While I love to cook, sometimes working solo in the kitchen can get boring and feel a lot like work, especially when prepping several meals for the week. My solution? Turn it into a party! As my friends are all busy working moms, I don’t get to catch up with them as often as I’d like. So prepping a bunch of freeze-ahead meals, catching up and throwing in some wine and snacks seemed like an easy win-win for everyone.
The basic idea behind freeze-ahead meals is simple. You prep all the raw ingredients, put them into re-sealable bags and freeze. When you’re ready to cook the meal, simply thaw the bag in the fridge overnight and then dump all the contents into a slow cooker in the morning. Hello easy worknight meal!
Want to get on board with your friends? Make the prep work fun by throwing a party!
How to Throw a Freeze Ahead Meal Prep Party
After organizing the date, everyone invited submitted 1-2 slow cookers recipes to me beforehand. As we were unsure how much time it would take to prep each recipe, we decided to make 5 different meals.
Not sure what recipes to choose? Here are a couple that would work well:
- Mexican Sweet Potato Chili
- White Bean Spinach Stew
- Indian Spiced Coconut Curry
- BBQ Pineapple Tofu
- Sloppy Joes
One rainy Sunday, we all got together at my house. I had already gone through the recipes, quadrupled each and made a master shopping list. Three of us headed down to the grocery store and within an hour and just over $200 in groceries we set off back home. We were all pretty shocked at the low grocery bill. One friend remarked, “Wow, eating more veggies is a lot cheaper!”
Once we got home and had a quick lunch we got to work. We decided to complete one recipe at a time (split into 4 freezer bags) and then move on to the next. We split up the jobs so three of us where chopping veggies and one person was prepping the bags and filling them with the ingredients and seasonings. Once one recipe was done, we put all the bags into the fridge and moved onto the next recipe. This seemed to be a fairly efficient method and we got through 5 recipes AND clean-up within 3 hours. With shopping time, that is approximately 4 hours for 20 meals!
My conclusion? Friends making food together is fun, social and productive. The ultimate multitask. I highly recommend it if you are looking to reconnect with friends while checking a few things off your to-do list.
I promise, your friends will be game
Here’s what my friend Janine thought:
“I really enjoyed making the freezer meals; it made me feel like I was being productive while still getting to spend time with friends. Weekends are so busy and I usually have to make a choice: hang out with friends or get some meals ideas ready for the week. Or cram everything into one day so that I can be social the next. Being able to do both simultaneously felt really good.
“I liked the fact that we could make slight modifications to each person’s family preferences. More spice, less spice, etc. So even though we were all making the same meals in a large batch, we were able to make these modifications really easily.
“It was great to get ideas from your friends about ingredients they’ve used before and what might be nice to add to or leave out of a recipe. Agreeing on adding spices, extra vegetables, garlic, etc., was another benefit of cooking this way, as your friends experience with these ingredients and or recipes can be beneficial to you at that moment.”
Final Tips for a Successful Freeze Ahead Meal Prep Party:
- Make a master shopping list before heading to the store and stick to it. You want to have as few overages or underages as possible.
- Try to keep your workspace clean and organized between recipes. About halfway in things got a bit cluttered and we had one bag spill. An organized kitchen is an efficient kitchen.
- Label the bags with the name of the recipe, cooking time, and any special instructions (adding liquid, etc.), plus the recipe name.
- Try something new! This is a great time to shake up your routine and try some new dishes.
Do you meal prep? What tips do you have to share?