Later nights on the beach and lingering outside mean that summers become a hard time to cook. I meal plan using my Bullet Journal, but I thought it would be nice to have freezer meals to go to without much thought, healthy meals on reserve. I was looking for a business that offered a make-your-own freezer meal opportunity, but when I didn’t find one here, I thought: I’ll create my own! So I got some friends together for a Freezer Meal Party.
So if it haven’t heard of this, here’s what it is:
A group comes together for a few hours and makes freezer meals, everyone leaving with a bunch of packaged meals to take home to their freezer. When needed, they can pop the freezer meals out, reheat according to instructions, and have easy, healthy, homemade meals for the family.
I hadn’t ever done this before, so was confused where to start. I eventually found this blog post by Thriving Home and found it useful. But I’d like to add some thoughts.
Here are my tips on hosting a Freezer Meal Party:
1. Don’t invite too many people to your Freezer Meal Party!
I had invited a slew of women (I have a lot of love to give) and was kind of sad when only 4 said they could come. It turns out this was a blessing in disguise. Because it takes a lot of space, time and ingredients for this party. I say limit it to 6.
2. You need a big space.
I have a ridiculously large kitchen island that Joanna Gaines would be proud of, so this worked. While you may really want to open your home for this event, be realistic about how many people can comfortably fit in your kitchen.
3. Pick recipes thoughtfully; consider the division of ingredients and money for what works best for your group.
I had posted in a Facebook document a list of all the recipes available or suggested. After all, not many of us have go-to freezer meal bulk recipes in our back pockets. So some help was nice. Each woman attending picked one that appealed to her.
These are the recipes we had selected, all, conveniently, from Thriving Home!:
*don’t worry about bringing a copy of your recipe, I will have them printed and readyPlan to bring:1. Ziploc Bags or other freezable containers2.Seasonings/spices/veggies to share for your “claimed” freezer meal recipe (5 cooks)3. BYO MEATS-*these are all for the recipe size for 4 servings; if you want to double any buy accordingly! * of course, if you are not planning to make one of the recipes, just don’t buy stuff for that. 🙂* of course, if you are not planning to make one of the recipes, just don’t buy stuff for that.for Shrimp Skewers: 1 pound raw deveined large (16/20 count) shrimp (peeled or shell on)for Chicken Parmesan: 1⅓ lbs chicken tendersfor Chicken Burritos: 2 (about 1 lb) chicken breastsfor Mini-Italian Burgers: 1½ – 1¾ pounds ground beeffor Italian Meatballs: 1 ½ lb ground beef
My idea had merit: thinking that people have different standards regarding meat (for example, I am really picky about what chicken I buy). BUT, when cooking in bulk, this just wasn’t practical. It was much easier to put all the meat together and make huge batches, then divide the batches evenly.
So what would probably have been best was to purchase everything myself and then split the cost between the attendees. Plus, it would have been easier for them to get ready for my party!
4. Consider dietary concerns.
My family is gluten free (and if you haven’t read that post, please do because it’s not for reasons you may think). So making some of these recipes was more challenging. I ended up buying/bringing gluten free substitutes. This, once again, made bulk preparation tough. But not impossible. For the meatballs, I just did a smaller version using gluten free ingredients.
5. Have a lot of knives, cutting boards, pots, pans, Ziploc bags, foil, and labels!
Perhaps ask guests to bring these things if you don’t have enough. But we went through so many Ziplocs and foil that, given my post here, I was a little embarrassed. But how else are people to get these home? Some ladies brought coolers, too, to help transport the food.
It was also vital to have labels. Some of the recipes had specific reheat instructions. It was easy to write these on a label, stick it onto the Ziploc bag and put it right in the freezer, all together. That way, when we pull out the bag, the instructions are staring at us.
6. It’s still a party!
Even though there is work involved, this is a party. So have good food to eat, wine to share, and good music to groove to. This is like an old-fashioned barn raising (I think, I haven’t ever actually been to one) where a community comes together to make work that needs to be done fun. By putting in effort together in a fun environment, the rewards pay back later.
In fact, on a hot summer night when the kids are starving and food needs to get on the table, I am so grateful for these meals. I would do a freezer meal party again in a heartbeat.
It took us close to three hours to do all the work to make these recipes, but that was going at a leisurely pace. Doing this on a weeknight after work was doable, and it felt like a fun treat.
If you want more information, I *just* discovered this blog post at The Kitchn that is great! In fact, it’s so good it made me reconsider posting this article but, well, I have been writing this for almost a year and I won’t be stopped now!
Now go forth and make loads of meatballs…