I’m all about trying to make life a little smarter and simpler. Shortly after I had my daughter, now 10, I joined a freezer cooking co-op with my friend Tracie. This is the perfect solution for most everyone: those of us who hate to cook, those who love to cook, those who are busy, those who love to get new recipes, and those who love to be organized.
Our group consists of 10 women, who each shop and prep one recipe times 10. We then gather every 5-6 weeks to swap the meals, coming home with nine new meals for our freezers. The idea is to pull out the meal, thaw it overnight, and cook it via a slow cooker, oven or grill. While I’m now in a different group with a bunch of friends, the concept is still the same. For us busy moms who are constantly running to and from kid activities at night, this is a great way to ensure we can put some good meals on the table without taking a ton of time. My favorite part, of course, is the gathering, where I get to see my friends and catch up over wine and apps.
Prep time on “cooking day” (the day the meals get prepared before the gathering) depends on the recipe: some can take as little as an hour while others take 3-4 hours. We all try to mix and match easy versus difficult recipes.
We each total up the cost of our meal from our grocery receipts and email a point person in the group. She then puts the costs into a spreadsheet, where everything gets equalized. If one person made a roast for $11.50, for instance, while another person made a chicken dish that was $5.95, costs get distributed and a meal average cost is created. We then end up paying the same amount for all the meals. In our group, we choose entrees that contain at least 1.5 to 2 pounds of meat. Our average cost per meal is $7-$7.50. Quite a deal to feed a family of 4-6 people!
Our most recent gathering was this past Monday, and I made Asian Pulled Pork for sandwiches. For this recipe I just combined all the ingredients in a freezer bag. We always double bag our meals (adding another freezer ziploc) to make sure the juices don’t leak when thawing. Here is the recipe:
Asian Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- ¼ C soy sauce
- ¼ C hoisin sauce
- 1 ½ T. ketchup
- 1 ½ T. rice vinegar
- 2 T. honey
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ T. grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
- ½ tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 1.5 – 2 lbs Boneless Boston butt pork roast or beef brisket, trimmed of fat
From Frozen: Thaw. Add everything to the slow cooker and toss to coat meat. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
When the pork is done, shred the pork by pulling the pieces apart with two forks. Stir it into the sauce and serve on buns.
If you like, make the dish up to 2 days ahead and store it covered in the fridge. Simply skim off an accumulating fat and reheat the meat in a saucepan over low heat before serving. Serves 6.
If this sounds like fun, I’d encourage you to gather a few friends and try it out! There are a lot of websites (just google “freezer cooking”) and cookbooks dedicated to freezer cooking. I’ve also included our group’s handy guidelines and tips here. Not only will you get some great recipes, but you’ll work in a girls’ night out at the same time!