how to start a freezer club

How to Start a Freezer Club (and Why You Should)

By Rachel Tiemeyer
February 10, 2014

Tight budget? Want to eat healthy meals at home regularly? No time to cook homemade meals during the week? I’ve got the answer for you: Start a Freezer Club.

A thorough guide about how to start your own time-saving, money-saving Freezer Club from a mom who did it for 7 years!

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Before having kids, I worked a full-time job with irregular hours. Dinner at home was the exception rather than the rule, unfortunately. Soon after quitting my full-time job to stay home with my first child (when the budget was much tighter!), my friend Darcie asked if I wanted to join her Freezer Club. After hearing what it was, I decided to give Freezer Club a try. Seven years later, we’re still going strong. And, now I’m a HUGE proponent of freezer meal cooking. I’d love to tell you more about my group, why I love it, and how to start a Freezer Club of your own.

What is a Freezer Club?

A Freezer Club is a small group of friends (anywhere from 2-8 people) who commit to cooking freezer-friendly meals for one another each month. (Take a moment and READ THIS if you’re unfamiliar with freezer meal cooking and wondering how it works.) My friends and I began our Freezer Club in 2007 and never looked back.

Our Freezer Club has had varying amounts of women in it over the years. Now days, I just swap with two of my good friends. Although I loved the days of bringing home 12 pre-made meals in one night, we find our smaller, more low-key group to be more manageable. However you decide to structure your Freezer Club, I think you’ll find it to be really fun and helpful!

Why Start a Freezer Club?

There are so many advantages to freezer meal cooking. These advantages are multiplied when you work together with like-minded friends. If we were sitting down for a cup of coffee and I was trying to convince you to start your own group, these would be my bullet points:

1 – Save money. By meal planning and buying in bulk, you’ll see your grocery bill go down significantly. Plus, for our family, knowing I have ready-to-go meals within reach keeps us from spending money by eating out. It’s hard to say for sure how much we save, but I’d wager to say it’s at least $100-200 a month by cooking this way even part of the time.

2 – Save time. By planning your shopping trip, you’ll cut down on all those little stops by the store during the week. You’ll also cut down on your prep and cooking time each month by preparing the same one or two meals in a large batch.

3 – Have healthy meals always on hand. If your Freezer Club is committed to a “real food philosophy” like ours (see “What makes for a healthy freezer meal?” in this post), you’ll be giving your family a wide variety of wholesome, nutrient-dense meals and NOT processed junk.

4 – Help others. A bonus to freezer meal cooking is that it’s easy to have meals on hand to take to new parents or someone in need, too. Over the years, our Freezer Club has collectively given many new moms, people in a crisis, and even a man recently released from prison some extra freezer meals to bake or warm up at their convenience.

how to start a freezer club

5 – It’s fun! Before paring down to my simpler Freezer Club group (just me and my two friends), I would meet with about 6-8 other gals every five weeks for our Freezer Club meetings for years. Those meetings were a blast! We had coffee, wine, snacks, and caught up at someone’s house. Then, we got to share recipes and chat about food, all while accomplishing a monthly meal plan. To top it all off, I came home each time and filled my freezer to the brim with pre-prepared healthy meals. The perfect night out if you ask this stay-at-home mom.

How Does a Freezer Club Work?

Step 1: Our Freezer Club comes up with a meal plan in advance over email. We used to do this at a once-a-month meeting but just don’t have time now. We each send about 3-5 recipes ideas out to our group and then we each vote for the ones we’d prefer from each person. We try to make sure there is variety in the menu plan, including some beef, chicken, pasta, seafood, soup, etc. You can cook one, two or even more meals for each other each month. Right now, my small Freezer Club group cooks one to two meals for each other depending on our schedules.

Step 2: We each cook our assigned meals on our own time, making sure that each family gets at least four servings of the selected recipe. Then, put it in the freezer until you’re ready to swap. To give you an idea of prep time, when I’ve made a meal for six families (that includes mine), it usually takes me about 2-3 hours from start to clean-up depending on the recipe.

how to start a freezer club

Step 3: Put a label on top of the meal, including the name, date prepared, who prepared it (in case they have questions), and directions for what to do with it after thawed (i.e. “Bake at 350 for 20 minutes” or “Warm on low on the stove.”). We have some super cute Freezer Meal Labels for only $1.99 here. Use them again and again.

