Again, per my friend, R's request, a post regarding time savers and practical tips for busy moms and wives-
Actually, my friend, R, is behind this post literally. R and I used to work together at the same school. And we used to share a lunchtime. So often we'd be in the teacher's lounge, eating whatever we managed to rescue from the refrigerator. At that time, R would often pack items that came from a freezer cooking swap that she participated in, one that was located in another town. The low down was as follows:
1. You are assigned one recipe to purchase groceries for and then prepare.
2. You assemble one recipe for every person who is doing the swap.
3. You show up the day of your swap with your food, give the other participants the dish you have prepared, and then have those participants each give you a dish they have prepared.
4. All of it is frozen and ready to thaw out and use as needed.
After a couple years, I told R that I would be really interested in doing a group like that if there was enough interest in the local area. So this fall, R took organized a group. It's a bit more detailed than the description I posted above.
1. Each month, those who have indicated an interest in the group receive an email from R asking if they are going to participate. In our group, the numbers fluctuate each month. For me, doing it every other months is about right. Others do it every month or only occassionally. New members are always welcome.
2. After everyone responds, R assigns each person a recipe. The recipes come from her previous experience so hopefully they are yummy. She also tells you the names of the other participants and their dish.
3. You have about 3 weeks to purchase your ingredients and assemble your dish. You need to know amount you spent on all of your groceries. You also need to label the meals with the title of the recipe. Since you know the names of the other participants for the month, you should also label the meals with their names. (ie a name on each meal)
4. About a week prior to the exchange, R sends out another email asking for the total amount you spent and reminding you of the date and time.
5. Everyone responds to R with the total they spent and she then averages the totals so that she knows what the cost per participant was. R then figures out if your total was more or less than the average cost per participant and emails you telling you if you spent more or less than the average cost. If you spent less, you are asked to bring the difference, in cash, to the exchange. If you spent more, when you get to the exchange, you will receive the difference back.
6. On the day of the exchange, you show up and divy out your items. Since you've put names on each meal, passing out is very easy. It usually takes 15 minutes or less to pass out food, pack yours up and then pay in or get back money based on what the average cost was.
That is it. So simple. Since you are given a choice of meal size when you sign up, smaller families are given the option of having the recipe (which might do a 9 x 13) put into two smaller portions. I usually walk away with 12-14 freezer meals since mine are divided like this. I only personally know two other people in the group; the others are friend of a friend type acquaintances. Such a blessing to have it in your freezer so you can pull something out in the morning or pass a meal onto a sick friend. I can also see the ministry possibilities if a small group were created in a church setting. Wouldn't it be awesome if instead of making the exact number of meals for each participant, each person made an extra and then the entire group donated those extras to a single mom that you thought might enjoy a break from cooking?