How to Plan a Meal Swap

6:00 AM

Great tips on how to start a meal swap to stock up on #freezermeals.

Thanks to contributor Shannah for this great post!

Meal swaps are a great way to stock your freezer with a wide variety of meals without a lot of the prep work that comes along with making a bunch of different meal options.  I try to participate in one each month so I know my freezer will always be stocked with delicious options for me to cook on really busy days.  A meal swap is a great way to way to make sure we are eating at home instead of going out when our schedule gets tight and no one really has time to prep and cook dinner.

Based on my experience with hosting meal swaps, I wanted to share with you what I have found works best when planning and hosting a meal swap.

How to Plan a Meal Swap:


1) Find a Group of People

I usually take to Facebook for this, and post on my wall that I am looking for participants.  You can always use a mom’s group or just email your friends to see who is interested.
                TIP:  Try to limit your group to 5 people.  It just makes it easier when you actually start cooking if you don’t have a huge group.  If you have more than 5 people interested, consider splitting the group in half so that everyone can participate but so you don’t have to make 10+ meals.
                TIP:  Try to group families with major allergies in their own meal swap group.  If you aren’t very familiar with the foods associated with a particular allergy, it can definitely make preparing meals much more difficult.

2)  Pick a Timeline

I usually pick a swap date that is 2 weeks from the date our group forms.  This gives everyone time to shop, prep and cook without getting overly stressed about meeting the timeline.
                TIP: Make sure everyone is available on the day/time you pick for the swap.  It makes it so much easier if everyone is there to drop off and collect their meals versus having to coordinate swapping for an additional person.

3)  Select Your Recipes

When selecting your recipes, make sure that it is something that is easy to make multiple batches of and is freezer friendly.
                TIP:  Choose a recipe that has minimal prep work the day your swap recipient wants to cook it.  For example, no one wants to grab a freezer meal on a busy day only to find out they have to add 2 extra ingredients and then perform 4 steps just to get it cooking.

4)  Get Shopping and Cooking!  

It is best to cook your meal and get it into the freezer at least one day prior to the meal swap.  This gives you plenty of time to cook and allows your food to freeze before the swap.
                TIP:  Do your meal swap shopping as a separate trip.  This helps you make sure you get exactly what you need and that swap ingredients don’t get mixed up with ingredients for your weekly meals.  
                TIP:  Buy disposable dishes to put your finished meals in for the freezer. The dollar store has great foil pans that I use for this.  That way no one has to worry about getting their dishes back after someone finishes the meal.

5)  Freezer Time!  

Always freeze your meals before the swap.  This helps with transport as they are more solid than unfrozen meals {i.e. less likely to spill in transport} and also ensures that they don’t go bad in between cooking and swapping.
                TIP:  Wrap your meal in plastic wrap and then cover with foil to protect the food.  Print your cooking instructions onto mailing labels and attach to the foil.

6)  Swap Your Meals

When your designated swap day comes, pull out all of your meals.   Whoever is hosting should make a spot of each person to deposit their meals when they arrive.
                TIP:  Our swaps always have 5 people so we create little note cards numbered 1-5.  Then, we set up stations with each note card denoting the spot around the room.  As people arrive, they place one meal from the ones they brought at each of the 5 note card stations.


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14 comments

  1. Oh thanks! I have never done a meal swap but they sounds like something that would be wonderful!!!!

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  2. I've been thinking about starting a swap and wasn't sure what to do. These are awesome tips and will help me a ton!

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  3. Never heard about this before... I'm funny about my food so I would have to think about it..lol

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  4. Doing one of these sounds fun, but my family is SUPER fussy. I'm like a short order cook...lol

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  5. I don't know if anyone would want to swap with me LOL

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  6. I don't know if I could find enough people to do it!

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  7. These are some great tips. I don't know if I can find any one to do it. People aren't social like that in LA.

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  8. My family is very picky so I don't think this would work for us!

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  9. I would LOVE to do something like this but don't have enough local friends that would do it. Maybe one day!

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  10. NEVER even thought of something like this. I'm so bookmarking this and setting up an upcoming swap - thank you :)

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  11. This is a great idea. I'm nit sure I'd get any takers in my neighborhood.

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  12. This would have been awesome in my last city. I had oodles of friends and I think this would have gone over big with the circle.

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  13. I think I could pool together 5 mom friends to do this! I do love the idea!

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  14. What a great idea. I've never done this before but it sounds like it could really help with keeping the freezer stocked with read-to-heat meals.

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