(Click to see the start of this series with links to all posts in the series!)
Getting A Group Together
There are a couple of ways to do freezer meal cooking.
- On your own
- Double or triple a meal you are making for your family and freeze one and eat one that night.
- Designate a day to cook several meals and freeze them for another day, this can be done at any level 5 meals or 30. Whatever works for you.
- With a group – Get a group of about 4-10 people. Get together and bring your recipes. Decide on a menu. Then go home and cook your meals individually. Set a date and exchange your meals. I have tried each of these and this is what works best for me, so I’m going to tell you all about starting a Freezer Meal Cooking Group.
Choose a group size: We have found that a group of 6 works BEST! You may want to start out small with just a couple of friends and go from there. Take caution on a group bigger than six because you may not be able to fit in the kitchen or fit all of the food in the cart at the store!
Serving Size Matters:Find a group of friends with similar family sizes. It does not have to be exact. What matters is SERVING SIZE. You have to decide how many servings your group will provide. Everyone in the group gets the same number of servings. Maybe your husband eats like a trash compactor or your children eat like birds. So you have to decide how many serving sizes you want the group to provide. Then choose families that fit that.
When we started our group my family consisted of me, my husband and our 13 month old. So 4 servings worked great. It allowed for leftovers for lunch the next day. A Fabulessly Frugal idea! Cathy has 6 kids so her group does their meals in servings of 6 (some little people only eat half a serving).
Picky Palates: You also want to find people with similar tastes in food. You don’t have to like ALL of the same things but it is much easier, and you get better variety if you like many of the same things. It is also important to be open minded regarding recipes. You never know if you or your family will hate something until you have tried it! If someone does not like a meal that we have made they just exchange it with someone for something else.
Does Brand Matter? It does not matter to me, but it might matter to someone in the group. You have to figure out what these things are so everyone can be happy. I am so lucky that my group has ladies that all want the most Frugal choice and are not too brand specific. There are a few things like Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and no thanks on cheap salsa. You just have to figure out what works for your group. For example I was in a group once that liked ground turkey instead of hamburger and I did not really prefer that.
Also don’t forget to consider ALLERGIES!
Got Your Group? Now what?:
Choose a cooking day. We do all of our communication through email, it is so nice because we don’t have to play phone tag.
Plan a menu. We usually do about 15 meals. When first organizing a group, you will have to get recipe ideas, suggestions or input from all of the members. The recipes submitted should be ones that your family has not only tried (and liked), but that you know you freeze well too. Then everyone can vote on their favorites, or put the kibosh on one that they know for sure their family would hate. Everyone is given an opportunity to approve the menu so that we will all like the meals. After meeting a few times, you will have compiled a number of good recipes that you can repeat, while adding a few new ones each time. Your friends at Fabulessly Frugal will be posting recipes we have tried and love each Wedensday as part of our Fabuless Freezer Cooking Series.
When making a menu you must consider Which foods are not good for freezing?
- Rice- must be undercooked and sometimes still turns out a little mushy. We usually do not cook rice ahead of time. It is easy to prepare when meal time comes.
- Noodles- must be undercooked and sometimes still turn out mushy.
- Potatoes- do not freeze raw potatoes they turn brown. Use frozen potatoes for meals like Funeral Potatoes, Sausage Hash and Ham and Cheese Potatoes. When making soups we find that is works well to precook potatoes. Again undercook to avoid mushiness.
- Do not freeze- cream cheese, or raw eggs. Cooked eggs freeze fine like in Breakfast Burritos.
- Remember: You can freeze your meats twice if you cook them first.
Get your group together! Next week we will tell you all about shopping!