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The BEST Instant Pot Vegetable Soup {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is filled to the brim with hearty vegetables, black beans, and barley. It provides the nutrition you need this winter to boost your immune system and fight off sickness plus amazing taste that will make you want to lick the bowl clean.

Why is this the very best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup, you ask?

For starters, you’ll slurp up the very best healthy, vegetable-based foods that are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and more PLUS enjoy incredible taste in one bowl. I have a hard time stopping eating this soup…but, hey, that’s not a bad problem to have when it’s this good for you! I love that it’s filling and will satisfy even the meat-lover in your life. (I’m looking at you, hubs).

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

You’ll begin building flavor with the classic combination of sautéed onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, which you’ll season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. The red pepper adds a hint of heat in the background that helps to clear the sinuses. (At the end, you’ll stir in kale, which melts into the soup adding the nutritional powerhouse of greens but not adversely affecting the taste.)

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Then, you’ll throw in vegetable broth (I prefer organic) and fire-roasted tomatoes into the Instant Pot. Fire-roasted tomatoes are my go-to type in soups, because they have a notably more complex flavor than just regular ole diced tomatoes. They add in Vitamin C, fiber, and are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, which is shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration (poor eyesight as you get older). Whoop-whoop!

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Heartiness and fiber comes from the black beans and barley in this vegetable soup. At the store, look for pearl barley, which is one of the cheapest whole grains you can find. I found it in the bulk bin in the health food section. The barley holds its texture well in the soup, which surprised me the first time I tested this. It’s does much better than pasta or orzo, which can get mushy pretty quickly. I am officially a pearl barley fan.

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Lastly, bay leaves and the coveted Parmesan rind (the outside edge of a Parmesan wedge) take this brothy soup to new horizons. Vegans can omit the optional Parmesan rind, but it sure adds depth to the soup that’s hard to replicate. Just ask the cheese counter to cut you off a piece of rind, if you don’t want to invest in a wedge. Mine was less than $2.

The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

Time to fill your pot and get cooking the BEST Instant Pot vegetable soup, in my humble opinion. Bonus: you can freeze this soup in small quantities after it’s done to warm up for quick, healthy lunches in the future, too.

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The Best Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

The BEST Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 19 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is filled to the brim with hearty vegetables, black beans, and barley. It provides the nutrition you need this winter to boost your immune system and fight off sickness plus amazing taste that will make you want to lick the bowl clean.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 34 celery ribs, sliced
  • 34 medium carrots, sliced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) all-natural vegetable broth (sub: chicken broth)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup pearl barley (sub: 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1 (2-3 inch) Parmesan rind*
  • 23 cups chopped kale, packed (sub: chopped baby spinach)
  • Optional Toppings: grated Parmesan cheese*, fresh chopped parsley

*omit if making a Dairy-Free version


Instructions

  1. Turn on the Saute function and heat the oil. Saute the onions, celery, and carrots, stirring frequently, until the vegetables softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, to taste, as they cook. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes the last 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, barley, bay, and Parm rind, and stir to combine.(Option 1 freezing instructions begin here.) 
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release when done. Remove the bay leaves and Parm rind (or leave the rind to add more flavor as it sits, if you want). 
  4. Stir in the kale and let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, until softened. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts, to taste. 
  5. Serve warm in individual bowls, and top with Parmesan cheese and parsley as desired.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Follow Steps 1-2. Transfer the uncooked soup to a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze. Tip: Place freezer bag in a bowl until frozen to freeze in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Method 2 (After Cooking): You can also fully cook this soup, freeze in small portions for individual meals, and rewarm in the microwave or stove top. Or you can fully cook it, freeze the whole recipe in a round container or freezer bag. Tip: Place the freezer bag in a round container in the freezer until it freezes in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Prepare From Frozen:

Method 1 (Before Cooking): Turn on the Sauté function. Sauté the frozen soup for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12-15 minutes at high pressure and use a quick release. Follow Steps 4-5.

Method 2 (After Cooking):

For individual portions, thaw and warm up the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop.

For an entire frozen batch, drop the frozen soup block in the Instant Pot and saute for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Then, lock and seal the lid and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes with a quick release. 

50+ Ways to Sneak Vegetables and Fruits into Kid Favorites

By Rachel Tiemeyer

healthy recipes kids like

I’m a big believer in offering my kids fruits and vegetables at every meal. Research has definitively shown that if you keep offering and keep offering, children will eventually try the produce you put in front of them. I know from experience! It does work, but it takes months and sometimes years of diligence.

While we wait for the “lightbulb” moment when our kids will try and like fruit and vegetables, though, how can we get that much needed nutrition into them regularly?

