The easiest way to save money on groceries is to meal plan. Plain and simple. The best way to meal plan is to meal prep, and the best way to meal prep is to do one big freezer meal prep session. One great freezer meal idea is to host a swap party. Save time, energy and money by swapping freezer meals and filling your freezer quick and easily with the help of friends.
Easy Freezer Meals
Make ahead freezer meals are great to have on hand when life gets busy. Be prepared for those busy times like the start of a new school year, when welcoming a new baby into the family, when someone is sick for an extended period of time or a time of grieving.
I find make ahead freezer meals are a great way to save your sanity in the dead of winter. When the holidays are near, it's a great way to budget cut and save for gift giving or to pay off holiday debt in the New Year when the budget is tight.
I recently hosted a small meal swap with a group of girl friends when our husbands went away on a hunting trip together. We all made 2 meals to share amongst each other and 1 for the men. We all had a weeks worth of meals for when they were off hunting during the day and we were busy being single parents to toddlers at home. It worked out well for all of us.
Hosting a meal swap is a great way to save money time and energy. It's also a fun way to change up your dinner routine, and a good excuse to get together with friends. Here's my tips for hosting a successful freezer meal swap.
How to Host a Freezer Meal Swap
1. Determine Who will participate
4-6 people seems to be key based on my experience. More than that becomes too stressful, people are spending more money on ingredients all at once and it's a lot to prepare for the swap.
2. Choose a date for the Meal Swap
An evening or a weekend is always a good idea, consider peoples work schedules and give enough time to prepare the meals ahead of time.
You'll need an hour window where everyone gets together and exchanges meals amongst each other. It's nice to make a visit out of it.
3. Make Ahead Freezer Meals
Set a clear outline for meals amongst the cooks. How many people should the meals serve? It's only fair to cook the same amount of servings when exchanging with people.
We solved this problem by all buying the same disposable tin trays and it made it easy to determine how much to make each.
Choose to all do a meat dish or all do vegetarian to keep the costs relatively similar.
Figure out dietary restrictions, gaps, keto, dairy free, vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, etc.
Create one pot meals, so that you take it out of the freezer and pop it in the oven. There should be no other prep to go alongside the meals. The idea is that you'll have no prep frozen meals ready to go in the freezer. Pull them out in the morning, defrost and bake.
Crockpot Freezer Meals
Another idea is to make ahead crockpot freezer meals instead of a traditional lasagne pan in the freezer. A couple of perks for crockpot freezer meals, is you literally dump the ingredients in the bag and freeze it. There is no cooking prep for crockpot freezer meals.
A handy tool to have is to have these super handy bag stands when preparing crockpot freezer meals.
Place the meat in the fridge and dump all the ingredients in the bags in an assembly line format. Then, place the meal portions in the bag. This way the meat goes into the crock pot first.
Recipe Ideas for Crockpot Freezer Meals
Easy Freezer Meal Recipes
4. Swapping freezer meals
Label meals with the name of the recipient, what it is, the baking instructions and who made it. You could include a recipe too as a nice touch. Make sure everybody shares what your making before hand so there isn't doubles!
Go ahead and download our Vintage Farmhouse Recipe Cards to print and use for your next swap.
Everyone should attend the swap party at the same time with a cooler filled with their meals to exchange. Have a table set up with everyones name on it. Lay out your meals under everyones name. Leave the party with the same amount of meals, just not all the same! You might make it more of an event by doing a wine and appie night or a games night.
+ Other Easy Freezer Meal Ideas
- Perfect choice for the holidays
- same as above but friends make soups in large freezer bags.
Meal Prep Swaps
- everyone attends the party to create the meals together in one place.
Make 1 extra to all give to a grieving family or a new mother
Make double batches and freeze one for a week to save on meal prep the next week
Start making triple batches when making dinner. Make one for dinner, one for leftover lunches and one for the freezer. It's not much harder to do triple duty at the same time than doing three separate meals.
Make the meals during the day while kids are napping or playing, the partner is at work and meals can be completed and freezer before eaten.
5. Easy Freezer Meal Planning
Record the meals that you've prepared on your monthly meal plan and on your freezer inventory to make sure that food is eaten within a relative time frame.
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