For the last 9 months or so, my friend Brandy and I have been coordinating a freezer meal exchange with a group of friends each month. It has been awesome to have a supply of meals in the freezer that you just have to pop in the oven or heat up on the stove for those nights where cooking isn't an option or when you just don't have that fight left in you at the end of a long day. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has nights like that? Ha!
The first month we thought it would be fun to all get together and prepare our meals at the same time and in the same kitchen. We quickly learned that that wasn't the best strategy. So from then on, all the participants prepared their meals at their respective houses and then we just got together to exchange and hang out, if time and circumstances allowed.
The way it works is this: say there are 8 people participating that month. You would then decide on a meal you'd like to make and then prepare 8 of that meal. Then you meet up and exchange 7 of your 8 (you keep one of your own) and go home with 8 different meals. You save a lot of money only buying ingredients for one recipe and you save a lot of time only having to prep veggies and cook for one recipe. I've heard of freezer cooking where you make a bunch of different meals and then stock your freezer full of a variety, but making all of the same meal and then exchanging them out for a variety is a LOT easier and cost effective.
It's also been a great way to support friends and family in our community who are sick, have recently had a baby, or have lost a loved one. Each month we try to find a family in need and everybody prepares one extra meal to donate to the family. Which means that they get 8 meals that they can decide when they want to eat.
On average, my cooking time for all 8 meals is anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on the recipe I choose that month. And my average grocery bill has been $50-$60 which breaks down to roughly $6-$8 per meal, and each meal serves 6-8 people. Not too shabby considering most of the time you can squeeze two meals out of them if you don't mind leftovers!
Soups are one of my favorites because they freeze and reheat so well and you can make them really healthy with lots of veggies. Plus, you can freeze them flat and they take up much less room than a casserole pan. I made taco soup with ground turkey last month. Yum!
Last month I made tex-mex enchiladas. I don't have a link to a recipe since this is my own recipe but I think you can read it in the second picture. It's a simple recipe but it's so good and so easy. And you can make it as spicy (or unspicy) as you prefer.
A few other recipes that I've made to freeze are chicken & black bean casserole (healthy and soooo yummy!), baked ziti, spaghetti sauce, minestrone soup, and Pioneer Woman's chicken spaghetti. I also like to make breakfast ahead of time and keep it nice and handy in the freezer. Any time I make waffles, pancakes, or French toast I always make extra to freeze. And breakfast tacos and egg muffins (zero carbs and lots of veggies) are nice when I want to get some protein in our breakfast.
Just wanted to share some tips and recipes that have made my life easier!