We throw parties for everything — full moons, new episodes of our favorite shows, because it’s Friday! Or Wednesday! — So why not host a freezer club night? Is it because you’re not totally sure what a freezer club is? Fair enough! Freezer clubs are meal-sharing plans or frozen food exchanges between like-minded friends and neighbors, old and new. It’s a way to stock your freezer with nutritious, satisfying meals that you chose, yet did not have to cook. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely off the hook; you have to make food to share with everyone, too. It’s actually not that complicated. Let’s break it down step by step — or better yet — lasagna by lasagna.
Choose the Right Friends
Okay, this is a rule for life, not just your freezer club! But let’s focus on the club for now. You’ll probably want to orchestrate a freezer club with friends who have kids the same age, who eat in the same general style as you do and who can afford a similar grocery budget. If you’re a vegetarian, find other veg friends to join up with. Same goes for allergies and any other dietary restrictions. On a slightly more personal level, collaborate with people you like and relate to. Don’t join a freezer club with someone who makes you anxious or intimidated. Do join a freezer club with someone who won’t mind if every now and then, your baked-not-fried fish sticks are an epic flop. And better yet, a friend who can laugh about it with you.
Highly Organized, Task-Oriented Leaders Make Ideal Administrators
Freezer clubs involve commitment, responsibility and work. So, pick someone who actually likes all that, and give that über-organized friend permission to take charge and be authoritative. That way, all you have to do is throw on your favorite apron, blast some jamming music and enjoy cooking the ratatouille. Because seriously, not everyone is stellar at the less-fun stuff. For example, how often will your freezer club meet? Once a month? Every six weeks? Everyone should take turns hosting, and the administrator will stay on that schedule. Also, budgets. Ideally, you’ll combine grocery receipts and split the total amount on party night, but that’s tricky, given the fact that some people grow their own food, some people have non-club items on their receipts, etc. Unless you’re a highly orderly and systematic superhero, let the administrator figure all this logistical stuff out, and just go with it!
How Much To Cook and What To Cook
The best idea is to cook for however many people are in the club. So, if there are five members, everyone makes five meals in advance. Each meal should serve a family of four to eight, unless you’re in a singles freezer club, which sounds like a fun idea! Some clubs get together to decide on recipes in advance, but the most timesaving method is to email a recipe idea list and see if everyone approves. Preparing five large meals sounds like a lot of shopping and a lot of work — and it is. But there’s definitely a way to do it without getting overwhelmed. Buy all your groceries at once, at your favorite market with the best deals, and go with a monumental list. Then, pick a day you have time to cook your heart out. Instead of cooking the day before freezer club, try to cook a few days before, just in case something goes wrong and you have to tweak the recipe or start over.
You’ll want to label and store everything in the most efficient way. Make sure you use a container or dish that you can freeze AND bake in. As for labels, write the name of the dish, cooking instructions and your name, so whoever ends up cooking it knows to contact you with questions about preparation or ingredients.
The Freezer Club Party
Food is the language that brings us together, so let’s focus on the togetherness. Exchange night — and again, you’ll rotate homes for this — should be all about wine and chatting. So, first things first, give and receive your frozen meals. Get them into your big red cooler out in the car, and then go back to the fun. You certainly don’t have to talk about recipes at the party, but for new friends and neighbors, food is indeed a great unifier. Chances are, the room will be filled with so much joy and gratitude, the night will be wonderful no matter what happens next. (Side note: Some moms like to make freezer club less of an evening soiree and more of a post-naptime playgroup and hang session. Do whatever works for the group.)
Remember, You Now Have Frozen Meals for Those in Need
This is a huge perk for freezer clubbers. If someone you love has a baby or a crisis, or even if someone you don’t know needs a helping hand or an act of kindness, you now have a hearty, precooked meal to offer. That is such a compassionate thing to do; karma will thank you later. And you’ll thank freezer club for keeping you on top of your mealtime game.