I can’t say that I have many genius moments, but starting a monthly freezer meal exchange group has definitely been a lifesaver! Once a month, five families put together multiples of the same meal and bring one for each of the other families. Each family brings home four new meals for their freezer. I make five batches of one recipe, bring four for each of the other families, and keep one for myself. It’s all about working smarter, not harder!
Benefits of Doing a Freezer Meal Exchange
Time saver. Making the same recipe five times over helps my weary mommy brain. Minimal thinking involved. It’s also a lot easier to shred a mountain of cheese once than to do it five separate times. I only have to clean up once, too. #WINNING
Budget friendly. Not only do I save time, but I’m also saving money because I can bulk buy all the ingredients to make my meals. And, I eliminate the temptation (and foolishness, let’s be real — taking kids out to eat is a headache) of going out to eat or picking up takeout somewhere.
New recipes. I never thought that I liked ham balls until one of my friends made them one month for the exchange. Lo and behold, they are delicious, and everyone in my family adored them. She gave me the recipe, and now they are in our regular dinner rotation.
Brain freeze elimination. After starting this freezer meal group, I have diminished the blind panic of “what’s for dinner?” I just pull something out of the freezer!
Blessing others. There are a lot of new moms in my circle of friends. It’s so easy to pull one of my extra meals out when a new little baby shows up on the scene. Or, if I’m feeling really on top of things, I just make six of my monthly meal instead of five.
Things to Think About
Frequency. Our group exchanges meals once a month, but we have been known to skip a month when life gets too hectic.
Location. I exchange with four other families from church, so once a month we all wheel in our coolers and exchange meals between services. It’s a bit comical.
Size. When I was thinking about starting this, I took into consideration the size of each of the families. Most of the families have one or two small kiddos and two adults. We only make main dishes and size them to feed four adults.
Food allergies/preferences. No one in our group has any food allergies (gluten, dairy, tomatoes, etc.) I purposefully made that choice because, frankly, those are challenges.
Food for Thought
- We schedule month by month, depending on people’s availability and schedules. With having five families participating, it’s fine if one family wants to take a month off every now and again.
- Package meals in foil containers, gallon baggies, or Gladware. Basically, you shouldn’t expect to see your container again.
- Crock Pot meals, soups, and casseroles make great exchange meals.
- We all have our food “preferences.” For example, my family HATES olives, so none of the meals are olive laden.
- Label the meals. Mystery meals can be fun, but only once in awhile!
- Each of us write the cooking instructions directly on the meal.
- We send out the recipes later via email.