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Ask the Readers – Freezer Cooking Party

I got this question from Whitney. I don’t have an answer, but I figure some of YOU do. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

I am thinking of throwing a freezer cooking party for my expecting sister-in-law. This way a lot of friends can gather together, prepare meals for her, and send her home with lots of meals to keep them going through the first months of having their first baby.

I’ve just started reading your site and it has tons of helpful info and I haven’t even gotten through half of it – but I wanted to see if you had any specific tips for throwing a party like this? I also wondered if you had ever done it this way?

Have you held a freezer cooking party?

What suggestions do you have to make it a success?

Curious about freezer cooking? Consider purchasing my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore. It’s chock full with over 200 freezer-friendly recipes, planning pages, shopping lists, cooking plans, and basic and advanced how-to’s to making freezer cooking work for any home, family, and lifestyle.

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Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Have all the food brought in disposable pans, that way there are no dishes to worry about returning…or washing. Make sure the cooking instructions are clearly marked. Make sure the expecting mama brings a cooler–or at the very least a laundry basket or box for transporting the meals back home.
    This isn’t necessary–but would be nice–maybe include some paper plates as well. Doing dishes is one if those chores that is annoying to do when you have a new baby :-)

    • Amanda Y. says:

      @Stephanie, I think that sounds like a fantastic idea, although I’ve never done it (though I might try for a friend due in April). The suggestions above about having disposable things sounds like a great tip!

  2. My best advice would be to have a party and have everyone bring a labeled freezer meal (already frozen). I’ve been in a “cooking club” where we got together and made freezer meals in someone’s kitchen…honestly, it’s messy, confusing and time consuming. If she’s at the end of her pregnancy, she might rather spend time with guests, painting a vase or plate at a ceramics place, yet you still (the guests) are blessing her with freezer meals at the same time with little effort and mess. I agree with Stephanie that people should try their best to use disposable pans!! What a blessing you will be to your sister in law!!

    • Jennifer H says:

      @Jill Peterson, I was thinking along the same lines…bring already cooked and frozen meals. Also, bring chocolate! :D What new mom doesn’t love to have chocolate. I have a six month old and that was my favorite food when she was born.LOL

  3. AllieZirkle says:

    I’m with Jill! Have the guests bring a frozen dish in a disposable pan. You could have guests assemble dry teams for mixes (pancakes, breads, etc). Each guest can be responsible for somehing (freezer ziplock quart bags, sugar, flour, etc)

  4. While your freezin’ why not make it a freezer party for everyone? Have everyone (expect your sister in law) be responsible for making 4 (or whatever you choose) meals of one freezer dish (Burritos, lasgna, etc) That way all each person has to do is bring enough stuff responsible for making a dish x 4. Everyone gets new freezer dishes to take home, and the mommy to be has a whole freezer full : ) I would make sure things like browning meat, cooking pasta, and most chopping is done ahead of time. Then all you have to do at the party is assemble, chat, and swap meals & tips!

    • @Kate, I love freezer meal exchanges and a party sounds even better. The last one I did one of our girls was ready to pop out a baby. We all made several meals, she insisted on making at least one and we all went home with tons of meals including her. It was great and she was so thankful for all the food for after the baby was born. We had everything made and frozen beforehand in disposable containers, so we just chatted and exchanged! I hadn’t thought of doing this as a party for someone in particular before tho, what an awesome idea! Wheels are turning for the prego girls at church!

  5. I did a cooking day a while back with my mom and sis and three was a bit much in the kitchen, and I don’t have an especially small kitchen. I like the idea behind it though and think everyone bringing a frozen meal (in disposable pans for sure) is a great idea! You could even have everyone bring two and then trade them so that everyone goes home with something new! I am sure this new momma to be will love having a freezer full, just make sure she has enough room!

  6. I would think that it might get a little confusing in the kitchen with all those ladies. Some ladies did this for me when pregnant with #3 and it was wonderful. They just brought the frozen dish already made with all the directions written on the top.

    Maybe you could just visit at the shower and have light snacks. Maybe give the mom a facial or a pedicure. Or you all could do pedicures together.

    I like the idea of also sending paper plates. Plastic utensils and napkins would be good too.

  7. The idea of stocking the sister-in-law’s freezer is wonderful!! However, I’d say that doing it all in one day in her house sounds like a recipe for a stressful mess. Blessing her with the gift of fully assembled dinners sounds so much better!

