Saturday, January 30, 2016

Freezer Meals Party

Starting in September 2015, every couple months I have been hosting a freezer meal party, and it has been great!

I started talking to a couple of other people at the ptf meeting last week and discovered they were really interested in the knitty gritty logistics of how I have been making it work. I was happy to share, especially since my particular flavor of freezer meal parties isn't like anything I have read on Pinterest, but is the best solution I've found to something that could be a logistical nightmare.

My friends and are are all connected through Facebook, and the parties are planned as events through there, with RSVPs incredibly important. The group has changed somewhat from month to month, and I am totally at peace with that as long as the people who are coming let me know a few weeks prior.

As it was my idea, I do choose the recipes, but I do have a group Pinterest board, and if people don't like the meals for the month, they just plan on coming on a future month. The number one thing I have strived to do with picking meals is to choose a meat theme.

Every freezer party that I have seen online is full of a few of this, that and the other kinds of meat. Which means that someone has to buy a bunch of different kinds of meat. I don't know, it makes more sense to me that each month I just choose one kind of meat.

We did a chicken month, a beef (like chuck roast) month, and today we did a ground beef month. 

The next thing I do, which again, I haven't seen anywhere, I just made it up, is I buy all of the ingredients except for the meat, I just buy enough for the whole group, then they pay me for their share. I do my best to be cost efficient, using Costco, deals at Target, or the 99 cent store to get all of the side ingredients for as little as possible, while having each person pick out their own meat prices. The reason is simple- my family prefers to typically get a higher quality meat (or use our freezer bison). But, I don't want to drive up the costs of my friends' meals to those prices if they don't want to use it. So we all just get our own meat.

Then, because I used to be a teacher, and am a planner by nature, prior to the party, I make up a strategy. For example, today's menu had a meatloaf that needed to bake prior to freezing, so we prepped and did that one first, and while it cooked moved onto other things.

At my house, we prep for the group, but assemble for ourselves. For example, our sloppy joes needed onions, garlic, peppers, etc. cut. So I was cutting one thing while my friends cut others. But once the vegetables were cooked, we all just put a portion into our bags. Some parties everyone preps their own food just near each other. No right or wrong way, just the way I think it works best for me. 

Things to note:

-I typically choose 4 meals, but most months I am doubling a lot of them. I have a deep freezer... most of my friends don't, so I have space for more, and they are happy with four (but are welcome to double anything as well). 

-Many hands make light work... but it is still a lot of work. Come expecting to be chopping, mixing, and assembling for hours.

-It makes a lot of dishes. Like stacks, because you are using multiple cutting boards, multiple bowls, and multiple work stations for it to go faster.

-The payoff is not on the day of the party (though friends make it fun).  Today I was tired, and literally just laid on the couch once we were done. But in the next month or two, when I can take something from the freezer, put it in the oven and have a healthy, low sodium, homemade dish ready for the family with no cutting, prepping or dishes... it is totally worth it!