When Whole30’er Abby R. (@arebarchek on Instagram) got in touch with us about her Whole30 Meal Prep Parties, we had a few questions: How do these work? Is this something that any Whole30’er can host? Can we come to the next one?

Since Abby lives in Janesville, Wisconsin—nowhere near any of the Team Whole30 members—she graciously answered all of our questions about her Whole30 Meal Prep Parties so that we (and you!) could replicate the fun anywhere.

In Abby’s Own Words

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Like so many others, Whole30 has completely transformed my life. I completed my first Whole30 in May and have done three more since then, while continuing my food freedom journey. My non-scale victories are many: I’ve noticed a huge difference in energy; I no longer struggle with headaches; my workouts at the gym are better; symptoms of carpal tunnel are reduced; acid reflux is disappearing; and overall my lifestyle is healthier.

I share my love of Whole30 eating with anyone who will listen. I open my home to others who want to experience Whole30 and learn how to prepare healthy meals. I run a Facebook group called “I Am Whole30” where we can share encouragement; recipes; good deals we find on compatible food at the grocery stores; and sometimes just commiserate over how much we crave chocolate! My group started with five members and has grown to 46, not including those who do not have Facebook but still attend meal planning nights.

Planning is key to success with Whole30. In June of 2016, I held my first Whole30 Meal Prep Party with five people. We prepared six compatible meals. Since then, I have held two to four prep parties each month and the group continues to grow. I now have around 10 people attending each prep night. It is amazing how good, healthy food brings people together.

Word of our meal prep nights has spread, and I often have one or two new people show up, usually friends of a friend. I think that is so cool! My favorite part of these parties is at the end of all the chopping, slicing, bagging, and labeling, everyone is all smiles talking about how they cannot wait to eat their meals. I truly love the growing the Whole30 community that is now well established in my little Midwest town.

Using Facebook For Whole30 Prep Parties

Early on, I asked our Facebook group if anyone was interested in attending a Meal Prep Party. The response was overwhelming, so I got right to work by getting a confirmed count of how many people wanted to attend and dates that everyone was available. Originally I had 13 people respond right away, but I wanted to keep it to six. I put together two parties so that everyone could attend.

I made two Facebook event invites to make it official and to post all the information because there are a lot of details (i.e. cost, time, what to bring, and menu). Now, every two weeks or so, I post in our group the chosen date for another party and people comment if they want in. People respond if they plant to attend. They also usually ask, “Can I bring a friend that is interested?” My answer is always, YES!

Note:  It is really fun to buy 42 pounds of chicken breasts at the grocery store, and to explain to other customers and store employees WHY I am doing so!

Click here for advice on joining and managing unofficial Whole30 Facebook groups.

Organizing My Meal Prep Parties

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I do most of the work to get the party up and running by following this checklist:

  1. Pick six recipes
  2. Create grocery list
  3. Shop
  4. Label and print recipe cards

I pick six main dish recipes, ideally recipes that yield around four servings. I like the recipe so meet these requirements: A) Whole30 compatible; B) cost efficient; and C) freezer friendly.

I do all the grocery shopping myself since I know what works how to stick to a budget. I have an editable recipe template, and I type all of the recipes into the template and print out copies for each person who attends, so they have them for future use.

I set up six prep stations in my kitchen, one station for each recipe. When my guests arrive for the party I go through each station, describe the recipes and answer any questions before we begin. I assign one or two people to each station, and they prep enough of that recipe for each guest.

I assign more people to the more labor-intensive recipes, and whoever finishes their prep first simply moves on to help someone else with theirs. This keeps movement to a minimum so we are not all running around like crazy and bumping into each other. I try to keep majority of the ingredients fresh so most of the work is chopping and measuring.

Click here to read our 5-part Whole30 freezer cooking series.

Cost, Time and Packing Everything Up

I set a budget of $50 per person, so if eight people attend one party, I know I have $400 to shop for everything including groceries, freezer-ready zip top bags and freezer paper. My guests simply bring their money and a cooler or thermal bag to take their food home in. Since my parties have grown, I sometimes ask people to bring utensils such as knives, bowls, and cutting boards.

It only takes an hour  to 90 minutes to prep six meals. This really motivates people! They love all of the good food they get to take home after just an hour of work. Usually someone says “We’re already done? Wow I won’t have to prep dinner all week!” We have become very efficient. I was a Starbucks manager for several years at a very high volume store so I know how to delegate and run a floor.

Building Whole30 Community

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Once everyone is settled in their stations and the work begins we immediately start talking Whole30. Someone always asks “So how do you know Abby and how did you hear about Whole30?” I love this part. This is where we are all on common ground, sharing victories and struggles with the choices we make with our food with people we have just met. We will talk about past recipes we have made at previous parties or what we think would be good as a side with recipes we are making now.

I hope this post inspires you to plan your own Whole30 Prep Party, and to spread the Whole30 and the message of food freedom in your own community.

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