I love events.
Moms’ nights out.
Okay, that last one happened a lot more often in undergrad.
But you get the point. If it’s about great conversation, even better company, and there might be snacks–I’m in.
Although I love an event that takes the whole evening, you might be relieved to find out that a freezer meal swap really isn’t that. You could definitely fold it into a bigger event if you wanted, but for our first swap, it only took a half hour!
Do you have a half hour to meet up with some friends and leave with a cooler full of delicious meals?
Red Lentil Soup with Corn Muffins, Chicken Taquitos, Beef Stew, and Breakfast Burritos.
Then a freezer swap might be the right thing for you!
You could certainly start yours with more ground rules or themes, but here’s how we’re getting started with ours.
Swap Size. A large group was invited but four people were able to participate in this swap. You’re going to have to make a meal for each participant, so think about what size will make it so you get a variety of meals but that it’s not cost- or time-prohibitive. I think about 4-6 might be a good starting point. If you wanted to invite a bigger group to make sure you can get 4-6, perhaps make a rule that the first six people to sign up can participate that month.
Meeting Time. Since we have a mixed group (work-outside-the-home, work-from-home, stay-at-home), we decided to meet in the late afternoon. Since it’s only once a month, it was possible for working moms to leave a little early, swing by and swap, and then go get kids from daycare. It was also late enough to not cause nap time issues for other families. Another friend swaps right after church (everyone brings a cooler in their trunk).
Meals. You’ll want to determine some basic guidelines. How many people should each meal feed (we decided on 4-6 people)? Should it just be an entree? Can it be crockpot or only freezer-to-oven? Any expectations on packaging?
For our first swap, it was a free-for-all (which still turned out delicious) but we briefly discussed future themes. Next month will be vegetarian, another month will be all muffins–the ideas are endless!
When you’re thinking about what to make for your own contribution, I’d recommend staying in your wheelhouse. Use Pinterest to get inspired, but pick a recipe where you feel comfortable with the ingredients, the preparation, and that fits your budget.
Advertise. Our founder created a Facebook event and gave people the opportunity to invite new people. Would this be the right form of social media for you? It made it so we could comment with questions, what we were thinking about making, and made it easy to invite new friends. You may want to put your first call out for participants 3-4 weeks before the swap so people can budget, buy supplies, pick a day to cook, and then of course, plan for the actual day!
My Swap Preparation
So, for this month’s swap, I decided to make breakfast burritos. It’s perhaps a little out of the ordinary (but I kind of like that) but our family loves brinner! Even if they weren’t eaten at dinner, really, the spirit of the swap is to help make families’ lives easier and I thought breakfast burritos would still fit the bill.
I wanted to make a variety of sizes or fillings without it getting too complicated. I settled on a sausage/sweet potato and a bacon/pepper/black bean as my main two. I purchased wheat/white tortillas, shredded cheese, and a lot of eggs.
Did you know that you can get really crispy bacon by baking it from a cold oven? Just cover your cookie sheet with some foil, lay out your bacon, put in your oven, and then set your temperature. I have no idea why this works, but it does!
While your bacon is bakin’, you can get your sweet potatoes peeled and diced. I tossed them in a little olive oil and cinnamon. When the bacon was done, put your potatoes in (I roasted at 400 degrees) and let them roast!
I sort of had multiple things going on at once. When the potatoes were done, I baked up the sausages. I have a major fear of grease (not from a health perspective, I just don’t want to get burned!) so baking works for me. Just to stay inconsistent, I am okay with using a little bit of oil to saute veggies. While the sausages were cooking, I got the peppers, some onions and garlic ready.
I read online that to keep your burritos from getting watery, it’s important to make sure all your ingredients are room temperature.
You don’t have to tell me twice to go re-watch an episode of Downton.
After all, it’s in the name of helping feed friends.
Once everything was cooled, time to assemble! I wrapped everything in Press-and-Seal, then bagged in freezer bags with written instructions (and codes for what each burrito contained).
And that’s it! One evening of effort and the reward of a freezer full of delicious meals!