Step 4: We swap our meals about once a month. You can meet at a friends’ house for dessert and drinks, meet up for coffee or dinner out, or just run the meals by each others’ houses when you’re out (not as fun!).

Are you ready to start a Freezer Club? Intrigued at least? Then you will need to think through these…

Questions to Ask Before Starting a Freezer Club

If you have some friends interested in starting a Freezer Club, it’s important to set up some ground rules from the beginning to make things run smoothly and to avoid frustration later. The bigger your group is, the more vital this becomes. Believe me. Our group learned this through trial and error, so I’m saving you a lot of headaches. Here are some questions to get you started:

What are our top food values? For instance, our group decided that we want to cook using “real food” ingredients and avoid processed ingredients as much as possible. We also try to use local or hormone-free/antibiotic-free meats. Other possible values: cost-effective, kid-friendly, healthy (and discuss what you mean by healthy!), or simply tasty. It’s important to have a discussion upfront with your group about what is most important to each of you when it comes to feeding your family.

How many meals will we make for one another each round? When I was in a bigger group we usually made two meals every 5 weeks. Now I usually make one per month with my two friends. You have to decide what works best for you in your phase of life.

How often will we swap meals? Every 4 weeks? 6 weeks? It can change during busier seasons, of course.

How much will we spend on our meals? Every group is different when it comes to figuring out meal cost, but it’s an important topic to discuss up front. Here are a few options to consider:

1 – Everyone polices themselves. This is how our group operated. So, if I did a more expensive meal one month, I would plan to do a cheaper meal the next. As a group, we tried to rotate who did the salmon and steak meals, for instance, since they were usually more expensive. This option also allows people who are thrifty shoppers to use their talent and not feel constrained by meeting a minimum cost.

2 – Set a cost range that members should think in terms of most months. We found that most of our meals were about $8-12, since we used local and organic ingredients.

3 – Have everyone bring their grocery store receipts, tally up the group cost at your meeting, and divide out equally. The upside is that cost is always even for everyone. The downside is that it takes a LOT of work and someone will inevitably forget their receipts or lose them. There’s also the occasional complications of people who purchase a side of beef for the freezer or those who grow some of their own ingredients, for instance. Figuring out exact cost can become tedious. I wouldn’t personally recommend this method. But, hey, if you’re a super administrative and love drowning in details as a group, then feel free! 🙂

How will we create our menu? Will we choose our meals at a face-to-face meeting? Over email? Using a Google Doc? Will each person be responsible for bringing at least four recipe ideas to the group to discuss and pick from, for example?

How many servings should each meal be? Our group has always done four servings for each family, since the majority of recipes make 4-8 servings. We even went so far as to create Freezer Club Guidelines & Reminders, a Google doc which you can download and use if you like, with some portion guidelines for certain kinds of meals (i.e. burger meals should contain four 1/4 lb burgers, chicken meals are 1.5 lbs of meat, tilapia should include 6 filets, etc.). The reason we did this is that often recipes vary when it comes to what a portion size actually is. When in doubt, though, we try to be generous with portions.

What kind of containers will we swap meals in? We highly recommend using a BPA-free container or dish. While it may be easier to buy the disposable foil containers, it might make sense for your group to invest in some quality, safe dishes that you can freeze AND bake in. After searching long and hard, I highly recommend using this container:

8×8 Glass Baking Dish with TrueFit Lid

A few reasons I like this pan:

  1. Glass is a natural, non-porous material.
  2. Glass cookware doubles as food storageware.
  3. Glass is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
  4. The clear lid allows easy visibility to your food.
  5. Because they are oven and microwave proof, you can cook, heat, and store your food all in one dish.
  6. Flat top allows for easy stacking.
  7. They are affordable.

A few other freezer meal storage options are…

BPA-free freezer zip-top bags* – These work well for some frozen foods, like meat in marinades, muffins, and even soups. They do not work so well for casseroles.

Disposable aluminum pans with lids – These are particularly helpful when making a frozen meal to give away to a friend or someone in need, but aluminum can react to acidic food (like tomato sauce) and leave a unwelcome taste behind. So, we do not recommend using these for long-term storage most of the time.

