Cooking + Meals / Home Life / Reviews

Waiting and Planning + Review: Once a Month Meals

So Baby D’s due date has come and gone. The preparation involved with a baby is a unique experience. The past several months has involved a variety of personal, professional, and little human-focused tasks and projects. I looked at my pregnancy as a time to get better at taking less work home, streamlining home systems, and of course, some self-care (I’ve never been one to turn down a massage or a good excuse for a pedicure. Pregnancy of course checks off both of these as necessities).

I enjoy cooking and home-cooked meals, but frankly the first trimester kicked my butt (having a broken foot didn’t help that matter) and the stories I’ve heard about how hungry I’ll be when feeding Baby D. had my hanger radar going off in advance. I did not want to be not only tired from caring for a newborn but also hungry.

My mom told me about Once a Month meals, a website where you can build and construct your own monthly meal plans. This seemed ideal and as I got ready to do a mass, nesting, cooking session, I shelled out $16 for the monthly fee to access all the goodies. I was not messing around with attempting to find maximum efficiency.

Once a Month Meals (OAMM) Review

blog review image OAMMThe beauty of OAMM is that you can set up your own menus and search a large database of menu items (thousands of recipes) to curate your own menu. In doing so, you can download a shopping list, prep list, and then meal list. In addition, you can print off all of your recipes at once. Existing meal plans can be edited to your personal taste (for example, my husband doesn’t like to eat fish, so it was easy to trade out those recipes) and you can adjust the quantity of people you are preparing for. In addition, for parents, there are meal plans based on infant stages.

I’ve done meal planning before that has typically involved bringing together a variety of Pinterest recipes, cook books, and articles. This seemed like an ideal solution. However, I’m  a pretty tech-savvy gal and so I quickly found some big limitations and bugs in their system, especially considering the steep monthly fee. With my first experience, I found that I could not add on more slots to meals to existing plans or to create my own from scratch. Meaning, an existing gluten-free meal plan may have eight meals, but I would like to add on a ninth to have it all in one place and that was not possible. So I wound up creating two different meal plans, putting the shopping lists together, and making my way to Costco and Trader Joe’s to follow what should be my handy shopping list.

I discovered when preparing that some of the recipes did not import correctly to their shopping lists and therefore I over purchased and prepared some items or did not have enough of others. As an example, there was a typo in the database for a recipe involving scrambled eggs that instructed I cook the scrambled eggs separate and in advance. This was not my first rodeo with an egg bake, so I found it odd, but cooked the eggs. I then discovered when going back to the original recipe from a blogger that the instructions did not appear as it did on OAMM and I had four scrambled eggs prepped but no recipe to go with them. Not the worse thing, but irritating when I was making enough meals for 28 dinners, three weeks of lunches, and a month of breakfasts.

What I also discovered is that the prep list required me to go back and forth to the recipes. The prep list would instruct that I combine all items for a given recipe but not include the quantity. I found that if I’m opening all the recipes, I might as well go step-by-step with each recipe instead of following a meal prep list that was not actually helping me save time.

A great feature about OAMM is that you can search by type of meal day prep. For example, if you want all meals that will be made by crock pot, on the stove top, or even in a waffle iron, you can search by that criteria.

To break it down, the pros and cons of OAMM in my experience are as follows:

Pros: Search by dietary need/restriction  |  Large database to search through  |  Helpful sample menus to get started  |  Swapping out recipes is easy

Cons: Database inaccuracies impacting key features  |  Many recipes do not include photos  |  Not intuitive to add more recipe slots to meal plans or to start your own meal plan from scratch  |  Recipes such as muffins or desserts are adjusted for quantity alongside other full meals; meaning, if you are cooking for two, you will be given meal instructions to make 4 muffins versus a full batch (who cooks only 4 muffins? Who only eats 4 muffins?).

Final review: Worth using as a free resource but skip the paid membership. I would recommend to OAMM to improve their database, add more photos, and provide a seal of recipe testing. One thing that makes me nervous in trying recipes from fellow bloggers or via Pinterest is that they do not undergo the same scrutiny and trial as recipes that go to print. Member feedback would also be a great feature to know how others have improved recipes or how they would rate the outcome.

The rest of this week, I would like to share more about how I’ve been preparing for baby from anticipating working motherhood to hospital bags. And some thoughts on first trimester while working because I found little information on that.

 

No compensation was received in for this review. Opinions and experiences are my own. 

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