Shopping and Preparing for Freezer Meal Cooking
(Click to see the start of this series with links to all posts in the series!)
How the Group Works
- Picks the date
- Finalizes the menu
- Makes the shopping list
- Purchases all the food for cooking day (and will figure out totals for everyone and be reimbursed)
- Works with the co-shopper for shopping and assigning prep work.
- Hosts the cooking in her home.
- Assists the hostess with the menu and shopping list as needed
- Shops with the hostess on shopping day
- Helps assign the prep work for the members of the group
- Puts together the fridge list (a list that tells how to prepare frozen meals on dinner night)
Decide how often you want to meet.
My group meets every other month. This way you only have to host once a year. Cathy’s group meets every 6 weeks, so they get more meals to work with!
January – Hostess: Megan, Co-Shopper: Niki
March – Hostess: Niki, Co-Shopper: Amber
May – Hostess: Amber, Co-Shopper: Monica
July – Hostess: Monica, Co-Shopper: Molly
Sept – Hostess: Molly, Co-Shopper: Julie
Nov – Hostess: Julie, Co-Shopper: Megan
You always co-shop the time before you are the hostess this helps you be aware of what items may be left over from last time.
- We usually do all of the shopping at Winco and Costco. Although we always check for sales on meat which sometimes requires a trip to Paul’s or Albertsons.
- Hostess and co-shopper go to purchase all of the food. Shopping can take 2-3 hours. This can be purchased by one person or split if one person can not support a $500-600 charge to their account.
- We usually have the hostess pay for everything. Keep in mind that when shopping at Costco and Winco, you cannot use a credit card (unless you have an AmEx card at Costco).
- Make sure you each grab a cart. Shopping for this many meals and people requires a lot of food.
- The shopping list should include the number of ounces or lbs needed for each ingredient. The store does not have things measured in cups. If you have not done this ahead of time be sure to bring a conversion table. It is highly recommended to do this ahead of time b/c it is very difficult to do the math in the store on every item.
Things to buy that are not food items:
- Ziploc freezer Bags gallon, sandwich and quart size
- Sharpies (for labeling bags)
- Good quality foil (Great for wrapping Calzones, Breakfast Burrito’s and covering aluminum pans.)
- Plastic Wrap (used to cover Manicotti, Pizza or Enchilada’s before aluminum foil)
- Aluminum Pans as needed. (Ziploc bags are preferred because they take up less space in your freezer. They are also a more FabuLESSly Frugal choice.)
- Storage Tote for keeping the left over food items and the above items for the next meeting.
Notify members when you plan to shop so they can plan for time to prep food. Also let them know when you plan to be finished shopping so they can come and pick up their prep food from the hostess.
- Most of the chicken is cooked cut , shredded or sliced depending on recipes.
- Raw chicken is cut too if recipe requires.
- Ground beef is cooked with onion or taco seasoning as needed.
- Vegetables and fruits are cut.
- Cheese is grated (or just buy shredded cheese from Costco).
- Items are bagged and labeled.
Try to make it even for all members, but give the hostess a little bit of a break because this is a big month for her. Prep work can take 1-2 hours, depending on the number of meals on the menu. Split meats up among members to utilize everyones CrockPot. Crock Pot is the BEST way to cook the chicken. Grilling chicken before shredding it often leaves the chicken a bit to dry!
(24 small breasts of chicken cook for 4-5 hours on high and 8-12 hours on low)