I was published…

30 04 2009
I posted on our freezer meal swaps on Once A Month Mom. This blog has QUICKLY become one of my favorite blogs! Peek around and I think you’ll agree!
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Freezer Meal Swap

11 03 2009

If you read our family blog, you have probably seen me talking about a freezer meal swap. This is my newest baby addiction adventure! I love it! I first read about this idea on a blog. I knew immediately that I had to do this. It started with me inviting only friends from church and word spread like wildfire thanks to Facebook, others have joined in to make our upcoming 3rd swap a success.

I’ve had a handful of people ask all sorts of questions about it, including how to start. So, I decided to blog about it & have some Q&A time 🙂

We made a lot of changes between the first and second swaps and the second swap went much smoother. So I will start by saying how I would have started (before I conclude, I will share how I did start and highlight the changes we made & why).

PLANNING – I choose a time and date for the swap (we’ve been having the swap every 4-5 weeks) and contact those who are interested (and of course, allow them to share the group info with friends of theirs – more people, more food!) I have them email me how many will be eating (they may have 4 in their family, like us, but only 3 eating). I also have them inform me of food allergies or any major dislikes (we have no food allergies but hate fish, mushrooms and chunks of tomato!) I also have them pick out three recipes that they are interested in making. (All this info must be back to me by a certain date, usually 7-10 days after the email goes out).

Once I have all the info, I group the families by family size. I email each group the recipes that everyone emailed to me for voting, this way everyone has a say in what is being made. I tally up the votes and email out what each person will be making, the family sizes and allergy/dislike info. The swap usually happens two weeks later.

I’ll come back to the “meat” of the swap in a minute.

On swap day, each group is allotted 30 mins for swap time (we currently only have 2 groups). Having the times split and the groups coming in at different times prevents chaos and runs very smoothly, assuming that everyone shows up on time. We have a pretty large dining room table, so as each person comes in, everyone lines up their meals for each family. The best way to explain this is a picture: img_4161As soon as all meals are placed, everyone picks up their meals and leaves!

The swap is over!

PREPARING – I try to keep the group sizes to 5-6 families.  I will use February’s swap as an example.

For Group1 –

  1. Lasagna
  2. BBQ Chicken
  3. Beef & Bean Enchiladas
  4. Beef Taco Skillet
  5. 3 Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake
  6. Calzones (made-to-order)

For Group2 – (Group 2 had a family with 7 people, she doubled her meals for everyone and everyone returned the favor for her family).

  1. Pork Chop & Apple Casserole
  2. Beef Noodle Casserole
  3. Marvelous Mini Meatloaves
  4. Enchilada Casserole
  5. Lasagna

I was in Group1 and I made BBQ Chicken. I made enough for 6 families. On the swap day, I pulled out five bags of BBQ and left one in our freezer. Once the swap was over, I got to put 5 other yummy meals in our freezer!

After the swap – I send out an email asking:

*Was this overall enjoyable?
*Was it more or less work than you expected it to be?
*Are you finding the meals helpful for your family’s schedule?
*What would you like to see done differently next time, if anything?
*Would you like to participate in the next freezer meal swap?
*Any other questions, comments, suggestions?

——

How it really started –

  • I emailed those who would be interested, asked for the info (family size/allergies/dislikes) and grouped according to the allergy/dislike info
  • I asked for names of food, but no one really shared (I got a couple, but not many)
  • We all met at one time and chaos ensued!

Why some things changed –

  • Many expressed interest in having a say on what others were making. We decided on a voting system – knowing “majority rules” – this went over great for the second swap!
  • I group by family size trying to keep 2-3 eaters together and 4+ eaters together
  • We stagger the swap times – MUCH more efficient, MUCH less chaotic!

————–

Extras – I have allowed for people to “come and go” from swap to swap. They groups are not set in stone. This does make things a bit more time consuming in planning, but I think it works better for our type of group.

There are many places to get recipe ideas – just google “Freezer Meals” “Bulk Freezer Cooking” – anything along those lines. If you know you want to make a chicken meal, google “Chicken Freezer Meal”, etc….

What did I not answer? I’ll be happy to explain anything else in more detail and answer anything I didn’t explain!