Once every four months or so, I host a freezer meal activity where we make meals for the ladies in our congregation who have fallen on hard times, have long term health issues, have just had a baby, etc. Meals are a huge way to serve (everyone needs to eat, right!??!) and freezer meals are a great way to provide storeable food that can be used at their discretion.
I’ve done freezer meal activities in a variety of ways, but this is the tried and true method I feel works best. It’s great for a larger or smaller group (I never know how many people will attend until they actually show up) and doesn’t take a ton of time to execute.
Cost: I spend around $65-$75 for 14-15 meals. This includes everything: the pepper, salt, each spice, etc. It would be a lot less expensive if you were doing this at home with your husband/family because many of the ingredients you most likely already have on hand and don’t have to buy specifically for making freezer meals.
Time: Plan 1-2 hours, depending on how many people attend and how much time you spend chatting. If you are just doing this at home in the evening with your husband, plan on 2-3 hours for about 14 meals.
Set up: I have trays that I use for art activities at home that are perfect for setting up meal ingredients. I purchased my trays here. I arrange everything, along with the recipe so that it’s easy to find and easy to put together. I already have the bags labeled and on the trays as well. When people begin to arrive, I grab out the meat and put it next to each station so that it hasn’t just been sitting out. If there is more than one meal that needs a particular ingredient, I divide it up in sandwich bags (spices) or small tupperware (ex. olive oil) and add that to the tray as well.
Storing meals: All of the meals I use can be stored flat in Ziplock bags. I double bag all of them to prevent freezer burn. On the outside of the outside bag (got that??), I tape the label for that meal. It includes the name of the meal and instructions once it is pulled out of the freezer. (Example: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes). This way when I give it to someone who will be having a baby soon, etc, she knows what to do with it.
Be sure to squish/suck as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing. This also helps prevent freezer burn and makes them more flat for storing. One trick I use is to seal the bag almost all the way, insert a straw into the opening, and literally suck all of the air out. I swear it works as well as one of those pricey vacuum sealers.
For more tips and great freezer meals, check out the post, Freezer Meal 101!
- Freezer Meal Exchange Group: I’ve also participated in a freezer meal exchange group, which was AMAZING. Doing a freezer meal exchange is nice because everyone doesn’t have to meet together for a long period of time. Just find a group of 5-6 friends that wants to join in, make two freezer meals for each person in your group (example: if there are 5 women in the group, you make 5 Cheddar Chicken meals and 5 Lasagna rollup meals ), and meet to exchange them. You will end up taking home a variety of meals and stock up your freezer!
- Great tips for setting up a group from Simplify. Live, Love.
- Thriving Home calls her a Freezer Club. Sounds like a yummy club to belong to! Read about her club here.
- Fill the Freezer Baby Shower: Planning a baby shower but the mom-to-be already has everything she needs? Invite everyone to either come and prepare meals for her while they chat or bring a meal to add to her freezer. Here’s a fabulous link from Once a Month Meals to help you plan your shower, complete with a printable shower invitation!
- Freezer Pleaser Fundraiser: Fundraising for your school, church, or adoption? Stock a freezer full of meals and auction it off! Fun and unique way to raise money! More details from Julie Gumm here.