Co-op cooking—friends hanging out and cooking together—is huge...and for good reason. You can save money (as much as $250 a month) by buying food in bulk, making a bunch of recipes and packaging them to freeze. So get your BFFs together, cook for a day and have made-ahead meals ready in the size that works best for you.
5 steps to easy meals
- Get the group together and decide on easy recipes that freeze well.
- The host buys the groceries. (And maybe few bottles of wine.)
- Divvy up the grocery bill so everyone who cooks pays an equal share. This keeps recipes cheap.
- Work together to make big batches of the recipes you planned.
- Bring containers from home to package up what you make.
- When you get home, freeze the meals... and congratulate yourself for being so smart.
Make & freeze weeknight dinners for a week!
These are good choices to make ahead and freeze. While the meal reheats, bake some Crescents or breadsticks... sound good?
Ten tips for freezer success
Convenience rules when you make ahead and freeze. Here's some things to keep in mind:
- Freeze casseroles before or after baking. Either works.
- Bake frozen casseroles about 10-15 minutes longer than the recipe specifies. (Keep an eye on it as it bakes.)
- Fresh potatoes do not freeze well, nor do sour cream, half-and-half or ricotta and cottage cheeses.
- Cook meats, veggies and pastas just until tender because they will cook more during reheating.
- Add crisp toppings like nuts, crushed chips or bacon after the dish is thawed.
- Cool foods before freezing. Store at 0 F or colder.
- Freeze foods in sizes just right for your family. Individual servings are always handy.
- Use airtight containers that can go from the freezer to the oven or microwave.
- If microwaving frozen casseroles, stir during reheating. For a dish that can't be stirred, like lasagna, let stand to allow heat to equalize.
- Use frozen foods within 3 months.