so happy!

I can see myself making more meals and snacks ahead of time for my family especially in the month or two after the baby arrives if these recipes are successful. The day spent in the kitchen is worth the time if it allows me to prep so many meals at once.

I obviously didn’t cover everything but hopefully this gives you a good idea of what I did to plan ahead for our meals. Let me know if you would like me to post an update on the meals after they have been cooked. I would be happy to do that if it would be helpful.

Once a Month Meals has two membership options for you to choose between. You can select either a $16 monthly subscription or a $170 yearly subscription. Regardless of whether you choose the monthly or yearly option, your membership will give you access to all nine menus and associated documents (shopping, recipes, instructions, etc.) as well as the ability to mix and match recipes from different menus to create your own custom menus in MenuBuilder.

I would love to know if you have ever made freezer meals? Do you own an Instant Pot?

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Breakfast Oatmeal Muffins

Happy New Year! I hope you had a Merry Christmas! Today I am sharing an easy to make breakfast that is perfect for a busy morning, breakfast oatmeal muffins. They are little cups of baked oatmeal goodness.

Breakfast is my very favorite meal of the day and since doing the Elimination Diet last year many of my loved favorites are no longer an option for me to eat. Eggs and my body do not agree with each other and sadly I have had to forgo my Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes and also Overnight Blueberry French Toast.

I have become a huge fan of hot cereals and love oatmeal, quinoa, and rice in the morning. The only thing with hot cereal is you have to plan ahead or wake up early to make sure they are done in time for the kids to eat. This isn’t usually a problem but on a rare morning that I happen to sleep in until Caden’s sweet little voice is telling me he is awake from the other room or Maisie little coos and giggles wake me up I need something that is a little quicker to prepare for breakfast.

Breakfast Oatmeal Muffins

These grab and go breakfast oatmeal muffins are great to make on the weekend so you have them for the week ahead. Plus any leftover breakfast oatmeal muffins can be easily frozen and reheated until needed. This is also the easiest recipe to follow. You dump all the ingredients into a bowl, mix well, and are ready to scoop the batter into the trays and place in the oven. It really doesn’t get easier than that for a homemade recipe. Oh, and did I mention they are egg free, dairy free, and gluten free!

Ingredients 

  • 5 cups gluten free rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 cups over ripe mashed bananas (5-6 medium bananas)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life) or 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (I did 50/50)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Grease cupcake/muffin tray with coconut oil. Scoop mixture into tray. Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. While still warm remove muffins from tray. Enjoy. These can be eaten right away or frozen and reheated for a delicious breakfast on a busy morning.

Yields: 24 muffins

Let me know what you think!

In case we are not Facebook friends or follow each other on Instagram I recently released my first 30-day fitness program. I will be sharing the details on it later in the week but if you want a sneak peek head over to my Online Coaching page.

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Natural Grocers Scottsdale

This weekend Josh and I were invite to a sneak peek tour and shopping event at the new Natural Grocers in Scottsdale. While normally we wouldn’t drive 15 miles north of our house to grocery shop we were both intrigued and wanted to check out this new store. Now after visiting and shopping we are hoping and asking that they please open a store in Chandler. Please, please, please.

Natural Grocers Scottsdale AZ

The Scottsdale store is Natural Grocers 100th store and is a specialty retailer of organic and natural groceries, body care, and dietary supplements. Natural Grocers has stores in over 17 states and this year they are opening 18 new stores. The Scottsdale store features a community room with free wi-fi, complimentary coffee and tea for shoppers, and contains a kitchen that will be used for cooking demos and lectures.

Why we are really hoping they open a store in Chandler…

In the grocery department:

  • Natural Grocers does NOT carry products that contain artificial colors, flavors, sweetness, or preservatives. 
  • They do NOT sell hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils.

In the produce department:

Natural Grocers Produce

  • You will only find USDA Certified Organic Produce at Natural Grocers. The produce was beautiful and I loved not having to search for my organic fruits and veggies.

Employees:

  • They are knowledgable in the products they carry. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of information the employee in the supplement section offered us about fish oil. Explaining how to read the labels and what to look for in regards to EPA and DHA.
  • Each store has a Nutritional Health Coach that is available for FREE consultations to shoppers to answer questions on special diet needs, design eating programs, and can educate consumers on individual health and fitness goals.

Affordability:

  • Natural Grocers believe healthy foods and nutritional supplements should be affordable to everyone.
  • They are the low price leader in this industry and they will price match.

Natural Grocers cares about the healthy choices their customers make and what you to be your own advocate for your health. They firmly believe that affordable access to healthy food and nutrition education can change peoples lives and you can see that they incorporate this belief into how they operate.

They don’t have a butcher but they do carry Mary’s, Applegate, and several other popular non-GMO brands. Natural Grocers is also a bagless store. Either bring your own, buy reusables from them, or grab some boxes at checkout to carry out your purchases.

Josh and I were also able to sample a few tasty treats yesterday and I LOVED the Curry Cashew Chicken Wrap. It reminded me of the Curry Chicken Salad from Pita Jungle. So so good! They also provided us with all the recipes of the foods we sampled.

Curry Cashew Chicken Wrap

Curry Cashew Chicken Wrap Recipe

I would LOVE to shop here on a regular basis. I know many friends and family who would love this store in Chandler! If you live in Scottsdale be sure to check out the store. It is 1 mile north of Cactus Pool & Recreation Center.

13802 NORTH SCOTTSDALE ROAD UNIT 110

STORE HOURS: MON – SAT: 8AM – 9:04PM, SUN: 8AM – 7:06PM

(480) 483-2200 | NATURALGROCERS.COM

Have you ever shopped at Natural Grocers or are you planning too?

PS…If you are local, Josh and I will be offering FITCamps for adults and families (3+) at Freestone Park in Gilbert in September. For details click HERE.Buschel Family Fitness

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