What could be more community building than to support and nourish each other through sharing a meal? Several HMN Chapters have gathered together to create large batches of meals as a group or prepared foods individually and met up to swap. Freezer meal swaps are a great way to connect with your chapter and save your family lots of time preparing healthy meals.

To make it simple, understand any dietary restrictions of the group first and then have each person select a favorite recipe to share that is great for freezing. Each person can make 5-6 batches of the same meal, package them with a label for preparation and freeze them. Choosing recipes that you do not cook first makes preparation fast and easy. Then the whole group gathers and lets everyone choose 5-6 other meals they would like to take home. You save time preparing large batches of the same item, get to try your friends favorite recipes and have an easy back up dinner option ready to go for those busy weekday evenings!

Many recipes are great for freezer meals, soups, quiches, casseroles and meat dishes all can be easily prepped to cook at home in a crockpot, instant pot or oven. Our Essex NJ Chapter made items like Vegetable and Bean patties, Curried Lentils and Cauliflower and Sante Fe Chicken. Try these recipes to kick off planning a freezer meal swap for your chapter!

Sante Fe Chicken

  • 15oz black beans, drained
  • 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
  • 10 ounces tomatoes & green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1.5 lbs breasts of boneless skinless chicken
  • olive oil
  • dairy free/regular cheddar cheese (optional, use day of)
Directions: Combine beans, corn, tomato and cumin.  Place chicken on a square of foil, drizzle with olive oil).  Spoon bean mixture on top of chicken and close foil packet.  Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.  Place in gallon bag and freeze.
To prepare: Defrost overnight and cook on grill for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.  If you prefer to use your oven, you can place the packet in a casserole dish and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Vegetable and Bean Patties/Burgers
  • 2.5 c pinto beans (cooked with kombu)
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, minced
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions: Place the beans, oats and ketchup in a food processor; cover and pulse until blended. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in the vegetables, garlic and seasonings. Shape into patties freeze on a baking sheet and transfer to a freezing bag.

To use frozen burgers: Unwrap burgers and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through, turning once. (or pan fry!)

Curried Lentils and Cauliflower
Recipe from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

  • 1 cup dried lentils, washed and drained 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 3⁄4 cups water, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ghee or extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets 
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Optional: Fresh spinach, 1⁄2 cup roasted cashews, for garnish

Directions: Place all ingredients except water in a gallon bag, flatten and remove air. Freeze.

To prepare: Defrost overnight. Toss in your slow cooker add 2 3/4 cups water and heat on LOW for 6 – 8 hours or High for 4-6. Serve over whole grain.  Optional: garnish with fresh spinach leaves and/or roasted cashews.