    I just had my third child 7 weeks ago. My other boys are 3 and 1. I made a ton of things for my deep freezer, plus our church group brought frozen food before the baby came and fresh dinners after he arrived.

    Here are some ideas that work for us as a family with a new baby all over again:

    1. Do everything in disposable pans or containers.

    2. Make a variety of casseroles as well as soups and the components of a dinner. For instance, freeze up cooked chicken, beef or ham and store in dinner-sized portions. Those items can be added to salads or eaten by themselves later and make a nice change from a casserole. You can even make meatloaf in muffin tins! (This is a big hit in my house!)

    3. Don’t forget breakfast! I have always found making “the most important meal of the day” difficult, so I found some solutions this time around. I made muffins packed with oatmeal and applesauce for filling up big and little tummies. I made many batches of pancakes and froze them in freezer bags. My favorite thing I made up were breakfast burritos. They have scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese and salsa in them. By far those have been the biggest hit and with the high protein in them, they have been great for the mornings.

    In all, we had 40 casseroles, approximately 10 pounds of precooked meats, 20 batches of pancakes, 12 dozen muffins, 6 batches of soups and 110 breakfast burritos! It’s been a HUGE blessing to have all of that. We have only had to run to the store for fresh produce and milk. And now, 7 weeks later, we are STILL eating off of this stockpile!

    Good luck as you plan the freezer cooking!

  8. I just helped throw a baby shower for a friend who is expecting twins.. On the invite we asked the guests to bring a package of diapers and a frozen meal for gifts…. It was great to send her home w/ 15 meals and 15 packages of diapers! (We also decorated white onesies) These are her 4th and 5th babies so she didn’t need anything else….(except maybe a housekeeper etc. :) ) Check and make sure they have freezer space to hold the meals.

  9. I”m with Jill too. Have everyone bring something frozen or to freeze in disposable pans to be collected for the expecting mother. Labeled and with directions. Another thought. If there are a lot of people, you could have some bring main dishes, some breakfast muffins, some quick lunches, some soups. Sounds like fun!

  10. All the ideas above are great, I would add that you let all the guests know of the family likes or dislikes, food intolerance or allergy, etc. There would be nothing more disappointing than to get a freezer full of meals that the family could not eat.

    Also, meals or snacks that you can eat and nurse at the same time are always helpful :)

  11. If you were intent upon making a meal during the shower, you could have everyone bring an already prepared item, entree, side, breakfast, etc and then just have all the ingredients prepped ahead for the attendees to help put together one type of freezer meal. For example, have all the ingredients prepped for one particular type of lasagna and then have the party be about the assembly. Personally though, I agree with everyone above. Skip the putting together part for the sake of the shower and just have the guests bring something already made. Love the onesie idea. What a special gift to have a decorated onsie from each of your friends.

  12. I had a “party” with my husband and my mother-in-law. It worked well, but I would think any more than 3 would be tough. We had one dicing, chopping, grating, etc. One was cooking the meat. Then we were all kind of working on our own meal. It was messy, but it was only messy for a few hours. I don’t know if it would work with more unless you had good friends and a big kitchen. I hope we can hear how it goes!

  13. LOVE this idea!!

    Great tips! Especially about allergies, available freezer space and disposable dishes!

    Perhaps on the invitation you could ask each guest to make a food item for different meals. That way breakfast, lunch and dinner will be covered. Also include snacks in there! That way you also wont end up with 10 lasagnas :)

    You could even let everyone know that you have suggestions and how to prepare the freezer meals if they need any help. Just send them here :)

    What a blessing this will be for her and her family! So thoughtful on your part!

  14. I would suggest going to the Mom’s house, letting her have a say in the recipes (she know what her family eats, allergies, etc), put things in disposable containers, and leave the kitchen sparkling (double blessing). She will not be hauling home a lug of things which she hopes will fit in the freezer.

    Just two ladies together can knock out quite a few meals especially if the kids are all playing together.

    Don’t forget a complete list including other parts of the meal. When I put up homemade pancake mixes I also bought or made sausages and froze them, made sure I had butter and syrup enough, and put it on the list of complete meals. It’s not just when the baby comes home from the hospital. For us, it always seemed like the first two to three months were just a blur. A Mom looking at a list of 40 or more meals before the baby comes probably has her nesting instict much more satiated.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I hosted a freezer meal party for my best friend when she had her first child. It was great sending her home with frozen meals that she ended up using when she had a new baby plus a house full of “helpers” those first few weeks. In retrospect (having had a few children of my own), I would recommend people bring the meals already prepared as other comments have suggested. It was fun to do it all together and neat to learn new recipes, but it may have not been “relaxing” for the mom. One fun suggestion though…the husbands came too and while we all cooked they entertained the “daddy to be”.

