Note from Mommypotamus: When I first met Registered Nurse Sarah McLain at a small gathering in Nashville, she told me that a chance happening onto Mommypotamus inspired her to start researching health topics that are not given much attention in most nursing programs – nutrition, the impact of personal care products on our well-being, and research-based natural remedies. I think I cried a little after we talked – it was such a humbling and encouraging conversation!
Since then Sarah has gone on to become a voice for change, passing on what she’s learned to those in her community. Today I am so honored to be sharing this guest post from her on saving time in the kitchen and having fun with friends.
You can find more from her at Nurse Sarah Keeps It Real – I suggest you do!
If there’s one thing I love . . .
It’s getting to spend time with my best friends while making delicious food in the kitchen. There’s a sense of togetherness that comes with preparing food together that makes the “breaking of the bread” together all the more special.
However, I have to admit that there’s one thing that I love even more than cooking with good people… and that’s NOT having to spend ridiculous amounts of time in the kitchen every. single. night. of the week desperately trying to come up with something nutritious to feed my starving crew.
That’s why having a Freezer-Prep Party is awesome. It mixes two of my favorite things into one magical event that will leave you with endless nights of care-free dinners your family will love and thank you for . . . probably even give you an award for “Best Mom” or something. Well, maybe.
Either way, it’s totally worth it because you’ll save time and money (hello!!) and have loads of fun in the process!
How to Throw a Freezer Meal Prep Party
1. Gather a group of friends
Gather 4-5 friends who share your love for saving time & money and, of course, having fun! Something to keep in mind: You know your friends best and you know who will work best together.
As a general rule, I’ve found it’s easiest to work with friends who have similar standards for dietary requirements. It’s fun to explore, and everyone will bring their own ideas about what’s “best” which can add to the fun, but also can be a little challenging. Keep this in mind when organizing your group.
2. Designate one person as “leader”
This doesn’t necessarily have to be you. Your gathered group can take a vote if necessary, but I think this role should typically default to the person who is most diplomatic and awesome at organization, because there can end up being a bit of work involved for this person. (see #5 for more info on leader responsibilities)
3. Pick an event location
Preferably the friend’s house with the most kitchen and prep space, but you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish even in a tiny kitchen!
4. Pick a favorite recipe
Have each person come up with 1-2 favorite, tried & true freezer recipes to share with the group and then take a vote for the top 3-4 that you’re all going to make together at your freezer prep party. Be mindful that more than 4 recipes is quite ambitious, so I recommend taking it easy until you’ve got a couple parties under your belt! You’ll probably also want to lean towards more simple recipes to make it easier on everyone. The recipes should then be doubled, tripled or quadrupled depending on how many partygoers you have, so each person will go home with 6-8 freezer meals total.
**Pro Prepper-Party Tip**
Create a Facebook event for the big day and have this as a general meeting place before the party to share all of your ideas with each other. For instance, once you’ve all shared the recipes you love, you can easily create a poll for everyone to vote on which ones they want to make at the party. This is a fun and easy way to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
5. Be aware of leader responsibilities
Once the recipes are decided on, it will be the leader’s responsibility to coordinate getting the ingredients and delegate specific pre-party to-dos, as well as coming up with a game plan for how it’s going to go down on party day. The leader will also need to be prepared to handle the responsibility of making sure everyone has shared equally in the expense of the meals.
This doesn’t have to be complicated… For one party we had our leader purchase most of the groceries at the store, while I supplied all the meat from our local farmer since we got a super good deal on a bulk order of ground water buffalo. I’m lucky to have adventurous (and trusting!) friends, because none of them had tried water buffalo before, and were all afraid it was going to taste too “gamey”… thankfully they agreed with me after tasting all the meals that it was, in fact, delicious! Anyways, after all was bought and paid for she divvied up the expenses and each person wrote her a check to cover the costs.
6. Gather your supplies.
Make sure you have appropriate containers for all the prepped meals… I always prefer glass to plastic, but for things like chili or soups, gallon size Ziploc bags can work well and cut down on freezer space used (just remember to let food cool before putting in anything plastic to cut down on any chemical transfer that may happen when food touches the plastic).
*Leaders: It can be very helpful to provide recipe “packets” (with information about the recipes you’ve made that day) for each person to take home with them. I personally think it’s most helpful to have these printed, but you could also email them to each person if you prefer.
**Pro Prepper-Party Tip #2**
Bring a laundry basket to put all your meals in to take home. Trust me, this is a HUGE help. If any of your meals happen to leak on the transfer home, no worries, you’ve got easy clean up with a quick wipe down of the basket!
7. Get to work!
Now’s when the fun really begins. Your leader should have a clear game-plan of what needs to be prepped and when. We usually start with chopping veggies and cooking the meats.
8. Assemble your meals.
So basically, once you’ve got your ingredients ready to go… veggies chopped, meat pre-cooked, sauce ready… you divvy them up in everyone’s containers based on the recipes you’ve chosen. I recommend getting all your prep-work done first, and then assembling one recipe at a time. This cuts down on confusion and any potential mishaps… (ie: putting coconut aminos in the mix for tacos… whoops!)
9. Enjoy the time together.
I know that too many cooks in the kitchen and all that can sometimes be a little stressful… but remember that part of what makes this experience awesome and memorable is actually spending time together and talking! Having a good game plan for tackling the meals can majorly cut down on stress, but the main point is to just relax and enjoy the process together.
**Pro Prepper-Party Tip Numero Tres**
Have everyone bring a snack or meal item to munch on while you’re cooking all the food and assembling your freezer meals… It is a party after all! Plus, smelling the delicious food being prepared is sure to make everyone hungry, so be prepared!
10. Bring home the goodness!
Hopefully you’ve gotten your freezer ready before getting home, because you should have 6-8 meals prepped and ready for some chill time! After a hard day’s work, we usually end up eating one of our meals that night, but of course you can do whatever you like… save them for a rainy day, or enjoy having the next week “off” from meal duty!
Need some inspiration?
Check out a few of my favorite real-food freezer meal recipes below…
Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken from Mommypotamus
Simple Black Bean Soup from Once A Month Meals
Farmhouse Beef & Bacon Stew from Nourished Kitchen
Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Pork from Mommypotamus
Chicken Taquitos from Happy Money Saver
Chicken Tortilla Soup from Mommypotamus
Gluten-Free Cheddar Drop Biscuits from Recipes To Nourish