What You Need to Know to Get Started

Getting Started

Getting started is really as simple as picking a date and gathering some friends. There are a few helpful hints that we've outlined for you here either from our own research or our own trial and error!

  • First, gather a few friends. A total of 3 to 4 people works well for us because none of us have very large kitchens, but you can choose any number. We recommend you start with 3 and add from there as you perfect your process.
  • Pick a date that all you have at least 6 hours available. We've found this is usually how long it takes us from start to clean-up.
  • Choose your dishes and let everyone know so there are no duplicates. We usually cook 3 or 4 different meals each. This gives you between 12 - 16 different meals, some, like lasagne can be packed in smaller dishes (for families of 4 or less) and will give you 2 meals.
  • Plan to double, triple or even quadruple the recipe (depending on how many people you need to accommodate) so that everyone takes home at least one meal large enough for his/her family.
  • Add the items you'll need to your grocery list.
  • Make sure you have lots of tupperware and zip top baggies of various sizes or other freezer safe storage containers. We find that the Gladware and Ziploc Freezer Ware work great! They are inexpensive and come in an array of sizes. You can put them in the freezer, microwave and dishwasher!
  • Meet at someone's house and cook!

Learn From Our Experiences

  • You don't need a big kitchen...put up a card table and use your kitchen table with electric skillets and electric roasters to expand your cooking space. A $30 roaster will act as a 2nd oven and electric frying pans are extremely versatile. Collectively we have 2 electric roasters and 3 electric skillets.
  • Read through your recipes and write down the doubled, tripled or quadrupled amounts on your recipe so you don't make a mistake while trying to cook. Using a plastic sleeve over the recipe and a white board pen works well.
  • Cut up all of your vegetables (or meats), grate your cheese, etc before you begin. Making a recipe that's quadrupled is a daunting task...not having to chop and being able to just throw ingredients in is a huge help.
  • If you have a Costco, Sams, or other grocer that sells large quantities at discount prices, load up on herbs and spices you use often.
  • Invest in at least 1 large stock pot each. I have a 20 quart stock pot that will allow us to boil up to 4lbs of pasta all at once. A big timesaver. It's great for large quantities of soup or sauces too. And it takes up one burner instead of 4 pots on 4 burners or having to repeat a recipe 4x. We have 3 collectively and they are always in high demand.
  • Buy those extra specialty items if you don't have them...like garlic peelers, potato slicers, choppers, etc. It makes a big difference with large quantities.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and an apron...slippers are great too!
  • Put soups or other liquidy dishes into plastic bags when transporting home...they always seem to leak no matter how well you think you've packaged them.
  • We've found that getting food back home takes a 2 cooler minimum.
  • Mix your recipes up...try to vary your ingredients. For example, we each make 1 chicken, 1 beef and 1 pasta dish each session, with the 4th dish being any of those 3 or a pork. This way we don't get too many of one kind of thing (too many beef or too many chicken dishes).
  • Mix up the level of difficulty...don't try to make several really involved dishes all in one session, not only will you get frustrated, but you'll hold everyone up. We try to choose 1 difficult dish (something very involved), 2 medium difficulty and one easy (like a marinade or something quick and easy). You never want to make anything too easy because that defeats the purpose of the cooking session. Don't make something you would be likely to whip out on a weeknight.
  • Buy low sodium soy sauce and skip the salt in recipes! We've found salt gets saltier after freezing!

Food Tips

Foods that DON'T freeze well

  • Sour cream becomes thin and watery
  • Cake Icings made with egg whites become foamy
  • Custard or cream pies become watery and lumpy
  • Fried foods become soggy
  • Soft cheeses become watery (cream cheese, swiss)
  • Mayonnaise separates
  • Cooked egg whites become rubbery
  • Cooked potatoes (other than stews and soups where you can undercook) turn mushy and sometimes black

Foods that CHANGE during freezing

  • Gravies or fat based sauces may separate and require vigorous stirring
  • Thickened sauces may need watered down.
  • Vegies and pastas can be softer after freezing, it is recommended to undercook or add during the reheat.

How long can that food stay in my freezer?
Technically, food in your freezer will last a really, really long time. This guide we found recommends eating foods within a reasonable amount of time to insure quality. We also reccomend you keep your freezer really cold! Like around 0 degrees F.


Precooked Food How Long
Meat (cooked) 2 to 3 months
Poultry (cooked with gravy) 5 to 6 months
Poultry (cooked, no gravy) 1 month
Soups and stews 2 to 3 months
Ground beef (meatballs, meatloaf) 6 months
Poultry and meat casseroles 6 months
Tomato/vegetable sauces 6 months

Safe ways to defrost foods

In the fridge: This is the slow way but it's the best in my opinion. Make sure you give yourself a day or two!
In cold water: Place frozen food in a ziploc type bag and run cold water over it.
Defrost in the microwave: Be careful not to cook the food! Defrost and then heat either in the oven or with the microwave.

My personal preference is to cook foods from frozen. Many of our recipes have instructions for doing this.