  16. Another cooking blog I frequent did a post on just this topic called Storking the freezer…it has tons of great ideas on how to throw a freezer cooking baby shower as well as recipes.

    http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/search/label/Freezer%20Meal%20Baby%20Shower

  17. Love all the suggestions above. I didn’t get through them all as I’m heading out the door, so if this is a repeat I’m sorry. My only suggestion in addition would try to have your guest bring different kinds of food so she’s not stuck with 10 chicken and rice casseroles!

  18. My mom and sister hosted a “Diapers and Dinners” shower for me when I was expecting our 4th child (also our 4th girl, so we didn’t need anything else). Those who were foodies brought some really delicious meals and those who wanted to purchase a traditional “gift” knew that all we really needed was diapers…not more 0 – 3 month little girl clothes.

    One suggestion is to have the guests also provide the new mom with the recipe. One of the marinara sauces I received had the recipe included and it still one of my favorites today!

    I also echo the others who commented about having a variety of foods. There was nothing so good as the chocolate chip cookie bars I pulled out of the freezer for a snack for me while nursing the baby at 2 am!

  19. Thank you SO much to everyone for your comments!!! I originally emailed asking about this topic, and the response has been SO helpful!!!! I have had one baby of my own and agree with all of your comments on variety of food, checking on what they like and what allergies they might have, possibly bringing the dishes pre-made, and making sure there is enough room in their freezer! (Especially since there will be milk to store there as well!)

    I was considering using this vacuum sealing machine my mom has for sealing all of the meals. We’ve only used it one other time and it seemed to work great, does anyone else have any experience with this kind of machine? I thought this would allow them more room in the freezer! Then I thought I might make labels to go on each vacuum pack, that would then coordinate with the actual recipe that I was going to compile in a little binder book for her.

    I also love the idea of a swap of meals so everyone goes home with something! Oh my mind is just full with all of your great suggestions! Thank you everyone!

    • @Whitney Cheek,

      We use our vacuum sealer all the time for things that stay in the freezer for up to a year. I think it works great. Lay everything flat on a cookie sheet…once we had a bag of sauce freeze around the wire shelf in our freezer…we had to take everything off the shelf and run under hot water until it defrosted so we could get bag off shelf…total pain! Once liquids are frozen solid you can stack. Label with reheating directions and maybe side suggestions.

  20. Our group in NC used to hold freezer cooking play dates once a week on Fridays. We would allow our kiddos to play while we cooked. We all helped each other with babies or young kids when needed and took over each other’s recipe when needed. Four of us made the same recipes and we had a lot of organization and cranked out the food in three hours. However, I recommend sticking to one or two entrees to simplify grocery shopping. We attempted about 4 entrees and sometimes it was crazy. Our website/blog shares freezer cooking recipes only.

  21. If you’re really set on having a big cooking party then one option if your church or the expectant mom’s church has a commercial kitchen to see if you can use their kitchen for the party. I guess it depends on what kind of facilities are available to your group, but that might be a better sized kitchen for such an awesome undertaking :)
    Also, I’d talk to the expectant mom about what foods/recipes she and her family will eat, plan the meals, and ask each guest to bring a specific ingredient. Hope it goes well :)

  22. I have had freezer cooking parties. There were six of us…and we each prepared five of the same freezer meals, froze them, and brought them to the party (well, some actually didn’t freeze them beforehand, but that was okay!). We got together and had some wine and finger foods, chatted, then each of us took a meal from the other, and went home with five freezer meals each! Yes, it was a task making five of the same meal, but easier than making five different meals, which is what we ended up with!

  23. Kelli Walter says:

    As a mom of six I think this is a great idea. But, please have them bring meals already prepared and frozen. I participated in a once a month cooking club and it is hard work and very messy. It was fun, but not relaxing. Check allergies and make a list so they don’t end up with the same dish x10.

    I have to agree with the breakfast ideas. It is often overlooked. I always enjoy lunch meats, cheeses, etc. for easy lunches.

    Disposable plates, napkins another great idea!

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