How to Organize a Freezer Meal Swap


Freezer cooking can be really overwhelming, what with having to come up with the meals, make a plan, go to the grocery store, and then organize how to cook ten meals at once. When you’re done, you’re exhausted (and exhilarated – you just put 10 meals in your freezer!). But what if there was an easier way, would you take it? Heck yes you would! Insert – organize a freezer meal swap!

1. Choose your friends wisely. When choosing who you want to form a group with, keep in mind cooking styles. If you’re on a whole foods diet, and Sally Mae next door could care less about a food label, then you might not want to join forces with her. Be sure to choose people who have similar styles of food preparation as you do. Otherwise, you won’t like the food, and that totally misses the point of making this an easy way to get food in your freezer.

Organic Vegetable Boxes

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2. Choose the number of people to have in your group. From my experience, you probably want no more than 5-8 people per group. Keep in mind that you are making one or two meals for each person in the group. The more people you have the more meals you have to make, but the more meals you get to put in your freezer. Be aware of your time, and choose the number of people in your group with care. We’re not looking to over commit here!

3. Choose how many meals each person will make. The idea of a freezer meal swap is for each person to bring one or two dishes for each person in the group. So let’s say you each agree to bring one dish and there are five of you in the group. This means you need to bring four meals worth of your Best Homemade Hamburgers {you left yours at home in the freezer to make five}. From my experience, if you have 3-5 people in your group, it’s a good idea to swap two meals. If there are more than five people in your group, then only swap one meal.

4. Discuss the menu. At this point, everyone will need to choose which meals they will make and tell the entire group. This way you don’t have duplicate meals, and you can be sure it’s a meal everyone in the group will enjoy. It’s also a good idea to go with meals you know freeze well. This isn’t the time to experiment with what you think would freeze well. Feel free to try a recipe first for yourself, and then introduce it to the group’s menu after you’ve successfully made it.

5. Discuss allergies. Be sure to ask for who has allergies. If someone is allergic to onion, then just be sure to leave it out of your homemade chili for that person’s family. This is when sharing the list of ingredients is helpful. Allergen-free freezer cooking isn’t hard, but you do need to know so you can cook accordingly.

Freezer Meals

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6. Choose the method of storage. Will you use freezer bags, aluminum pans, or some other method? Choose the best method for storing your freezer meals to suit your group. I’ve found freezer bags to be the easiest way to swap meals because they can freeze flat, taking up far less space, and you can easily label the bag, which take me to number seven.

7. Label your containers clearly. Once you’ve made your meals, you’ll need to label each container or bag clearly. You need to include:

  • Name of meal
  • Date
  • Cooking instructions
  • Name of family it is going to – only if meals will be different (i.e., one family is allergic to onions)

8. Plan a date to swap freezer meals. Set the time and place to swap your meals. When choosing a place to swap, keep in mind whether you will be walking long distances, or hiking all ten of your meals up three flights of stairs. Freezer meals are heavy! So choose a time and place that is convenient for you.

9. Bring something to use to transport your meals to and from the swap. I always used a laundry basket to transport my meals. Others have used coolers, plastic bags, reusable shopping bags, suitcases, etc. Just keep in mind how far you will be traveling. You don’t want thawed chicken in your trunk.

10. Let people know if you like their meal. Once you’ve dug into each meal, be sure to let the person know if you liked it. Chances are, if all goes well, you’ll be doing another swap. I was part of a group for almost a year! You need to be able to take constructive criticism and understand that your family’s favorite may not be another family’s favorite. Be sure to create a culture where people can be honest. Otherwise, if you hate Sally Mae’s chicken noodle soup, you don’t want her showing up with it at the next swap. Be gracious, and maybe even offer a tip or two on how it would taste better in your opinion.

11. Plan your next freezer meal swap. Now that you have successfully completed a freezer meal swap, go ahead and plan your next one!

Organizing a freezer meal swap is an easy to way to get multiple meals in your freezer while only having to duplicate one single meal. Just save your meal to be eaten last because by the time you make eight Corn Chowders, you’ll be sick of it. ;)

Have you ever participated in a freezer meal swap? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

This post is linked to Miscellany Monday, Modest Monday, Welcome Home, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Time Warp Wife, Teach Me Tuesdays, Women Living Well, Works for Me, Healthy 2Day, WIP Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Homemakers Challenge, Thrive at Home, Living Well.

 

Comments

    • says

      Aprille, I have been there. I did freezer cooking in a little apartment freezer for years! I was amazed how much I could fit in there! That’s when finding the best storage containers (plastic freezer bags anyone?) comes in handy. We did finally get a freezer for our garage from some dear, dear friends. We are so very grateful for it! And you’re right, it makes freezer cooking way easier!!

  1. EcoMama says

    I’m so glad to find this post! I’ve been invited to join a freezer meal swap, but none of us have ever been in one, before. I do some freezer cooking for my own household, though. I’m definitely posting a link to this, in our fb group. Thank you so much for the excellent advice. :-)

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