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Friday, July 1, 2011

Frugal Friday: Freezer Cooking Meal Swap

I do not like to cook, but like most people, I like to eat. I also want to provide nutritional, low-cost and delicious meals for my family. For me, the hardest part of getting a meal together is the actual planning of each meal. I would often find myself frustrated and tired at the end of the day, with nothing planned for dinner. So, I would call my husband and ask him to stop on his way home and pick up fast food, or we would order pizza, or we would load up into the car and go out to eat. We would spend too much money, we weren’t eating healthy foods and we were cranky.

I commiserated with a girlfriend about my plight over lunch one day and she was excited to tell me about something she heard about at a meeting for busy moms – freezer cooking. My first thought was “Oh gross.” I thought of meat with freezer burn, mushy vegetables and an unhappy, hungry family. She said she had this great book and it had wonderful recipes and great tips for how to freeze the food properly. Then she told me the meal I was eating was from the book. I dropped my fork and asked her for the book. She handed me what I now consider my freezer cooking Bible “30 Day Gourmet’s Big Book of Freezer Cooking.” (https://www.facebook.com/30DayGourmetFreezerCooking)

That very day my friend and I decided to do a cooking swap. We looked through the book and each chose four recipes that we liked, so that between us we had eight recipes. We decided to make enough for each of us to have two of each meal, so that at the end we would have sixteen individual meals each. It is so easy to make different portion sizes with this book because they do the math for you.

Here is what you need to do a freezer swap of your own:

Step One
Find a friend or friends with similar eating habits as your family.

Step Two
Look at recipes and decide ahead of time what each person will make. It is important to talk about what each person will make ahead of time so you do not end up with too many of the same meal. Part of the reason for doing a freezer swap is to get variety in your meals.

Sample of Freezer friendly recipes
Breakfast - http://lifeasmom.com/2010/08/freezer-fr ... cipes.html
Lunch - http://www.momsbudget.com/freezercookin ... ideas.html
Dinner - http://www.freezerdinner.com/

Step Three
Decide when and how you will swap meals. Some people like to get together and do the cooking together. We decided to cook in our own homes and bring all the food together.

Step Four
Decide how you will divide the meals. Do you want to divide the food as the meals are cooked? Do you want to divide the meals once you are all together? You also need to determine what kinds of containers you will use to store the meals once they are in the freezer. I have a vacuum sealer and prefer to use it to preserve my meals before storing them, but it is not necessary to do so.

Step Five
Once you have made all the important decisions, it is time to shop for your ingredients. Check your store fliers for sales to get the best deals. Or, if you are like me, stock up on meats and other staples as they go on sale and pick your recipes based on what you already have in your home.

Step Six
Get together. Whether you have decided to prep and cook your meals individually or as a group, you need to swap meals. Have a sample of your meals for each participant to taste. Share your recipes and be sure to include the cooking instructions for each meal. Have a drink, talk and relax. You got a lot accomplished!

Post submitted by Melissa from TriangleMommies.com

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