Do struggle with “whats for dinner?” I do! Often times I also feel like I’m in a rut of making the same chicken, vegetables and starchy vegetable. Enter in a Freezer Meal Exchange.
This actually came about when life was getting hectic as we were starting a family and taking on a home renovation project. A group of friends talked about the stress of dinner and how it would be great to help each other out. We decided once a quarter that we would create a group sign up and anyone that wanted to join could, which has been up to 12 people. The concept is easy. Everyone makes the number of meals for the number of people attending the Exchange. For instance, if you have 12 people, you make 12 freezer meals of one recipe. At the exchange everyone brings their recipe all ready prepared with instruction of how to make and sometimes what to serve with.
Once you have picked the date, location, and time; it’s time to pick your recipe. We have everyone list their recipe as best they can to avoid duplicates. Here are a couple options to get your Recipe Box started:
Creamy Cheesy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas by Chef In Training
Cilantro Lime Chicken by Making Our Marx
Chicken, Bean, and Cheese Burritos for the Freezer by Good Cheap Eats
5-Ingredient Easy White Chicken Chili by Gimme Some Oven
Day of the Exchange directions:
- Bring a cooler or large tote to carry your meals to and from
- Place a name tag on the each tote or cooler as they come into the house
- If it’s a larger group the garage works great
- Take out your freezer meals for swapping so you have room to start repacking the meals you will take home
- Best to have 1-2 people handout their meals at a time to help you stay organized
- Lastly, say Thank you to everyone and pack up
If possible we may stand around and chat for a bit, but most times we exchange on a Sunday afternoon and everyone is needing to get home to prep for the week. The Exchange itself only take about 15 minutes, but the prep time could take a couple hours. I remember our first Exchange we all came feeling exhausted from the work we had to do to get the meals ready, but within the first few days the messages came in about how nice it was to not have to think about dinner or how good it was to try a new recipe. I know during our home renovation project it was a breeze to plug in the crock-pot and forget about dinner until you started to smell the wonderful aromas!
Tips for a successful Freezer Meal Exchange:
- If you are going to pre-freezer your recipe, I recommend laying them as flat as you can so they take up less room in the freezer
- Write or type out clear instruction on each meal you bring
- Make sure to ask the group about any food allergies
- Try to have everyone make a final commitment one week prior to the Exchange to verify who is able to come
- If possible, mark on your recipe if the baking directions are from frozen or thawed
- Finally, most crock-pot recipes can be altered for your Instant Pot by cutting the time (YAY!!! )
Now it’s time to invite some friends to start your own group! It’s perfect timing with summer coming up. Try to keep all your meals to the Crock Pot/Instant Pot to avoid turning on the oven or standing next to a hot grill when it’s over 100 degrees.
Have fun and let us know what your favorite freezer meal recipes are!