How to Plan a Meal Swap

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

How to Plan a Meal

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.  
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.

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

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.

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.


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

  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!

  3. 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.

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

  5. NEVER even thought of something like this. I'm so bookmarking this and setting up an upcoming swap – thank you 🙂

  6. 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.

  7. 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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