The following is a guest post from a friend of mine, Jennifer. She coordinates a Freezer Meal Exchange Group with friends of hers on Facebook. I asked her if she would be willing to share with us how it works and what it looks like and she graciously agreed! If you’d like to submit a guest post, you can read more about what we offer in exchange and what we’re looking for over here.
I really enjoy cooking, trying new recipes and providing a home cooked meal for my family. However, as a homeschool mom with three under five years, an aging, live-in mother-in-law to care for and life in general, mealtime had become so overwhelming. It seemed like most of my time was in the kitchen making meals or cleaning up the mess. Somehow this had to get easier…
In September of last year I posted something on Facebook about freezer meal exchange groups. I decided to contact the friends that had commented or “liked” the post. We have been exchanging meals monthly since and I can’t express enough how blessed I’ve been by the group! I have more time with my family and a stockpile of freezer meals.
Initially there was some concern about how much each person was spending on meals and quantity provided but with some guidelines and realizing that some people prefer to shop at discount stores and with coupons and some choose not to we have agreed that it’s up to the individual on what they spend each month. However, typically speaking, since we are buying in bulk to prepare in bulk we are saving time and money. Besides being a blessing to myself and my family, I have also had the ability to grab a meal from my freezer to take to a sick and/or needy family.
So, how does all this work?
Here are the guidelines we (currently) follow:
OBJECT: To have a freezer full of meals each month.
MAIN IDEA: Choose a meal to make in bulk, meet to exchange meals, fill your freezer with a meal from each person who is cooking for the month.
EXAMPLE: You decide to make lasagna and there are 8 cooks for the month (including self). Make 8 casseroles of lasagna (keep one for yourself). Bring 7 lasagnas to the exchange and take home 7 other dishes for the month.
FINE PRINT: This is a Facebook group. Being on Facebook makes it easy to communicate “in bulk”. Each month will be entered as an “Event” on Facebook with an rsvp deadline. You must rsvp by the deadline to be included in that months exchange. If your rsvp changes, please remember to change your status on the event page. When you rsvp please state what meal you intend to make. Cooks, please keep in mind that rsvp’s can change and will not be “firm” until the deadline stated. Therefore, shop/cook early at your
PREPARATION: Typically soups are stored in gallon size ziplocks and frozen flat. Casserole type dishes are stored in 9×13 aluminum casserole dishes with tin foil on top. Portion should be the same for all. (i.e. a family of 2 does not get a smaller casserole than a family of 6). Please label items before they are frozen. Your Sharpie pens do not work on plastic/tin that has been frozen. Recipes should be printed and handed out with your dish.
Allergies/Dislikes: Allergies should be expressed and respected by all cooks. There is a dislike list being generated for each family.
However, at this time it is up to each cook what to do with the given information.
I see options here:
- Omit the item of dislike.
- Omit the item of dislike for the specific family only.
- Just cook! and maybe leave items of dislike big for easy pickin’ out.
Meals for the month should have some variety (i.e. Soup/Stew, Italian, Mexican, etc.). We love Mexican food but don’t necessarily want a freezer full for the month! Diversity is a good thing! If you can’t make it to the exchange please make arrangements to drop
off/pick up at a different time. In addition to cooking for the group you may also choose to cook an extra meal. This meal will be used to bless another family. If you have a family that would benefit from our group’s monthly meals please let me know.
As always, suggestions and questions are welcomed!
Here are a few great bulk cooking/freezer meal cookbooks that you may be interested in…
Freezer Cookbook: Recipes for Freezer Cooking – Cook Today and Eat for Months