From Farm to Table to Freezer: How to Organize a Meal Swap with Your Friends
I spend a lot of time cooking - maybe you can relate. If I don't stay organized and top of our meals for the week, I find myself spending money on take out and eating unhealthy food. Meal planning is one of the best things I started doing for our family. It helps with food waste, saving money, and eating well.
However, there's a difference between meal planning & meal prepping. Meal planning is knowing what you're going to cook for the week. Meal prepping is getting those meals ready for the week.
I meal plan, but I don't meal prep.
But, a few months ago I came up with an idea to help me with meal prepping that would overall save me time, money, and reduce food waste.
The idea was to host a meal swap with a group of friends!
It's simple: you cook a big batch of something using farmers' market ingredients, freeze it in portions, and then swap it with a group of friends. This way, you can enjoy a variety of meals without having to spend as much time and money on cooking and shopping.
The first month we made chicken cacciatore with instructions to serve it over noodles or rice. Last month we made a big batch of beef stew with potatoes and carrots.
We always cook one meal for ourselves and then one for each household in our swap group (there are 5 of us in the group). We have received delicious meals in return: homemade pizza, samosas, curried veg, burritos and more.
Here are 5 reasons I think you should try it with a group of friends and/or family:
Saving money: It's much more cost effective to cook one big batch of food than multiple different meals.
Food waste: when meals are ready-made in the freezer and portioned out, you waste less food then when you cook yourself a big batch of something and let a portion of it go to waste in the back of the fridge.
Relationships: it's just really fun to get together once a month and swap food!
Variety: you get to try new foods you may not cook for yourself
Convenience: after a long day, when you have no plan for supper, having a meal you can just pop in the oven that was made with love is absolutely wonderful!
Here are some meal ideas that can be made in big batches and easily frozen:
Chicken and vegetable soup: A great way to use up random veggies taking up space in your fridge.
Beef and vegetable stew: Lot's of veggies in season right now to make a tasty stew.
Spinach and feta quiche: Whip up a batch of pastry dough and then fill it with sautéed spinach, crumbled feta, and eggs. This savory quiche can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Butternut squash and kale lasagna: Layer lasagna noodles with roasted butternut squash, sautéed kale, and a creamy béchamel sauce.
Chili: a classic & easily frozen tasty meal! My family always served it over noodles with sour cream - yum!
These are just a few examples of meals you can make using farmers' market ingredients. By doing a meal swap with friends, you can enjoy a variety of meals without having to spend as much time and money on cooking and shopping.
Is this something you can see yourself doing with friends? Let us know in the comments below what you think!