Let’s just start this off by saying freezer meals are incredible! If you love having freezer meals but get tired of all the work involved in getting them all made, you are going to 🎶 LOVE THIS 🎶 [[sung to you in my very dramatic, operatic voice]] 😜!!!!!
Here’s the thing. Freezer meals are definitely convenient when it comes to cooking dinner on those busy week nights. Buuuuuuttt…they are also a lot of work when it comes to preparing them. Sometimes it feels impossible to find time to cook dinner 6-7 nights a week, let alone preparing extra meals to be put in the freezer. It is a TON of work, but no worries I have a solution: Freezer meal swaps! A freezer meal swap is an organized trade of freezer meals with your friends. Fun and productive, right!?!
How it Works
- A group of friends decide to do the swap and get together to plan and organize details.
- Each person in the group chooses one recipe to make and makes that meal for each person in the group. For example, if the group has five members, four friends plus yourself, you would make five batches of the one meal you’ve chosen.
- After each person prepares their meals, you then get together with your friends and swap meals! Now you have 5 different freezer meals ready to go in your freezer!
So yes, you’re still preparing 5 freezer meals, but really you’re only preparing 1 meal 5 times. Because you’re making 5 of the same meal, you will save money buying in bulk and save time because you’re doing the same prep work, you’re just doing more of it. Good deal, right?
Setting Up a Freezer Meal Swap
Create Your Group
- Find some friends that would be interested in doing the swap with you. If you don’t know of anybody right off the top of your head or don’t have enough people for the group, reach out to people on social media and go from there!
- The number of people in your group will be the number of meals you will have to make and the number of meals you will end up having in your freezer. This can be any number, but I’d suggest starting somewhere between 5-10.
Organize and Plan Your Swap
After you have your group set and everyone is committed, planning meals and organizing the swap is a must. You can find a handy dandy Freezer Meal Swap Planner to help you out with the planning right here in the Resource Library. During this planning/organizing phase, you’ll want to solidify a few things:
Date of the Swap
Consider how much time you’ll each take to make all of the meals and when you’ll meet up for the swap. This will depend on the size of the group and the number of meals each person will be making, but usually one month is a good time frame.
Make sure everyone is aware of any dietary restrictions of any group member and/or their family members that will be eating the meals so that all recipes chosen can be enjoyed by everyone!
Decide on the meals each of you will be making! Planning which recipe each person will be responsible for is important because you want to make sure that everyone will end up with a variety of meals. Consider dish type, main protein, and cuisine when deciding on recipes as a group. You wouldn’t want to do all of this work only to come home with 5 pans of lasagna.
Handling Extra Ingredients
As a group, you’ll need to decide on how to handle extra ingredients to complete each meal. This decision is completely up to you and your group members, so do what works best for you all! Sometimes, freezer meal recipes will include ingredients that are NOT to be frozen with the rest of the meal. An example of this would be tortellini soup. In this particular recipe, you freeze the pasta, meat, and veggies together. When ready to cook, you place the thawed pasta, meat, and veggies into the crock-pot AND THEN add rice and stewed tomatoes to complete the meal. In this “extra ingredient” section, I’m not talking about the extra optional ingredients such as toppings and garnishes, but ingredients that are necessary for the meal to be complete. With extra ingredients you have 2 options:
- Option #1: Give each group member any and all extra ingredients needed to complete the meal. Using the tortellini soup example, this would mean giving each group member the frozen meal consisting of pasta, meat, and veggies AND also giving them rice and a can of stewed tomatoes.
- Option #2: Each group member is responsible themselves for extra ingredients needed to complete the meal. If your group goes with this option, make sure each group member knows what ingredients they’ll need to purchase for the meal. This can be done by writing the necessary extra ingredients on the freezer meal label when you make your labels AND highlighting the extra ingredients as they are listed on each copy of the recipe that you will be giving to each group member. You want to ensure that EVERYBODY is aware of the extra ingredients needed for the meal. If making tortellini soup, this would mean giving each group member ONLY the frozen meal of pasta, meat, and veggies and then making them aware that they will need to purchase the stewed tomatoes and rice themselves to complete the meal.
Summarize Your Plan
To sum it all up, once you’ve got your group of friends gathered for the freezer meal swap, these are the things you’ll want to MAKE SURE are planned and in place:
- Are there any dietary restrictions that need to be followed?
- What meal is each person making?
- How many meals will each person need to make? (Again, this will be the number of group members in your group. Make sure everyone understands how many TOTAL meals to make so nobody ends up forgetting to make one for themselves!)
- When and where will you meet up to swap freezer meals?
Making the Meals
Once you have the swap planned out, it’s time for everyone to make those meals! Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Buy ingredients in bulk at a store such as Sam’s Club or Costco when possible. This will save you money when buying all of the ingredients for your meals.
- Be sure to write thawing AND cooking instructions on each freezer meal. Also, if there are extra ingredients necessary to complete the meal, be sure to write these needed ingredients on your labels.
- Have each group member make copies of their chosen recipe. That way, at the swap you will all trade freezer meals as well as the recipes! If a meal requires extra ingredients and your group has decided to each be responsible for these individually, highlight the extra necessary ingredients on the recipe to make sure attention is drawn to them.
- Give yourself enough time to have all of the meals made AND frozen before the swap. We don’t want anyone worrying about the proper transportation techniques of raw chicken, so have the meal already frozen before the day of the swap!
For more detailed information on making freezer meals in general, check out this Freezer Meals for Everyone! Plus Free Printables! post!
You’ve planned, organized, and prepared all of your freezer meals. Now it’s time to swap! Pack up the freezer meals in a cooler and meet up with your group. Don’t forget to take a copy of the recipe you made to give to each group member!
Freezer Meal Recipes
There are massive amounts of freezer meal recipes out there that you can use and share with your friends. Follow me on Pinterest to see the board I have completely dedicated to freezer meal recipes! Here are some great freezer meal recipes to get your swap started:
- 20 Make-Ahead Freezer Meal Dinners for Busy Moms
- Super Fast Chicken Freezer Meals
- 101 Traditional Freezer Meals
- 20 Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals in Under 2 Hours!
- The Ultimate Freezer Meal Post
Also, don’t forget to grab your Freezer Meal Swap Planner in the Resource Library!
If you have any questions or need help with anything, please feel free to contact me! Let me know how your swap goes! I’d love to hear from you!