It’s slightly ironic that I’m sharing how to plan a freezer meal swap. I have turned down more than one offer to join. But my sweet, persistent friend Jennifer continued to throw out the idea and I finally, reluctantly agreed. After participating in my first swap I’m totally hooked and can’t wait for the next meet up.
Here are a few guidelines and tips that will help you start your very own freezer meal swap.
First off, gather some like-minded ladies. This is key to receiving and sharing meals that are healthy and nutritious. Talk about allergies or extreme, kids will gag and puke on the table dislikes. Perhaps the majority would prefer no mushroom dishes, cool, just include them separately or avoid mushroom dishes completely. Basically, discuss some ground rules, and check out Pinterest together for ideas.
Once you have established some guidelines pick a date to swap. Ask everyone to email the dish they will be making and the recipe one week before the swap. This ensures that no double recipes will be cooked and also provides room for changes if necessary.
During the week before the swap each participant will cook enough of the selected meal for each family in the group plus one to freeze for themselves. This is typically done in one afternoon. Example: This week I made Chicken Fried Rice, 8 meals total, kept one in my freezer (actually my kids ate it) and took 7 to the swap. I did this on a Saturday morning while Calvin kept the kids occupied.
Remember, freezer cooking has come a LONG way! You can make lasagna, burritos, chilli, sesame chicken, shepherds pie… the recipes are endless. There is much room for creativity and variety within the group.
On swap day plan to meet at one house. Swap day could happen once per month, or perhaps once every two months. Everyone brings their frozen dishes, socializes for a few minutes and then the fun begins. At our swap, each super-amazing mom described her dish and how to reheat it. The directions are also either printed out or written directly onto the dish. This is very important, make sure to label everything! You don’t want to end up with a freezer full of blank aluminum-wrapped mysteries.
Tips for swap day:
Bring your frozen creations in a tub or large tote. You don’t want to take a million trips to and from the car with heavy, frozen blocks of food. One tub, one trip, no problems. You will then have the empty tub or bag after unloading your meals. Load it back up with fabulous foods from your friends (I couldn’t resist the alliteration there) and you are set for another one trip return to your car.
Make sure to label everything ahead of time. Trying to label a cold frosty bag or container just won’t work. And you’ll have to write a little note with a heart on it so your friend will forgive you for giving her an unlabeled bag. (sorry Jenn!)
So. Why should you start a freezer swap? Well, why not! Spend a couple of hours cooking and walk away with many meals that you can pull out when a day is harder than expected or you just have a lot going on. In addition, you are gathering with friends for encouragement and nourishment. Lastly, consider how loving well can be added to the swap. Ask everyone to make an extra meal at times, then take the extra meals to a family who is discouraged, ill or experiencing a time of financial hardship. What an easy way to minister as a group.
Here are some pictures from our swap. I attended the swap in a weird, half pajama outfit and no make-up so I made my beautiful friends Jennifer and Jenny pose with the food and stayed far away from the camera.