One of the ways I ensure my kiddos, who can certainly be picky at times, are getting enough produce is to sneak extra fruits and veggies into just about every meal. It’s been a fun challenge for me over the years to figure out all the ways I can do this.

In fact, our cookbook called From Freezer to Table, is full of over 75 rigorously tested, whole foods freezer meals that are all family-friendly. We even put an icon by the recipes that have “Sneaky Nutrition” in them.

Learn to prepare delicious, healthy, stress-free meals for the family that go from freezer to table in no time!

The best part is that you can make these meals ahead and freeze them to have on hand later. Here are some of my kids’ favorites from the book that are chock full of nutrition…

Super Stuffed Potatoes from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook (copyrighted)

Tomato Bisque from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.Cheddar Chive Burgers from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook. Order at FromFreezerToTable.com today.

You can read more about and snag a copy of our beautiful cookbook here. Your family will love it!

Now, I’m excited to share with you 50 more ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into kid favorites. Most of these can be made ahead and frozen for later, too!

 50+ Recipes That Sneak Fruits and Vegetables Into Kid Favorites

1. Blueberry Avocado MuffinsBlueberry Avocado Muffins with Lemon Streusel Topping

2. Herbalicious Chicken Bites

chicken meatballs with honey mustard sauce

3. Sweet Potato French Toast

healthy sweet potato french toast

4. Pumpkin French Toast

5. Add pumpkin puree or finely chopped spinach our homemade Slow Cooker Marinara.

slow cooker marinara sauce recipe

6. Pumpkin Banana Bread or Muffins

7. Creamy Autumn Chowder

Autumn Chowder Soup recipe

8. Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato

A better mac and cheese with sneaky sweet potato

9. Sweet Potato Quick Biscuits

Sweet Potato Quick Biscuits

10. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

11. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal is an easy and healthy breakfast or snack. It is a great family recipe and ideal for large groups!

12. Slow Cooker Easy Cheesy Mexican Chicken

Easy Cheesy Mexican Chicken - A delicious and healthy slow cooker recipe!

13. Cheddar Chive Egg Bites

egg muffins in a muffin tin

From Freezer to Table Cookbook

14. Whole Wheat Chocolate Pumpkin Waffles

15. Blueberry Pumpkin Baked French Toast

16. Dark Chocolate Banana Baked Oatmeal

This dark chocolate banana baked oatmeal is sure to be a crowd pleaser! With fresh ingredients and a rich, chocolatey taste, this dish pairs perfectly with fresh fruit. You won't even be able to taste the sneaky spinach!

17. Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Meatloaf Muffins on a plate

18. Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

These may be healthier than mashed potatoes, but these Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes will have your family coming back for more! #realfood #freezermeal #delicious

19. Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

20. Mini Italian Burgers

21. Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

Slow Cooker Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna

22. The Best Everyday Smoothie

The Best Everyday Smoothie Ever - Our family never gets tired of this delicious combination of juice, milk, fresh spinach, and tons of fruit.

23. Baked Chicken Fajitas

One of my favorite, family friendly dinners: Baked Chicken Fajita Recipe--Freezer Friendly.

24. Whole Wheat Calzones (add chopped spinach or whatever veggies your kids like)

These Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Calzones are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. One of our favorite recipes ever!

25. Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Spinach Lasagna Rolls are the perfect meal for large groups. With fresh and natural ingredients, it also makes a great freezer meal!

26. Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini

Baked Cheesy Spinach Tortellini

27. Cheeseburger Instant Pot Pasta

28. Chicken Pesto Pasta

29. Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

mini chicken burger recipe

30. Zucchini Flaxseed Muffins

31. Zucchini Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Breakfast Cookies

32. Zucchini Pizza Crust

Zucchini Pizza Crust: Seriously, it's good! What a great way to sneak in veggies to your dinner too.

33. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Squash (or Zucchini) Cake

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Squash Cake

34. Chocolate Zucchini Waffles

Chocolate Waffle recipe with zucchini

35. Whole Grain Zucchini Pancakes

36. Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

37. Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups

Fruit Pizza Roll-Ups recipe: An easy lunch for kids!

38. Banana Boat

The Banana Boat: The perfect after school snack!

39. Banana Bites

40. Flourless Blender Banana Muffins

Flourless Banana Muffin Recipe

41. Pesto Burgers

42. Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce

This fried rice with sweet soy sauce recipe is AMAZING. It's packed with nutritious ingredients and serves as a delicious side dish. It's also surprisingly freezer friendly!

43. Chocolate Banana Pumpkin Muffins

These Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Muffins are packed full of nutrition and flavor. Feel good about feeding your family these for a quick breakfast!