*Important Note: Be sure to let your foods cool completely before putting them in plastic containers to avoid chemicals being released into your food.

Who will be the administrator? The larger your group is, the more helpful it is to have one person to be the administrator. This person will keep track of who is making what meal, keep the meeting moving along, send out email reminders, etc. You can even rotate who does this everyone once in a while.

how to start a freezer club

How will we evaluate meals? Our group determined early on to be really open to feedback each month. This is the only way to get better at what you’re doing and determine which meals are the very best freezer meals. To evaluate, we decided to vote at each meeting about the previous month’s meals and simply say if we want them again or not (or offer suggestions to make a meal work better next time, if we thought it had future potential). It sounds hardcore, I know. But, we all understood that everyone has different preferences and that we all have flops from time to time. The advantage of evaluating is that you can remake the successful ones again and again. The Google Doc we used to vote and keep track of our “successes” is our Homerun List, which you are welcome to download (just click HERE) and use.

Where Can We Find Freezer Meal Recipes That Work for a Freezer Club?

We wrote a cookbook just for you called From Freezer to Table, where we lay out the basics of freezer cooking, how to start a Freezer Club, and include 75+ of our favorite freezer meals recipes.

Rachel and Polly with cookbook

Every recipe in our book is well-tested, made with whole food ingredients, and family-friendly. We’re proud to say we’ve now sold over 16,000 copies and it still ranks as 5-stars on Amazon. We know you’ll love it! Take a peek inside here…

Buy our cookbook here now.

We also have a large collection of family-friendly, easy freezer meals right HERE on Thriving Home for you. 

70+ healthy freezer meals with instructions. Recipes your family will actually eat! |Thriving Home

Motivated to start a Freezer Club now? Questions about starting a Freezer Club? I’m happy to help! Please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond quickly.

*I am indebted to my friends Darcie and Carla for helping start, guide, and keep our Freezer Club going for so many years. This post would NOT be possible without their wisdom and friendship.

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60 replies
  1. Bec says:

    Hi, this never occurred to me before! I love to cook, but I know many older single/coupled ladies who hate it. I’m new to my area, and think this might be an interesting way to meet new people and get better meals for others too.

  2. Heather Swarthout says:

    Hello Rachel! I have a few friends that live close to me and I know they would love to do a freezer meal club. I’m not sure how to go about doing it, and I want to make sure I have the money to do so! My biggest fear is organizing a meal plan and spending way over my budget, or spending under and not having enough to complete the meals. Any suggestions?

    • Rachel says:

      Three important things come to mind in response to your questions:

      1) Have a group conversation at the get-go about finances and about how much you want to spend on meals and some of the other details I outline in this article. A price range and serving amount is helpful to establish (i.e. $8-10 per meal, which is 4 large servings) so everyone has the same expectations.

      2) I would suggest having everyone police themselves when it comes to how much they spend, instead of dividing expenses. That way you have control over your own budget and you can be thrifty with finding sales/couponing/buying in bulk. That being said, it’s nice to rotate around the more expensive meals from month to month, if you want to do say salmon or steak regularly.

      3) Stock up on chicken breasts or pork tenderloins, etc, when they go on sale and then suggesting a recipe for that type of meat.

      4) You may just have to grab a group and all commit to a trial period to see if it works for your family, that way everyone has an out after say 3 months if it’s not working for your family’s needs.

      5) Some of the cheapest and best freezer meals are meatless baked pastas, soups, and simple marinaded meats, which often don’t cost that much in the end.

      Does that help at all?

  3. monica binns says:

    I am starting a Freezer Club for the new moms in my area. Can I please get a copy of your google docs as well? Any other help and advice would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Farrow says:

    OMG! This is an awesome idea! I have been doing freezer meals for my family for a few months now, but I never considered starting a group! :0 So, now I have contacted my cousin to see what she thinks of starting a freezer group. This post covers everything that we will have to discuss and work out to make it work for the long haul (which is the plan). Thanks so so so much for sharing this post and your experiences with this! It’s a great inspiration!!

    • Rachel says:

      You’re welcome. Let me know if you have more questions. Also, we did a whole series about Freezer Meal Parties, if you wanted to start there. And we have several party plans, which you could use for Freezer Club, too. Check out the Freezer Meal tab on our Navigation bar.

