Thursday, June 25, 2015

Life Changing Discoveries

Sometimes you come across something that is absolutely life changing. Most things are not, but every once in a while, you find something that is. I have found a few things that I believe have changed the course of my life and have brought peace to my family and to me. I'll be sharing a few of those over the next few weeks.
A few years ago, I discovered that a friend of mine was directing a Freezer Group. This is when several women cook up some meals and freeze them and get together to exchange the meals. I was intrigued. I asked to sub with her group to learn the ropes so that I could start my own group one day. I fell in love with it and began my own group and we've been going strong for three years now. Our name is Freezer Queens. Can you even imagine a better name? We don't wear tiaras and high heels in the kitchen but we think of ourselves as Queens after swap day.
Every month, we go through a cycle and the grand finale is Swap Day. There are 8 ladies cooking and freezing every month. Some ladies are full time and some are part time and cook every other month. The first week of the month, I ask for each Queen to send me two names of recipes and a brief description of each. There's can be big differences in Chicken Casserole so the description helps knowing what is being submitted. I plug these into a cute little spread sheet and we vote on what we would like to see her cook. The majority wins and the menu for the month is set and sent. At this point, we have about 3 weeks to shop and prepare 16, yes 16, of our meal. It's a wild time of finding the best prices and shopping like we are cooking for an army. Some of the ladies cook all in one day (like me) and some spread it out over a few days. I don't like to destroy my kitchen more than I have to and after cooking, it does look like a bomb has exploded.
The preparing and cooking begins and the assembly line starts. Depending on the recipe, this could take 2-3 hours but I've heard one lady that spent 16 hours cooking one month! Oh my! You definitely have to gage what you submit to the time that you have for that month.
Most meals are stored in freezer gallon bags and some are in aluminum pans. We label these bags with the name of the meal, our name, the recipients name the date and cooking instructions. Some write with a sharpie and I usually do labels just because I'm a bit lazy and don't like to use a pen.
The day before our swap, each FQ (Freezer Queen) sends me how much they spent and I figure an average. Those that spent below the average will pay those above so that everyone will pay the same for the meals. There is a huge difference in cost from lasagna to muffins. It's a joy to pay the average and receive all of these delicious meals. I work on these totals for about 45 minutes so it's a little bit of labor but completely worth it the trouble.
Today is the day! It's Swap Day and I wish I had a picture to show you how crazy and wonderful it is all at the same time. I would say that it's organized chaos. I have a circular driveway so each lady pulls in at 4:00 the last Wednesday of the month and the swap begins. There are children everywhere helping their mammas. There is sweet fellowship but not for too long because we have frozen food to take care of quickly so we are working. Two meals go to each car from each car. Money is exchanged and within 10 minutes or so, the world is right again. Each car is packed with 16 meals for the month for around $130 on average.
Oh these meals......I can't even explain the blessings we've received from these delicious meals. I asked my family to tell me their favorite things last week about FQ.
Mabrey said it was fun helping prepare so many meals at once. (This baby is my right hand in the kitchen.)
Ensley said she just loves the food. (She loves food and will eat anything and loves to try new things.)
Scott said he loved the convenience of walking out to the freezer and having so many meals to choose from and working around it with our sides.

I absolutely adore that we get to have a community that we love and get together and swap food and have now been doing it for 3 years!! Is that right? 3 years? I also love the different foods we get to try that would have never made it to our menu if we didn't have this because I seem to always cook the same ole same ole. Now we have variety and beautiful dishes gracing our table.

Yesterday, I had my cousin from Sand Mountain and our friend from Switzerland over to help me with some quilting. It was such a joy. I hadn't been grocery shopping in quite sometime and we had been out late at my parents' home the night before. I didn't stress even though they were to arrive at 8:00 am. I pulled out Banana Nut Bread that my buddy Christie made, let it defrost and sliced and served. For lunch, we heated up Wendy's Famous Sausage Muffins and served with homemade honey mustard. It was simple and delicious. Our focus was on the quilting and not me spending any time cooking in the kitchen. These FQ friends helped me to show hospitality without stressing because I truly had no food in the house except what was in my freezer. Another Freezer Queen success!!

I hope and pray I can always have 7 other friends that want to join me on this adventure. It's been one of those life changing discoveries for my family. I'd like to challenge you to start your own FQ group! It could possibly change your life and you can make some new friends along the way too.



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