No matter what you call it, making meals in bulk takes a lot of work. You spend all day in your kitchen, slaving over a hot stove. Once that is done, you think maybe you can catch some rest only to notice Mt St Dishes taking over the sink and counters.

The bright note is you have a nice stack of meals all ready for reheating to make your life easier. Maybe you only made a few meals, or perhaps you went all gung-ho and made a full 30 meals to cover an entire month of good food instead of fast food for your family.

As with any job, bringing friends along for the ride only makes things better.

First of all, you gain company. You can chatter with each other, catch up on the craziness that is life.

Second and absolutely great is the sharing of chores. My eyes are super sensitive and even being in a kitchen when someone cuts an onion causes me pain. We all have cooking tasks we want nothing to do with, and maybe you can buddy up and swap onerous tasks.

Third is the time saving. Let’s face it, it takes forever to make and assemble meals. If you have one person working the stove while another is working the cutting board or assembly line, things move quicker.

Finally, and my favourite, is variety in your meals. The best thing about freezer cooking is that by making multiple meals you can buy in bulk. Buying bulk quantities means bargains at the grocery store. Unfortunately most families don’t want to eat the same five meals each week for a month. However if you make a bunch of the same meal and can swap half with someone else that did a bunch of another meal? Ahhh variety, the spice of life!

There are different ways to freezer cook and likewise there are different ways to group up.

When I first started freezer cooking I wouldn’t do a full “Once a Month Cooking.” I’d make about twelve meals in total. I would also do this with a good friend in another state. We had unlimited minutes to one another and each month we looked forward to our cooking and cleaning day.

We really “discovered” our bulk cooking this way, sharing successes and failures as well as ideas. It is because of her I discovered my beloved Glad dishes.

Not too long after that, some local friends expressed an interest to also bulk cook. We’d meet once a month and swap. The rules were simple. Before coming you prepare four of the same meal and add label and cooking instructions. On swap day we’d meet up and chit chat for a few and discuss our meals. There were four of us, so we basically ended up with four different meals. I found that I would make five. One for my family to eat that night, and then I’d get one back for my freezer as well as three new and totally different meals. I loved this because it is super easy to make a bunch of the same meal and getting to swap out the extras was beyond awesome.

I really miss that group.

Shortly after selling the house in Ohio and moving out of my mother’s house here in Va, the women at church wanted to do some bulk cooking. I offered to give my insight and encouragement on a big cooking day, but someone decided to give one of those shops a whirl.

You’ve seen them. They have some cute name like Dine Out In or whatever. I can’t even remember what ours was called. Someone set up a “party” that we signed up for and then we got to pick out what meals we wanted to make. These shops do all the work for you. No mess in the kitchen, no pile of dishes, and best of all? NO CHOPPING or anything! You get there and everything is ready for you to roll. Scooooooop! Things go together in a flash! Now that’s meal prep in style! Of course, you pay a pretty penny for it, but the convenience was worth it. Oh and the meals tasted great! I wish I had some of those recipes even now.

I just found a site that I mentioned earlier this week that sets you for a full “once a month cooking day” menu and it’s set up for TWO families allowing you to hang out with a friend for the day and make food for both families. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me. I’d love to try something like that!

Today I made a bunch of meals. I still need to get out and get my lasagna noodles to finish that up, but I know they will go together in a matter of minutes because the prep work is complete. However one of the meals I made? The recipe made FIVE. This would be a perfect swap out. (Anyone want some Mexican “un”Stuffed Shells? I’ll swap!) Lucky for me I’m about to reach a very busy time so the meals I made can actually stretch into the first half of May, but could you imagine trying to fit five of the same meal into one calendar month? I sure couldn’t, even if it is one of our most loved meals!

So you can see why finding even one friend to freezer cook with can aid your attempts to prepare homemade meals for your family. I’ve tried several methods and they all have benefits.

If you are local and are interested in swapping with me, let me know. If you want help in setting up your own group and just want encouragement – I’m here for you.

The goal is not to wear you out, though the cooking day can be taxing. I won’t lie to you there. However you gain a far easier time midweek with dinner and hopefully that means less of the “Urgh I don’t want to make anything and I’m tired so let’s just go to McDonald’s” syndrome.

As Joram said earlier this week, “Homemade is almost always better!” Be your own “Hamburger Helper.”

Next up: Freezer Cooking – The Cooking Post.

–Lady O
P.S. I wasn’t kidding about the swapping. We can make the five meals work, however if you are game for a swap… I’m there! It is not vegetarian friendly.