      • Farrow says:

        Oh WOW! I didn’t even know all those freezer links were there! I came across this specific post via Pinterest, and Loved the idea. I hadn’t really taken the time to explore your site very much. Thanks for letting me know all of it was there! I can definitely use it!

    • Farrow says:

      P.S. Another thing I would suggest discussing to avoid confusion is to decide early on whether the group prepares main dishes only or a whole meal (casserole/one dish meal/crockpot).

  5. Erica says:

    Hi Ladies, I love freezer cooking and have done it for years. I moved and currently do not have a solid friend base in my location , but would love to make some with similar Interests. I wanted to know if you feel setting up a meetup group to find others to join a freezer group would be a great way to start.

    • Rachel says:

      That’s an interesting idea. How would you coordinate a meet up? I know being in Freezer Club was a way I developed friendships with other ladies I didn’t know so well, so I’m sure it would be a nice way to meet some others with similar interests.

  6. Rhea says:

    I would love your Google Docs! I am just getting this off the ground with some friends and even though we are doing it a little differently the guidelines are what we need to discuss!

  7. Lori says:

    Love this idea and would love to get this started with a few friends. Don’t know why I’m not understanding, but each person just does 1-2 meals and then swaps? Would you mind sending me Google Docs.

  8. Vanessa says:

    I’m in love with your website and can’t wait to start a freezer club! Would you mind emailing me the Google Docs you use to organize your club?
    Also, is this the only freezer cooking you did? Meaning did you cook for your group and then also do meals separately for your own family? My husband works at three fire stations, I work full time, we own a small business, and have a 4 month old. I love cooking but have trouble finding the time, so it seems we eat a lot of sodium packed meals. I would love to come up with a plan to prepare our meals in a more healthy way while also making them easier and quicker to eat! I don’t think I could devote an entire day to cooking freezer meals, but a few hours every Sunday, I could do that! Is that what you did? Thanks so much for your help and again, I love your site!

  9. Nikki says:

    I have been loving your site but wish I had read through all of your tips sooner! A good friend and I started a club last month and thought we’d just talk about our details at the swap, she just told her people that meals should be at least 75% organic and then at the meeting I offered to get meat at Costco to get organic a little cheaper. Some people sort of made it clear they don’t care about organic but would get it because some of us insist. Well, it seems one person for the second month in a row is doing a meal without meat. I’m all for a Meatless Monday thing, but how do I tactfully bring up that it’s not fair for 6 other people to make a meal with some meat 2 months in a row for her and get veggies, rice and beans in return? This is someone who is closer to my friend who I started the club with, so I’m feeling awkward about it all. One of my other friends already commented about how last month we all made meat and this girl made veggies and rice, and I said we could wait to see if it was a pattern or if she’d make something a little more substantial this month. Well, it seems she’s considering making another meatless meal. I think it should be a rotating thing, almost like your idea of the pricier things, that we take turns each month doing the meatless dish but don’t know how to make that proposition?

    • Rachel says:

      I know, it’s so tricky isn’t it? We had to broach similar things over the years, especially when several of us decided to start eating less processed foods. What do you think about printing off this post and suggesting that your group read and discuss it just to preemptively get everyone on the same page? Maybe you could suggest that you all create a few general guidelines for the group, such as rotating the different kinds of meals that are made (seafood, vegetarian, steak, etc) just so cost is evened out. You might also discuss what to do about the organic vs. non-organic discussion and see if you can reach a consensus. I would strongly recommend doing this before getting any further down the path. It only gets harder to have this discussion the longer you go. But, as a P.S., I would also say that it’s important to really extend grace to one another. Remember, overall you’re saving each other time and money and building friendships. And everyone is learning how to cook this way. Some meals will be flops, some people will spend more than others some months, etc. It’s part of the messiness of a group like this. But, overall, my guess is that it will be helpful to you. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

  10. Sonya Wilson says:

    Hi, I just wanted to tell you both how much I love your freezer ideas 🙂 I have only just found it as have just ‘discovered’ freezer cooking. I work full time, run my own private practice / website outside of work hours and will also be doing post grad study all through this year and identified that the first thing to fall off my list when am tired and stressed is… cooking dinner / making lunches and man its expensive buying 3 meals a day at my work cafeteria!
    If you have any other parts of your site that you think could help me — would love to hear about it!
    Also – love the layout of your site — so easy to navigate 🙂
    Thanks again

  11. Grace says:

    Inspired by your website, a few friends and I are starting a freezer club. Would I be able to get a copy of your google docs? Thank you so very much!

