Option 2- Some shop, All Cook, Split Costs Evenly

Another popular method for freezer meal groups is the method of rotating the monthly shopping then splitting the food bills evenly amongst participants. 

Let me explain how this works:
Let’s say that you have a group of 4 families who want to do freezer meals. 

  • You would first meet together and decide how many meals to swap for that month. 
  • Set a date that everyone can pick up the cooking ingredients at a predetermined house and then 1 week later a swap.  
  • If you decide on 12 meals…. here is a sample Menu:
  1. Taco Soup
  2. Chicken Parmesan
  3. Shepherd Pie
  4. Pork Medallions
  5. Veggie Lasagna
  6. Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells
  7. Green Chicken Enchiladas
  8. Chicken Lo Mein
  9. Bacon Wrapped Chicken
  10. Beef Fajitas
  11. Cheesy Potatoes
  12. Black Bean Burritos

After the Meal Co-op meeting you need to go through each menu and multiply the ingredients to feed the desired number of families and make up a shopping list multiplying by 4.    Here’s a meal group scenario:Let’s pretend that the two shoppers for this month are Leslie and Mandy.  The morning of the shopping day both girls have lined up babysitting so that they are child-free as they get the shopping done.  They meet at SuperWalmart at 10 am and by noon they are checking out at Walmart with two full carts. They fill Mandy’s car with all the food and she heads home to get the perishables put away and starts sorting food. While Mandy is heading home to get started…. Leslie goes to Costco and Albertson’s to buy the last needed ingredients.  By 2pm Leslie is back at Mandy’s house and they are sorting out all the ingredients for each meal and include a photocopy of the recipe with the pile of ingredients (or have typed an email to group members telling them where to find recipes online).  Mandy and Leslie decide which 3 meals each person will prepare.  They purposely give each gal 1 easy meal such as a marinade or meatloaf, a dish of medium difficulty and then a more involved recipe like a Lasagna or Soup.  Then Mandy calls the other members of the group and tells them to come on over and get their assigned meals ingredients.   Everyone picks up the food this day (let’s say it’s…. Thursday) and then all meet back the following Wednesday at 10am with prepared/assembled meals to swap. 

You have a week to cook 3 different meals making 4 of each – so 12 meals total!!!  You all show up to the swap with coolers containing the frozen meals you prepared.  Don’t forget to bring leftover ingredients to this swap so that they can be used in future meals.   Also at this swap Mandy and Leslie would have added up all the receipts and divided the totals by 4.  Members all pay equal amounts.  We have found that our meals (to feed a family of six) average about $5.00 per meal. 

This option of Freezer Meal Group is not my favorite, but has its benefits.  Let me share some Pros and Cons.PROS

Can save a lot of money because you are truly buying in bulk
You have more of a say in the menu as a whole
You only have to shop every other month if there are 4 members and you have two in a shopping group.  (you could have just one gal per group so that you shop less often.. but it will be more work when it’s your turn)

CONS

You have to work around other’s schedules more as you plan out time for shopping, organizing and distributing meals.
If some of the shoppers do NOT shop sales then you could end up with an expensive bill to split. 
It’s exhausting to shop for everyone for all those meals. 
When you are the shopper you may have to put all the food on a credit card to pay for it… or have an extra $400 or more in a checking account until the swappers can pay you back.

Maggie’s Tips:
*I suggest you shop in pairs. With 4 in a group- you would trade off each month with the other two gals.
*You need to check sales ads and try and find the best deals. Usually for canned foods Walmart has the best prices. The warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club have great deals on bulk sized canned veggies, seasonings, and dairy items plus cheese.
*Make sure shoppers are able to put purchases on a credit card or a checking account that can be paid back two weeks later. If you shop in pairs you can split the upfront expenses. You will collect checks or cash on swap day and will then be able to pay back the credit card or checking account.

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