Freezer meal cooking is my answer to getting a real vacation without resorting to junk food. But freezer meal cooking can also make for easier weeknights or can give you a day off from cooking once in a while. A freezer meal party is one way to fill the freezer with delicious and healthy meals that can be ready to serve quickly.
What is a Freezer Meal Party?
A freezer meal party is a fun way to build your freezer meal stash. One way to do this is to gather a few friends together and make a bunch of meals all at once. Each recipe that you make will be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, depending on how many friends you have cooking together. At the end of the party, each friend should have a number of freezer meals to bring home.
Benefits of a Freezer Meal Party
There are many reasons to throw a freezer meal party. Having meals in your freezer that are ready to heat up when you need them can save your sanity on busy days.
Freezer meals are also a great way to have a day off from cooking when you need it. Choosing to eat real food means we tend to make most meals from scratch. Planning one freezer meal night each week can be a good way to have a day off from cooking while continuing to eat healthy food.
But finding the time and energy to create a bunch of meals to stash in the freezer can be difficult. That’s where a freezer meal party comes in. A freezer meal party is a fun way to get all of those meals into your group’s freezers (and you get to hang out with your friends while you do it!).
How to Host a Freezer Meal Party
There are many ways to host a freezer meal party but here are some guidelines to help you plan one that works for you.
Gather a Group of (Nutritionally) Like-Minded Friends
If you’re going to share meals with a group of friends it’s important that you all eat in a similar way. If one friend is vegan and one is paleo it may be hard to find recipes that work for everyone. A few small preference differences (or food allergies) should be easy enough to navigate. Also, try to choose adventurous friends. It will be hard to find recipes that are everyone’s favorite foods so the group will have to be willing to try new things.
Choose a Leader and Location
As the organizer, you are the most obvious choice for leader. However, I recommend deferring leadership responsibilities to whoever is best at it. A good leader will be ok with telling others what to do (kindly of course) and will be the most organized.
You will also need to choose a location that will work for everyone. Ideally, it would be the largest, most well-equipped kitchen but you may decide to choose the house that is most centrally located.
Decide whether you are making cooked meals that will go in the freezer or if you plan to assemble the ingredients raw which will need to be added to a slow cooker or another method of cooking when it’s time to eat. You could also do some of each.
- Fully cooked food in the freezer may lose some flavor but it’s also the easiest freezer food to prepare the day you want to eat it. A frozen casserole should only take a couple hours to reheat in the oven (much less if it was fully thawed first).
- A meal that goes in the freezer raw will likely hold on to more of its flavor but needs extra prep time on the day you want to eat it.
Also, consider that meals that are fully cooked should probably go in oven-safe glass containers. This will make reheating much easier.
Gather Ingredients (and Share the Cost)
There are a few ways that you can gather the ingredients and work out dividing the cost of the meals between the party-goers.
- Have each friend purchase and bring ingredients for the recipe they chose.
- Have the leader buy all of the ingredients and divide up the cost evenly among the group.
- Have the leader assign ingredients to each group member.
It may be a good idea to poll the group and see what they think. You may have a friend with a stash of grass-fed butter in the freezer or another friend with a connection for high-quality fish or meat.
Once you’ve decided on a location go through your recipes and write down any cooking utensils or kitchen gadgets that location does not have. Send an email to the participants to find out if anyone has what you’re missing and if so ask them to bring it. Consider these essential kitchen items:
- Cooking tools – Mixing spoons, spatulas, knives, pots, pans, bowls, etc.
- Kitchen equipment – Food processor, blender, hand mixer, etc.
- Containers – Ask each participant to bring her own containers. Remember each container is going to need to fit an entire meal (four or more servings).
- Labels – Each container will need to be labeled for easier identification when it’s frozen (you may think you’ll remember, but you won’t, trust me!).
Also consider how everyone will get their meals home. A laundry basket, milk crate, or similar can work well to transport meals easily.
Now it’s time to cook. Here are some tips for getting the cooking done in an organized way:
- Have a prep team and a cook team. The prep team can prep ingredients for the next meal while the first is being put together.
- Do a quick clean up in between meals to keep the mess from getting out of hand.
- Consider assigning one person as the “cleaner” who can keep things picked up (and dishes done) as you go.
- The leader should be in charge of what is being cooked and when to stay organized.
A great tool to use for organizing the recipes is Real Plans. Once you add your recipes to Real Plans you can check the timeline and see which things need to be started first (because they have a long cook time, for example) or have steps that need to be done ahead of time.
Don’t Forget, It’s a Party!
It’s a party after all so be sure to plan some fun too! These tips will help you enjoy the party:
- Make sure there are snacks to eat. Everyone is going to get hungry smelling all of the amazing meals you’re cooking!
- Play some upbeat music. It can help motivate you and make the party more fun.
- Plan to make three to five meals depending on complexity. You don’t want to take on too much and make it stressful.
Following these tips will help you make this party fun and enjoyable, as well as productive!
Ideas For Recipes to Try
If you need some inspiration to get you started, check out a few of my favorite real-food freezer meal recipes below…
- Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Simple Black Bean Soup
- Farmhouse Beef & Bacon Stew
- Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Pork
- Chicken Taquitos
- Chicken Tortilla Soup from Mommypotamus
- Gluten-Free Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Have you ever been to a freezer meal party? How did it work out?