    • Rachel says:

      We had multi-sized families in our group. We all decided to do meals with four servings, because most recipes are for four. However, when it came time to trade meals, the bigger families would often make swaps with others so they could get double of one or two of the meals (so 8 servings of the same meal). My friends with bigger families also tended to use the 4 serving frozen meals on a night when they would have a “buffet dinner” of sorts, offering their fam a few different options. Another idea you could do is everyone could make and swap 8 servings (or two 8×8 pans) of the same meal. The main thing is to get on the same page so it’s fair for everyone involved.

  12. Grace Baker says:

    I’m starting a freezer club with some friends too! I’m not as administratively savvy either. I would greatly appreciate an email with the Google docs. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  13. suzanne ciccarelli says:

    Hi, I loved reading your blog and other entries on freezer club. I am trying to start a freezer/recipe/baking club in my neighborhood. I looked on this entire site but couldn’t find any downloadable worksheets or the like that you may have found helpful over the years…check lists, criteria sheets for voting on the merits of a dish etc… Are there any “administrator” type pages you all have used to assist you?
    And second, Do you have any larger or significantly smaller families in your group and how do you compensate for the need for additional servings or the latter? We have a family of 9, seven teenagers, and they eat a lot, but the average family in my group would be 4-6 people, a few with only 3 people.
    Many thanks for your time and God Bless.

  14. Darci Dougherty says:

    Thank you for this great post! I am really excited to try a freezer meal club, but I think I will just start with family at first. They are more forgiving if it goes wrong! =) Would you mind emailing me your google docs? I would really like to use them as a jumping off point!

  15. Leisha Kent says:

    Thanks so much for the great inspiration! I too, am in MO and would love to start a freezer club for busy moms. I am a mom of six who homeschools and my time is super limited! I too, would love to be emailed any of the information that would help us get started. Thanks so much for your inspiration, motivation and knowledge: )

  16. Buffy says:

    What if there are varying family sizes? For instance I have 6 in my family and a friend I am thinking about doing this with has only four. A 4 serving size meal doesn’t do me much good…a six person serving size would be WAY too much for htem since their kids are little. Any suggestions?

    • Rachel says:

      Good question. We had varying sizes of families, too. So, we settled on doing four servings. It’s easiest to cook meals in bulk that require 4 servings because most recipes are for 4-8 servings. For those who had bigger families, they would either trade a meal with someone else to get double of some of theirs. Or, they would just serve their 4 serving meals to their bigger family along with something else on those nights. A lot of us would actually use these meals for lunches or busy grab and go nights, when not everyone was actually home.

  17. Kathy says:

    I would love a copy of the google docs as well. It’s a huge blessing not to have to reinvent the wheel! Thanks for sharing all your great tips and recipes.

  18. Alyson says:

    May I also have a copy of your google docs? I’ve wanted to start a freezer meal group for a while but the organization part seems overwhelming. This will give me a great head start!

  19. elizabeth scholes says:

    I would love your google docs if you’re willing to share. My friend and I have done two marathon freezer cooking sessions but we like the idea of this better, plus we have a working mom friend who always misses out because we do our marathon during the weekday. This way she could join in the fun too! Thanks for the detailed post and all the yummy recipe ideas. Already made starbucks sandwiches and they were great! I also made the chicken parm casserole last week. My kids weren’t as big of fans but my husband and I loved it.

  20. Kathleen says:

    Such great ideas! Do you have a link to the google docs? I have a group considering this idea and any tools would help us get things going. Thanks for sharing:)

  21. Laura says:

    Love the this Idea, Im going to start one too, any chance I could also get a copy of the google docs?

    thanks so much for sharing this great Idea! 🙂

  22. Tricia says:

    Thanks for the great information! In the process of starting our own freezer club. Would you be able to email the google documents That you have made up, so I can have a starting point. Or are they on your page but didn’t see them. Thanks for all your hard work.

