Monday, September 21, 2009

Guest Post: How to Host a Successful Meal Swap

One key thing when everyone arrived was to get out all the food and get the kids settled. Then start cooking!

Make sure everything is labeled when you're done!

Do you get sick of the same old food night after night and wish you could add some variety to your diet? Then I’ve got a great idea: Host a Meal Swap. Last week 3 of my friends and I got together for a meal swap which you can see here.

There were 4 of us and 3 of us are stay at home Moms on a limited budget. The idea is that we brought ingredients to cook 2 healthy meals each at my house. We made enough in one dish for 12 people (3 people in each family) and made 2 dishes each. We walked away with 8 meals each all of which are healthy, can be frozen and were super cheap. The two meals I made cost no more than $5 for a family of 4.

The great thing about these meals is that they can be frozen so that on a busy night you can just pull them out of the freezer and pop them straight in the oven with no prep time.. If you have cooking days like this it really does cut down on your food budget and your time so that you don’t have to run in somewhere for a cheap burger, and also helps you serve healthy meals quickly. Here are my tips for a successful meal swap:

  1. Have the kids there so there’s no need for a babysitter. Sure it may seem like a madhouse but it saves money and they'll play together.

  2. Provide lunch so that all your hard work isn't blown by running out for a bite to eat.

  3. Each plan easy meals to make and bring all the necessary ingredients for them as well as utensils and storage containers. Have labels ready to mark what you make.

  4. Cut up some of the things beforehand. What really helped was that we had pre-cut onions, already cooked pasta for some of the meals which cut down on pan usage.

  5. Although we were each responsible for our own meals, we pitched in to help each other. One person stirred all the pots while another prepped something.

  6. This is more of a prep day so there won’t be too much cooking going on which will cut down on oven use. On the day that they’re cooked they can simply be taken out of the freezer and cooked saving on prep time.

  7. We’re each using meals based around meats we found on sales at the local stores. That way we get more variety but it’s still on budget.

  8. Finally.........rotate houses then one person's doesn't get messy all the time.
One great resource is a book I reviewed here called Don't Panic....Dinner's in the Freezer. I also love Lite and Easy Assets.

For some of the recipes used, you can go here and here. We ended up with:

  • Lasagne Roll Ups

  • Turkey tacos

  • Chili

  • Sloppy Joes

  • Chicken and Rice

  • Meatloaf

  • Taco Casserole

  • Stuffed Shells

Thanks, Clair at Mummy Deals

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