The Freezer Meal Party

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Transitioning into the school year can be tough. It happens every fall, yet somehow it can throw families for a loop. What if you could take making dinner off the daily to-do list, yet still have home-cooked meals on the table every evening?

That's just one of the ways Stephanie Eakins, founder of Retro Dinner Diva, hopes people will use her service: "When my kids were younger and were in all sorts of sports, people were always shocked that I was still cooking at least five nights a week. I wanted to be able to share those things. Planning was the key."

Eakins has been delivering homemade fresh meals on a weekly basis to people's doorsteps for the past year.

"I began to think of ways to expand and solve more problems around getting great food on the table for your family," Eakins said. "I know moms like to get together and have fun. I thought this would solve all those needs."

Enter the Freezer Meal Party. A host chooses eight, 10 or 12 meals to prepare from an extensive list of freezer recipes, which include vegetarian and gluten-free options. "You can tell these meals are deliciously homemade," said Katie Harlor, a recent Freezer Meal Party host.

Each participant prepays for the party, and then Eakins does the grocery shopping, the chopping and any cooking that needs to be done prior to assembling the meals in freezer bags. Party hosts never have to use their stove.

One freezer meal serves three to four people. Pricing ranges from $128 per person for an eight-meal party to $180 for a 12-meal party. A minimum of four guests for a private party is required, and up to 10 guests can be accommodated. Public parties also are scheduled.

First-time guest Kari Irvin said the upfront cost was a hurdle she had to jump but, once she did the math and factored in all the time she was saving, she was sold.

After the Freezer Meal Party, which lasts between two and three hours, each guest leaves with their complete meals ready for the freezer, a checklist with cooking instructions and side-dish ideas to post on the fridge.

But the most important benefit, agreed Harlor's fellow partiers, was freedom from cooking on busy nights of the week. "With four kids and sports schedules, time to cook is hard to come by," said Stacy Taylor.

"When we were done with all the meals from the first party, I knew I wanted to do it again. I missed the convenience. Plus, we saved money by not binge-spending when I wasn't prepared," said Freezer Meal Party veteran Kelly Smith-Armstrong.

"I love how excited everyone is to go home with prepped meals," Eakins said. "And their appreciation that it runs so smooth. The hardest thing you have to do at this party is squeeze the limes."

Visit Eakins' website at