Swap Ready

Group Cooking – Getting Started

You may already have a group in mind. You may even have them excited about cooking already! Others may be starting completely from scratch. Either way, consider the following as you begin the process of planning and inviting folks to your freezer cooking group:

  • Location – Members have a convenient place where you all can meet to swap meals. Or if you are cooking together, pick a home or place with plenty of counter space.
  • Food Type – Members share interest in eating similar foods. Ask about allergies and food sensitivities. (See here for more details on menu types.)
  • Calendar – Everyone has time available to cook and to meet.
  • Budget – Ensure everyone is aware of the upfront cost of freezer cooking.

If you still need direction on who to invite, think about who you know:

  • extended family and friends
  • co-workers
  • church groups
  • clubs, teams, or a group from the gym (think diet or paleo menus!)
  • parent groups or play groups
  • school groups or study groups
  • neighborhood or dorms
  • etc, etc. The list goes on and on!

We have developed a series of worksheets to guide you through the planning process. These worksheets include an invite list, an invitation and survey for potential members, instructions for how to break up into sub-groups if your group is large, how to choose between a Full Menu and a Mini Menu, and how to choose a specific menu type. You will also see estimates on how much money and time you will spend based on those choices.

If you have a community in mind that you know fairly well already → Start with the Planning Worksheet, then hand out the Invitation and Survey for more detailed information. Choose a specific menu by using the Assessment Worksheet.

If you are just getting started building your swap community → List the names of those who may be interested in the Planning Worksheet and distribute the Invitation and Survey. Proceed to the Assessment Worksheet when they have responded, then complete the Planning Worksheet and choose a specific menu.


Once you have chosen a specific menu, assign recipes to each member of the group and make sure that they have access to recipe cards and labels. All that is left to do is cook, swap, and enjoy your food and community!

5 Responses to “Group Cooking – Getting Started”

  1. Vickie says:

    How many people do you recommend being in a group?

    • Lisa says:

      Vickie – If you are doing a group cooking day in your home, we suggest no more than 4 people. If you are doing a swap, 8 would be the most we would recommend.

  2. […] Designate one person to serve as an administrator (can be you or someone else) to keep track of group communication, reminders, maintain the cost analysis sheet, and be sure that every pays/is paid what they owe/are owed. You can also start a Google group or a Facebook page for your meal swap to keep track of things in one place as opposed to an email chain. […]

  3. Pam says:

    I am going to attempt again to introduce this idea at our church. Is there an invitation for cooking together at the church on a specific day as opposed to the invitation here that assumes everyone prepares their food ahead of time and then swaps? Thank you! :-)

    • Katie says:

      There isn’t currently but you could use the same invitation and change the swap to “cook”. Such as- “we will meet monthly to cook on…”. I can definitely add the request to our list and see if we can get one together for you! Want to email me at katie at onceamonthmeals.com so I can followup? Thanks!

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