Busy Mama? Tired Mama? Overworked and under-appreciated Mama? Did you just roll your eyes and recoil at the thought of yet another social engagement? Trust me, this is one you do not want to miss!
I attended one of these parties a few years ago, and ever since, my husband has been asking me to have another one. He is such a big fan that he even offers to help with the planning, the shopping, and the preparing.
Ladies, I present, the Freezer Meal Party!
I’m sure you’ve seen the plethora of great ideas for freezer meals on Pinterest. They promise a few hours of prep for several nights of healthy, prepared meals. What they don’t factor in is the amount of time put into planning, shopping, and overall cost of ingredients. With freezer meal parties, you are only planning ONE meal and leaving with EIGHT different ones! A freezer meal party works much like a cookie exchange. You prepare eight (or whatever number agreed upon by your group) of the same meal and leave with eight different meals.
Three Key Reasons Why Freezer Meal Parties Rock:
1. Save money
The cost of preparing eight freezer meals may seem prohibitive, but preparing them in this manner will save you a ton of money. You can buy in bulk. (Hello Costco!) For my most recent meal, I bought 15 pounds of pork, eight cans of baked beans, 12 cans of corn, and 64 rolls. The total cost averaged out to $7 per family freezer meal. That is less than you would spend at any fast food joint!
2. Save time
When you are only preparing one meal, you save yourself hours of researching recipes, shopping for hundreds of ingredients, cleaning knives and cutting boards, washing dishes, gathering a gazillion different spices, etc. Depending on the complexity of your meal, prep may take you as little as a half hour and you will come home with eight meals that you didn’t have to prepare!
This is probably my husband’s favorite part. When others contribute their favorite meals, you end up with an amazing variety. You get dishes you probably never would have made yourself and may end up finding a new family favorite.
In order to have a successful freezer meal party, follow these guidelines:
1. Limit the number of guests
I have found eight to be a good number for a variety of reasons: You get a large enough variety of meals to make it worth your while (two months’ worth if you have one once a week!); you aren’t making an exorbitant amount of meals to the point where it feels like a huge undertaking; you aren’t fronting a huge amount of money (you can certainly make eight meals in the $40-$90 range depending on your ingredients); and you can easily fit them in your freezer.
2. Tell the group what you plan to make
To avoid repeats or an abundance of one type of food, it is best to tell everyone what you plan to make. Some people like to prepare and try their meal ahead of time, others like to stick with a tried and true family recipe. Personally, the way I see it is, as long as it is edible and I didn’t have to cook that night, it’s a win-win!
3. Clean out some freezer space
It is nice to come home and put your meals directly into your freezer so you don’t have to scramble to find extra space. I also like to make a list of what I have so that I don’t forget and can include it in my weekly meal plan. It encourages me to use what we have in the freezer before buying more, thus saving even more money!
4. Set a final RSVP date
Do not allow cancellations or changes after that date to allow everyone to shop and prepare meals ahead of time. If you can’t attend, make arrangements to drop off and pick up your meals at a certain time.
5. Shop for your ingredients and prepare your meal
Each meal should contain everything needed to feed a family of four.
6. Include instructions for cooking
Does it need to thaw overnight? Does it need to be reheated or cooked in a crockpot? Be sure to include the date it was prepared as well as which items to serve with it.
7. Include any sides that are to be served with your dish
If your meal goes with rice, noodles, tortillas, etc. include those as well. (It is fine to measure out a cup or two of rice into a ziplock with cooking instructions!) The goal is for everyone to have complete, easy meals on hand to grab for the days they don’t feel like cooking or going to the store.
8. Bring a cooler with ice
You may want to stay and socialize awhile at the party. We don’t want anyone getting food poisoning, and any hostess will be hard stretched to be able to store 64 freezer meals!
9. Have fun!
It is a party after all! Make it a Mom’s Night Out or do the exchange during a playdate.