Guidelines for Freezer Cooking (from sweetteastreet.com)
1) Freezer cooking co-ops work best when all members cook and eat in a similar manner. It is very difficult to work with food restrictions, so we try to make sure we are all flexible in our meals and open to new ideas and recipes.
2) When considering a recipe, make sure it doesn’t include a lot of chopping or sauteing. What is manageable for one recipe might be a nightmare when you are making 10 recipes.
3) The primary purpose of the co-op is to provide each family with 1.5-2 lbs of protein. Side dishes are not required, although if the meal should be served with rice or noodles, it can be nice to include them. Normally buns are not included, as they decrease in quality when frozen and take up a lot of room.
4) At each meeting we would like to have everyone bring a recipe or two that they would consider making for the next month. This allows us to make sure that we have a balance of beef, chicken, fish, eggs, etc. and that we aren’t all making a Mexican or Italian dish. When thinking about what you’d like to make, be sure to consider what you might have a lot of in your pantry from a previous meal you made. It makes it nice to know if you buy a five gallon bucket of soy sauce from Costco that you’ll be able to use it two months in a row.
5) Co-op generally meets every 4-6 weeks based on how full people’s freezers are and the time of year. We are flexible. If you find yourself with more food than you can eat and it is time for another meeting, you can always offer to sell your surplus food to another co-op member (the costs are right on the recipe!) or sub out.
6) All food costs are equalized. Please keep track of your grocery expenses and then divide the total cost by the numbers of entrées you’ve made. This per entrée cost will need to be reported prior to our monthly meeting so that we can settle up before exchanging meals. We do try to keep costs down. The cost of your entrée should be printed on your recipe. This helps people to sell meals to each other if they’d like to.
7) When figuring your costs, please only charge the co-op members for the amount of an ingredient you actually use in the recipe.
8) Our target for meals is $9. If a meal is going to go unexpectedly over $12, please consider a different recipe or contact the group to ask them what they want you to do.
9) All meals must be double freezer bagged. This serves two purposes: It protects the food, and it ensures that if the inside bag leaks you don’t wind up with a mess in your fridge.
10) Please include a copy of your entire recipe, including directions for thawing and preparing, in between your two freezer bags. This not only will expand your recipe collection, it allows people to see exactly what is in each meal. Please include your name, date the dish was made, cost of entrée and your phone number in case of questions.
11) Please follow the safest,most sanitary cooking procedures possible. All thawing should be done in the fridge, and all meats should be cooked to minimum internal temperatures.
12) For smaller families, it helps to be able to get two meals out of one entrée. We facilitate that by freezing ground beef in two blocks and keeping marinade and chicken breasts separate until thawed.
1) Cover your work surface with layers of newspapers before beginning to cook. This will allow all spills to be soaked up.
2) Coffee cans or bowls work great if you are packaging up soup or other messy recipes. Just place the freezer bag inside the can and turn down the sides.
3) Freeze entrées as flat as possible to preserve freezer space. Store frozen entrées like books on a shelf when they are in your freezer so that you can see what you have without pulling out a huge stack of frozen meals.
4) If a recipe calls for a lot of water (soups, stews, roasts) it is fine to leave it out to save freezer space. Just mark on the recipe.
5) In general, the only things we’ve found to not freeze well are celery (which gets mushy) and plain sour cream. If either are mixed into something else they are ok.
6) For freezer cooking recipes, you can always check the web.