How To Organize A Freezer Meal Swap
I belong to the local MOPS group and one of them recently suggested putting together a freezer meal swap. 10-12 of us were on board with the idea. I don’t know about you but
most some nights I love not having to put much thought into dinner. Having 10 meals in the freezer waiting to be cooked and making my life easier takes a huge stress load off of my shoulders. Plus I also know that on one of the many nights my husband will be on his own with the kids I know that I don’t have to do a lot of planning for what he will be serving for dinner.
What Is A Freezer Meal Swap
A freezer meal swap is a group that commits to making a pre-determined amount of the same meals to be swapped with in a group. By the end of the swap each mom should walk away with the same number of pre-determined meals ready to go. Freezer meals should be ready to go with very little prep work or the need to add ingredients from the recipients cupboard.
Benefits Of Participating In A Freezer Meal Swap
Variety - Many of the moms in my group are amazing cooks and bring a variety of ideas to the table. One mom makes a killer pot pie from scratch which is something I never serve.
Learning About Diversity in Foods - One mom in our group is allergic to just about everything and it’s been an experience learning about the diversity of foods that can be subbed out for another.
Having A Meal Ready To Go In The Freezer - Pretty explanatory here but it’s nice knowing I just need to pull something out of the freezer and pop it in the oven rather than trying to actually do the prepping while we are working on homework.
As I said above our participants came from our local MOPS group. Check with the fellow ladies you hang out with and many of them would probably know one or two people who would be interested as well. Plus that’s a great way to perhaps meet someone new. You could also put a feeler out on facebook or twitter but be cautious because your group could get huge. Our group decided no more than 10 but with 12 people wanting to participate we divided our group into 2 so we each are responsible for only 6 meals.
How Is Your Group Going To Communicate
Our group made a facebook group where we can all communicate with each other. I also made a google doc form that we can all access to keep things straight. Our google doc has the following columns: Participant name & contact information, family size, allergies or aversions, what your bringing to the swap and a notes section. Some groups can wing it and just know to meet up on x day every week and bring your dishes but our group likes having some say about what is going into the meals being cooked.
Decide How Often
Once a month works fine for me as I am willing to give up one Saturday or 4 extra hours an evening once a month to come away with 6 meals, however I don’t want to be a slave every weekend to this practice. If you have a smaller group perhaps every other week wouldn’t be to much to keep up with. Let the size of the group and the availability of schedules determine this because you don’t want this to become a dreaded commitment.
Decide About Cost
Some groups have to set cost limits because somebody will do a $5 dinner and another will have a steak marinating. This isn’t an issue for our group because we are all like minded individuals when it comes to frugal meals but for some this is something to consider.
Stick With Known Freezer Meal Recipes
This is not really the time to try a new recipe. Stick with ones you know taste great and freeze well. If you come across a recipe that you want to try for the group make two for your family. Serve one for dinner and freeze the second one. Re-heat the second one to make sure that it turns out great the second time. Then you can feel free to implement that particular meal into the group swap.
Set A Serving Size Number
This seems self explanatory but if you have some in your group who don’t have families or who have large ones this can get overlooked. All of our group members have families and we all have small children. We have set our serving size to 6 because that’s the largest family among the swap and the rest of have a few leftovers. By setting the rule it means that the different family sizes are accounted for. It doesn’t do the family of six any good if only two servings are given.
Decide Method Of Re-Heating
For some this might not be an issue but our group needed to take this into account because two of our members don’t own crock pots. I have really gotten into making meals that can be frozen and re-heated in the crock pot. However, I need to remember that they don’t make the best meal swap unless they can be fixed in the oven or on the stove top as well because of this issue. It doesn’t hurt to survey the group and make sure they have the tools needed to warm up the meals from the group.
Get together after the first month or two and discuss how it’s going. This is also where the “notes” column on the google drive comes in hand. Participants need to be able to express what worked and didn’t work openly without criticism. Family tastes are different and need to be able to express that positively though.
Up next week….What Meals Work For A Freezer Swap.