Freezer Meal Swap Group

Have you ever heard of a freezer meal swap group? I hadn’t until I came across the term several months back while looking for ideas on how to make my life easier. Here in LA, there is a pretty strong culture of going out to eat. It is super prevalent because so many of us have long commutes or busy days.

Honestly, I assume this is a problem whether you live in LA with a crazy commute, or you live in a small town but have five kids.

I hate cooking. Okay, I don’t actually hate cooking. I hate deciding what to cook. My husband and I have even had arguments about what we should have for dinner. With the addition of my son to our lives, and the recent addition of a pretty busy work school schedule, the need to simplify my cooking process has never been more apparent.

The answer I stumbled across was freezer meal cooking – and it’s more social cousin – the freezer meal swap.

Freezer Meal Swap (noun): A small or large group of people who get together to trade meals that can be frozen and reheated well.

This could be a family size quiche, a pan of lasagna, a pan of enchiladas, and a crockpot meal in a gallon size freezer bag. All meals need to be made from fresh or canned ingredients. Refreezing food that has been previously frozen is safe in most cases. The idea is that you would make a set number of the same meals (let’s say 5) and then five people would also bring their five meals and everyone would swap one meal. So the outcome would be that you go home with a total of five different meals. In my scenario these would need to entrees.

How did I find people?

Well, I am part of a couple different groups (a mom’s group, a community group, etc.) and just reached out to folks in those groups to see who would participate. I have had groups ranging from 3 to 16. I think I would need a bigger location for any more people. The goal is that we have a chance to socialize and then swap meals.

The steps I did to create the freezer meal swap:

  1. Create a Facebook Event
  2. Include google doc link for people to sign up
  3. Contact everyone a few days in advance via a group Facebook chat
  4. Plan a date that works for most folks
  5. Set a deadline to sign up

The max amount people should spend per meal is $10. Meaning that for dinner for four people it would be 2.5o or less per person. This may vary depending on the dish you are making, but on average it won’t be more than the amount you all commit to. This truly results in significant savings.

Instead of dropping $30 for two people are a Chili’s or El Torito we are having home cooked meals for a tenth of the price person.

At the swap, we draw numbers and take turns taking the meals we prefer. If there are six people, we simply take each other’s dishes.  The outcomes haven’t been perfect, but most of the meals have been good if not great! It’s been a great learning experience and a fun way to get a break from the stress of daily cooking. In combination with some freezer meals I recently prepped. I have over 13 dinners, with enough left from each for lunch the next day, for both my husband and myself. So amazing!!

 

Below are some of the guidelines I use in our freezer swap:

On each bag of food, tray of food, or Ziploc:
– Write the recipe name (and ingredients if you can).
– Write the cooking or reheating instructions (i.e. how to defrost, or can it be cooked directly from frozen)
– Write suggested sides if you feel inclined.
– Once you have prepped the food, please freeze it.

Bring all food items frozen to the swap. When you bring the food with you, please put the items in a freezer bag or cooler.

If you would like to participate please sign up. DO NOT SIGN UP if you do not think you can commit to participating. If you sign up and have to cancel – CANCEL AT LEAST TWO DAYS BEFORE – please let the organizers know via the Facebook group. If you are sick, or have a valid family emergency, we will understand. However, we are all putting in TIME and MONEY to participate, so it is important that we have your commitment to participate.

Someone will call you the day before to verify your participation.

I am attaching some links to guidelines and basic expectations for a freezer meal club. If you need ideas for what to make google “freezer meals” or “14 crockpot meals in an hour”. There are tons of ideas out there. These meals will not all be organic, there is no guarantee they are GMO free, but please no MSG in family meals. Also NO PEANUTS. If you require a gluten free diet, this may or may not be the best option for you family. http://www.remodelaholic.com/2012/02/how-to-start-a-freezer-meal-exchange-club/

It is actually VERY Easy, but it is important we are all on the same page so we all leave HAPPY!

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