I started my January Whole30 with my meals all plotted out and my fridge brimming with veggies and possibility. But by Day 15, was struggling hard with meal planning and prep.
I have lots of excuses. Life is kind of unusual for our family right now, and I’m spending lots of mental energy thinking about other things. I’m usually passionate about finding and trying delicious new-to-me Whole30 recipes, but for some reason, I just wasn’t feeling it this time. I had relied on my tried-and-true meals, and now I was experiencing some fatigue. For example, I do not desire to eat any more egg casserole. Ever. Even the kind with bacon. And that’s saying a lot.
So last weekend I called on clean-eating girlfriends for help, and now I want to shout it from the rooftops, ‘Hallelujah for Whole30 freezer meal club!’ Thanks to these eight ladies, my freezer is now stocked with favorite and new-to-me meals. They are either completely cooked, so my can just thaw and eat, or they are pre-assembled so I can just throw them in my Instant Pot and walk away.
I honestly feel like this extra little boost from my community will be the thing that helps me stick to this 30-day goal! So if you’re feeling a little worn out from your healthy eating resolutions, I highly recommend you get together with some friends and give this freezer meal club thing a try. Just from my personal experience, I provide a basic outline for getting started below, but if you’re intimidated by this process and you want even more detail, I recommend buying the cookbook From Freezer to Table. Rachel and Polly are experts. They lay everything out in great detail and share some amazing recipes.
Here’s how I set up our group. This time around, the time frame for us was just five days from the time we started planning until the meal exchange. BECAUSE I NEEDED MEALS. Ideally, though, I’d recommend allowing two weeks from start to finish to get all the details ironed out before your exchange.
How to Host a Whole 30 Freezer Meal Club
- Create a forum for chatting and sharing back and forth with your group members. For me, it was easiest to set up a closed Facebook group.
- Set a date and time to exchange meals at a host’s house. Have friends try to commit to all have at least their meals there at the same time. Swapping can get tricky when people show up at different times.
- Agree upon dietary guidelines. We used the basic Whole30 guidelines to omit sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, soy and any unnatural additives. Also have group members share any food allergies or preferences.
- Agree upon number of servings. Our group members were assigned to make their recipe times nine and six servings per family.
- Have group members share meal ideas. It’s nice if each person can create a poll to suggest three possible meals. Have other group members vote on their favorite, so a majority agrees on the meals that are swapped.
- Once meals have been decided, make your list and check it twice. Search the sale ads, and shop for ingredients.
- Save your receipts and have each member total what they spent. One super awesome mama in our group is super numbers savvy and she blesses me with her ability to figure out who owes who money in the end. Some meat-heavy dishes will cost more, but everybody ends up paying the same.
- Make your meal to share! With nine members in our group, this is somewhat time-intensive. I would say each lady spent from two to four hours preparing her meal to share. I was suuuuuper sad I suggested for myself to make meatballs. Never again, man.
- Package, label and freeze your meals for exchange.
- Meet to exchange meals! I suggest bringing an ice chest or freezer bags to bring all your meals home.
These are the meals we made to swap for our January Whole30. As you can see, we were pretty soup-heavy, and I love it for midwinter in Missouri! I would also note that a lot of these meals are just the meat main dish for us to serve with veggies as we wish at home. So freezer meals eliminate a lot of the work, but not all of it.
Slow Cooker Gumbo (assembled, okra frozen separately)
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili (assembled, coconut and broth included to add)
Freezer-Friendly Whole 30 Slow Cooker Beef Stew (assembled, throw in your Instant Pot)
Butternut Squash Soup (fully prepared, just heat and eat)
Sundried Tomato Meatballs in Marinara (fully cooked, heat up and eat) Recipe found in The Big Book of Paleo Slowcooking which I highly recommend for Whole30 and life after!
Asian Meatballs (fully cooked, heat up and eat)
Juicy Balsamic Grilled Chicken (uncooked and frozen in marinade)
Instant Pot Shredded Mexican Chicken (fully cooked, thaw and eat)
Smoky Pork Chops (prepare sauce separately for freezing)
Whew, that’s a lot of information, but I hope you find it helpful! Do you have a favorite Whole30 meal that would be great to try as a freezer meal? Would you consider organizing a freezer meal club of your own? Do share!