The October Freeze - Freezer Exchange

Whew. Talk about racing around like a crazy woman today.

Howeva, it did pay off. Seven casseroles later. One loaded cooler. One trip through the McDonald's Drive-through because, well, I needed a Diet Coke to refuel after the labor-intensive day.

Next stop, Catherine's.

Catherine put out an email a few weeks ago asking if anyone wanted to be involved in a freezer exchange. The concept was simple. Seven people signed up, which meant that each of us made seven of the SAME thing. We were assigned a category so as to avoid everyone making chili. We were given the exchange date and time and all you had to do was show up with your seven things and the exchange began.

We each walked away with seven meals frozen and ready to serve. Um, let me repeat. WE EACH WALKED AWAY WITH SEVEN MEALS. Talk about feelin' good.

Several of you have asked about details so I'm going to post those below, in case you want to start something like this with your own group of friends. If you're never gonna do this, just skip to the bottom - I included a few snapshots of our exchange.

I've basically cut and pasted Catherine's emails to the group about the October freeze.

Catherine wrote:

Hi cooking friends-
So, we have seven confirmed cooks that want to try this month's freezer cooking.

We need to agree to cook meals that are made with 'kid friendly' ingredients-(knowing we won't be able to please the really picky eaters)-just nothing too crazy (ox tail soup and liver!) Try to cook with the the healthiest choice of ingredients and nothing too spicy. We should all agree to use our high standards of sanitation while we are cooking for others. All the meals should be "ready to freeze"--labeled with the date/name of meal/defrosting and cooking instructions. If you want to include the recipe, that might be helpful for those who want to know the ingredients or just want to cook your yummy meal again.

Please come with six family size servings of your meal. {Keep one at home for your family.} We should all end up with seven different meals for our freezers. Come with a total of what you spent on ingredients and our accountant will calculate and divide up costs so everything is financially equitable. Also, please be open to sharing and receiving constructive criticism on the meals. If this is something we decide to continue doing--knowing what meals work for the families involved will be helpful.

We found a blog from some women who have done this before--it has recipes on it and loads of other info you might find helpful: Check it out
here. You should really check this site out as it has good info on things like buying good ziploc freezer bags and cooking with fresh meat. Check out the tips on the right side of the blog.

To avoid going home with seven meals of chicken noodle are your assigned categories. Find and cook a recipe that fits in this category. "Pasta" can be any grain like rice/bulgur etc. Ground turkey can always sub for ground beef and pork or turkey for chicken. Hidden veggies are always a plus with our young children. Happy cooking!

chicken w/pasta
beef w/ pasta
beef no pasta
soup or stew

And that, my friends, was what I am affectionately calling The October Freeze. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I feel like I learned this time around and next time it'll go smoother.

Here are my own personal thoughts on everything.
  1. I wouldn't include any more than 7 people. That was about the limit for me, as far as the bowls and utensils and stuff that I had to work with, as well as kitchen space.
  2. I actually set up 7 bowls on my counter and did the recipe seven times all at once, rather than mixing ingredients in bulk and then divvying it up, if that makes sense. That way, I didn't get messed up on how much of this goes into this bowl, etc. For a non-mathie like myself, this worked best.
  3. You often hear of friends getting together and spending all day cooking in one location together. In theory that sounds like way more fun, but with little kids and in this season of my life, I much preferred doing it on my own so that I could time things between errands and when I had time here and there as opposed to setting aside an entire day and then finding childcare to watch the kids while I did so. It was then fun to have the exchange in the evening to visit and re-hash our individual adventures.
  4. I didn't try my recipe ahead of time and next time I will. I wish I had because I would have added more sauce to everyone's had I tried it first.
  5. Shopping in bulk was very helpful and cost effective.
  6. When shopping, separate your personal stuff (because you know you can't go to the grocery store without picking up those few things that your family needs) and the 'freezer exchange' stuff. This makes it way easier to just know that everyone on one receipt is for the freezer exchange, including the tax. So glad I did it that way.
  7. Several gals froze things in the good ziplock bags and I would do that next time if possible. {This time my casserole was a layered thing so it wouldn't have worked for mine.}

Next time I'll for sure do it at a few days ahead of time. I sort of, but not surprisingly, procrastinated. Knowing that I only had 2 hours to spare before the 'exchange' was a bit stressful. Oh, and can I just say that every time I say 'exchange' I feel like a druggie. Weirdo.

So there you have it, for all who asked about the details. If you end up trying this out with friends let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear about your experience.


I would definately do it again. Love the name of the "October FREEZE!" I agree with you that I did enjoy making it in my own kitchen. That way if I make a mess, it's my mess to clean up. :-) I can't wait to do it again and maybe we can do the cookie walk next time or in the next couple of months. YEAH to newly formed friends. I appreciate the times we have to share and sit around to talk. (I sometimes forget how to converse with big people rather than little people.)

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