I have had a number of people ask me about this freezer meal swap business that some friends and I participate in. We’re no experts – we’ve only done it a couple of times, and quite frankly the system is pretty straightforward, but I thought it was worth sharing in an effort to spread the easy-dinner-meal-love. This has been HUGELY helpful to me the last few months!
Quite simply, we each prepare five freezer-friendly meals of four servings each.
Then, we meet up at a designated time and location to swap. Each person takes five different meals home. We are a fairly diplomatic bunch, so we always lay out all the meals on the table, each person describes what is in theirs and how to cook/reheat it, and then we go around ensuring that we all get five different meals to take home. This only takes about 20 minutes (more, if there is a lot of chatting). If someone can’t make it to the actual swap, they can always send their meals with someone else or drop off at the swap location beforehand, and then we make sure they get their haul of new meals.
That’s it! Easy peasy. Not only do I like this system because it stocks my freezer full of quick dinners, but I like the communal aspect of it. The actual swapping is a little time to visit, but even the weeks afterward, when we are sitting down to eat one of the meals, I feel a sense of community with the friends who prepared the meal. This might sound a little weird, but the busyness of life with a little one at home can feel a isolating at times because my social activities are much fewer. And the logistics of having friends over or going over to someone’s house for dinner are sometimes daunting. So I like that I get to experience even a little connection with friends by eating their food!
Prepare SIX meals, not five. You’ll want one for yourself, and when you are preparing that much anyway, what is one more? (I didn’t do this the first time, and I still think about the mostaccioli that I didn’t get to enjoy.)
Label your meals w/ name of dish, cooking/reheating instructions, and date.
The more the merrier! As long as you have at least the number of individuals as you have prepared meals (five, in my own example), then the swap should work. We’ve typically had 7 or 8 folks, but still each only prepare five meals (we all agreed that is enough). This just means that each person won’t get every meal, but they will get five.
Let others know what you are planning to cook. We do this simply via email ahead of the swap so that we don’t all cook the exact same thing.
Set some themes. We have talked of doing a soup theme for winter, for example. Or, perhaps a dietary theme: vegetarian, dairy-free (my husband would appreciate this), or gluten-free.
Now I’m off to thaw some soup that I didn’t have to cook for dinner tonight. Woo!