  23. Jenny says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the advice. I am getting started on this with a friend and I hope it is successful. I’m excited.
    I do have one question. In books that I’ve been reading about this some people say to stop the cooking time short in order to not over cook your food during reheat. What are your thoughts on this? Did you follow this rule or have an overcook problem?

  24. Claire says:

    Hey Rachel – Thank you so much for sharing this! I am inspired to get a group started with my friends! I noticed in an earlier comment that you talked about doing a post sharing everything you put in your Google docs. Any chance you’ve done that yet? If so, can you tell me how to get to it? Thanks again…you’re awesome!!

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Claire. You’re right I did mention that, but then I realized that the google docs we have may not be as helpful as i thought. I’m not sure if they are transferable to others or not. But I will gladly email them to you! Maybe they will give you a starting point. I’m glad you found the post helpful and please reach out if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help.

  25. Erin H says:

    With motivation and guidance from your post, we are starting a busy moms freezer club. I am wondering a little more about the portion sizes you recommend for the meat in a recipe. Can you provide more info on amounts of meats in each dish that would keep it fair for everyone? Thanks!

    • Rachel says:

      Sure! I copied and pasted straight from our original Google doc about our portion sizes. I hope this helps and let me know if you need anything else.

      Soups – Gallon Bags – 8 cups
      Pancakes/Waffles – 12
      Wraps/Burritos – 8
      Stew/Chili – Bags or Pans – 8 cups
      Burgers – 1/3-1/2 lb. per burger, 4-6 burgers
      Pulled Pork/Mexican Pot Roast Tacos/BBQ Beef/Asian Lettuce Wraps, etc. – Fill the pan using the recipe as a guideline (do our best to make what the recipe says is 4 servings), but if we come a little short we talk about it the next round and try to adjust.
      Chicken Breasts – 4 per family (1.5-2 lbs.) when they are the main part of the meal. If it is cut up in pasta, use whatever the right portion would be based on the recipe if it’s in a dish.
      Chicken Strips – equal to 4 breasts (1.5-2 lbs.)
      Pork Chops – 4 totaling 1.5-2 lbs
      Pork Tenderloin – 1.75-2 lbs. per family
      Steak – 2 lbs. per family unless recipe states otherwise
      Ribs – 3+ lbs. per family – baby back
      French Dip – enough for 4 generous sandwich servings plus 2 cups au jus per pan (little over half of pan)
      Pastas/Casseroles – Fill the pan
      Salmon – 6 oz. per serving or 1.5 lbs. per family
      Tilapia – 6 oz. per serving or 1.5 lbs. per family, approx. 7 fillets
      Shrimp – 1.5 lbs. per family

  26. Rachel says:

    Hi Mid-Mo Amanda! I went back and looked at all the Google docs that my highly administrative (and that’s even an understatement) friend, Carla, created for our group. I might have to do a post and share all that we’ve put together there. But for now, here are the docs we had for our bigger group to keep things running smoothly. Do NOT let this overwhelm you. You definitely don’t need to have all this to start a group.

    – Freezer Club Guidelines – your values, quantity/serving size guidelines, preparation guidelines (what to trade your meal in, how to label it, do not include dry pasta/rice, etc)
    – Home Run List – this was an excel document where we listed all the recipes and placed an “x” next to it if we wanted to have it again; the list was sorted by the most amounts of votes, so we always knew which recipes were our favorites
    – We also had everyone create a Google doc in our Freezer Club folder with the recipes they prepared typed out and any special notes about their preparation. Many people went so far as to create a shopping list for the next person. This kept all of our recipes in one convenient location, so we could access them again and again.
    – Monthly Meal Plan – This had everyone’s name on it and what two meals they were assigned, in case anyone forgot during the month. It was also a good reference so we could vary the menu from month to month.

    I hope that helps some. Did that answer your question?

  27. Amanda says:

    I came across this idea on Pinterest and really want to give it a try. Thanks so much for sharing! Any tips on creating Google docs to start out with? Also happened to notice you are from Mid-Mo, as am I 🙂

  28. Emily M says:

    I started a freezer club in my little group of friends this winter. We do ours a little differently, because the group varies each time and the size of each family is drastically different. We meet once a month or every two months at our church kitchen (most of my group members belong to my church) one evening and put together our meals.