44. Chicken, Veggie, and Brown Rice Casserole

Chicken, Brown Rice, & Veggie Casserole

45. Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal

Delicious and healthy! Make this baked oatmeal ahead of time for a warm and comforting breakfast the whole family will love. Double and freeze an extra one for later, too. #freezermeal #realfood

46. Whole Wheat Cinnamon Applesauce Bread

47. Power Breakfast Smoothie

48. Chocomole (chocolate pudding make from avocado!)

49. Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies

Delicious meatball recipe for either subs or to go on pasta. Not only are the meatballs super flavorful, but they are also packed with veggies! Make a freezer meal out of them by doubling the batch and freezing them (uncooked).

50. Super Sloppy Joes

Super Sloppy Joes - A much healthier and tastier version of the canned stuff!

51. Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

Looking for more healthy, kid-friendly meals? Try these 30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

4 Cheese Baked Penne Pasta {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer
4 Cheese Penne Pasta with whole wheat pasta is a healthier baked pasta that comes together quickly.

You can never go wrong with a baked pasta in my humble opinion. It feeds a crowd and typically pleases even the pickiest of eaters. Polly makes a phenomenal Hearty Baked Penne Pasta, but I wanted something a little cheaper, a tad lighter, and something I could throw together in minutes. 4 Cheese Baked Penne Pasta was just that.

4 Cheese Penne Pasta with whole wheat pasta is a healthier baked pasta that comes together quickly.

With some ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and feta cheeses in the fridge, I came up with this simple and tasty 4 Cheese Baked Penne Pasta. It’s made with whole wheat pasta, your favorite all-natural marinara sauce (mine is Newman’s Own Organic Marinara), and a simple cheese filling. Serve alongside some steamed broccoli and your favorite fruit for a well-rounded and fast weeknight dinner.

4 Cheese Penne Pasta with whole wheat pasta is a healthier baked pasta that comes together quickly.

Be sure to use your time wisely by doubling the recipe, making two 8×8 casseroles, and freezing one for another dinner later. That’s my kind of freezer cooking! To find 70+ more healthy freezer meal recipes, be sure to check out our index here.

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Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition!

Disclaimer: This recipe was created in partnership with Frigidaire Gallery®. But the opinions are all ours! 

I could eat these super healthy Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves hot or cold, I tell ya. They really aren’t just for kids, although my three children gobbled them up with a side of ketchup tonight. I’m glad I doubled the recipe, so I can freeze half of them for another night. Snaps for #freezermeals, eh?!

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition! #realfood #freezermeal #healthy

Here’s the other thing: If you have a hard time getting enough vegetables into your family, these mini meatloaves are also a winning way to sneak some extra nutrition in (which you may know I’m a fan of). I would suggest using the food processor to chop the vegetables finely, if you have some suspicious kiddos. Give your munchkins a good squirt of ketchup for dipping purposes and you’re good to go!

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition! #realfood #freezermeal #healthy

I served our Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves up with a twice baked potato, steamed broccoli, and some strawberries. Want to really hit a homerun when it comes to the sneaky nutrition, though? Try a side of Cream Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes. You’ll have just fed your kids zucchini, carrots, onion, and sweet potatoes in one delicious meal. Boom!

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These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition!

Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in lots of extra nutrition!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (about one small onion)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (about one carrot)
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini (squeeze out excess liquid with hands)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs 99% fat free ground turkey
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (or whole wheat panko)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all natural ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, crushed in hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed in hand (or dried oregano)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack over the sheet (baking rack keeps bottoms from burning and allows drippings to fall below.) Grease baking rack generously with cooking spray.
  2. In a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, sauté vegetables in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Lightly season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste while they sauté. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine cooled vegetable mixture, ground turkey, egg, panko, 1/4 cup ketchup, broth, garlic powder, parsley, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Do not over mix.
  4. Gently scoop out a heaping, loosely packed 1/2 cup of meat mixture for each meatloaf. Gently form into a patty that’s evenly about 1 1/2 inches thick. Do not press down hard on mixture to avoid compacting it. Top each mini meatloaf with about 2 teaspoons ketchup, spreading around on top evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the middle is no longer pink.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Bake and let cool completely. Seal in freezer bag or container, squeezing out all the air. Freeze up to 2 months.

To Prepare: Thaw in refrigerator overnight and reheat in microwave, using a lower power setting, just until warmed through. Or if reheating from frozen, use the defrost setting on the microwave.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 meatloaf

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

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

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means we get a small commission if you make a purchase through one at no additional cost to you. Read more here.

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.

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 local news station did a story on our Freezer Club several years ago. The clip will give you more of the story behind our group.

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.