    I am the administrator and each month we choose meals 5-8 depending on how much prep goes into each meal. The first month, 5 people gave me a recipe. The 2nd time, I chose all 8 of the recipes- all were crock pot recipes. I then sent out an email to the group members (Facebook group) with the recipes.

    About 2 weeks before our meeting day I send out a grocery list with all the ingredients needed if you were to do all the recipes. Some families choose to do only some of them and others (like me) double certain recipes so they have more. Each person in the group is responsible for bringing all the ingredients they need for their meals. This includes the groceries and containers (mostly ziplock bags) to store the meals. I really like doing it this way, because I am a bargain shopper and stock up, so I try to shop my cupboards and freezers and not buy much if I can help it. But others in our group don’t bargain shop– so it’s nice that we each can use our own budget to make the meals.

    The day of the cooking we meet in the evening at the church and we each put together our family’s meals. Last time we made 8 different meals in about 2 hours (start to finish including clean up). Then we each take our meals home and freeze them!

    Friends of mine belong to a large cooking group at a local (to them) HyVee grocery store, where they make all the meals for the whole group in one evening and then swap the meals. The store actually does their shopping for them, as I understand it and they just put everything together. Not the most frugal way to do it, but I know my friends feel like it helps them eat healthier and probably in the long run saves them money, because they eat out less.

    • Rachel says:

      Wow, what a cool idea. I imagine the community factor makes this fun for your group at church, too. Thanks for sharing two more unique ways to save money by cooking with friends, Emily!

    • Ana says:

      Emily, I’m having a hard time understanding how you guys cook your meals. I understand you each bring your own ingredients but how do you cook them? Do you still swap meals?

    • Rachel says:

      Another great question that I should probably go back and address in the questions portion. It is important to discuss cost upfront with your group. However, I don’t have a tidy answer based on my experience. Everyone in our group shopped differently. Some were bargain grocery hunters and didn’t spend as much because they were better at finding sales and buying in bulk. Others of us were last minute shoppers. We decided we didn’t want to penalize people for being better shoppers. So, we never made a hard-fast rule about how much to spend per meal, although a suggestion was about $8-10 (our meals cost more because of the local/organic meat and produce). What we tried to do was mentally keep track of the kind of meals we prepared each time and rotate who did the more expensive meals. So, for instance, we always had salmon on the menu. But Wild Salmon was one of the more expensive meals, so we rotated who did that one each time. Or, if I did a more expensive meal one month, I would be sure to bring cheaper meal ideas the next month. Bottom line: discuss it with your group and try to come to a consensus initially. You may have to tweak what you decide, but it’s nice to have a starting place. In the end, if you stick with your Freezer Club and rotate who does what kind of meals, it will all even out eventually. Remember, you’re saving money just by cooking this way.

  29. Patty says:

    What do you do about foods people don’t like or are allergic to? For example, I can’t stand green peppers. If a food has green peppers in it then the entire dish is ruined for me (if you pick them out, the flavor is still there). Do your groups have a list of foods not to use or foods not to put in one member’s items?

    • Rachel says:

      That is a question that came up a lot in our group. Some people liked olives, some didn’t, for example. There are a few ways to handle this: 1) We would just verbally talk about that at our meeting, if a recipe came up that someone knew their family wouldn’t like. Sometimes a person said, “I’ll just make 5 meals with olives and 2 without and put your names on the ones without olives.” If a member is willing to go the extra mile, great. 2) If it was a huge hassle to change the recipe for a few members, then a lot of times we’d just pass on that meal. 3) Another thing to consider is that the bigger your group is, the more you have to compromise sometimes. So, at times I might just say, “oh well, we’ll just pick out or eat around the olives” on this one since everyone else likes olives. 4) Lastly, it would certainly be helpful to have a list of foods you want to avoid in a Google doc or on a sheet that everyone has.

  30. Monica says:

    Love this list. I’d like to include a link back to this post for a book I’m writing for moms who have just had a baby. OK with you? Do you want to include anything other than a link in the book?

    Thanks so much!

    • Rachel says:

      Sure, Monica. We’d love to be a link in your book. Thank you for asking! You’re welcome to use the top image, too, if you’re like. We’ve also got a post with 60+ freezer meal recipes that could be helpful for new moms, too.