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maudie's avatar

Have you ever participated in a long-term meal sharing arrangement?

Asked by maudie (363points) March 8th, 2010

I’ve read about families in neighborhoods or in cooperative living arrangements sharing the workload of grocery shopping and preparing meals by having each family in the group cook one big meal per week with enough portions to share, than swapping the spare portions with the other families in the group. Have you ever done this or something similar to this? How did it work out? What were the pros and cons? What worked? What didn’t work?

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6 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

My sister did this for about a month. It was only Monday-Thursday. She absolutely hated it. One of the things she hated was when it was her night to cook dinner for four families. Then she had to deliver to 3 house on her night. And then she had to arrange a time to pick up her dishes from the three other families. She bailed as soon as she could find a replacement.

Ordering a pizza or Chinese ended up being easier if she didn’t feel like cooking.

mrentropy's avatar

I almost think I would enjoy something like this. It would give me a lot of people to bounce new recipes off of. If worse came to worse, they’d just exclude me from the group.

YARNLADY's avatar

Not like you describe. I have participated in a group sharing meals where all the people gathered in one place and shared the cooking, shopping, and such.

zina's avatar

My partner and I did this with another couple, who were friends of ours. We were already friends when they moved just one block away. Each of the four of us cooked dinner one night Mon-Thurs, and we ate at that apartment where the person cooked (so you were only cooking for four people, a standard family portion and not much more work than cooking for two). It was a great arrangement in terms of each of us individually not needing to come up with a good dinner every night of the week, and since you had your one night you tended to make something special or at least really good and complete. Everyone ate a bigger variety of foods than we would have made ourselves and we were always learning new recipes from each other. The flip side was that since we ate together is was social hour every evening (four days per week), and although that was fun it also became a little difficult when we had other things we wanted to take care of in the evenings, and it felt rude to just show up, eat, and leave quickly. I wonder what other arrangement could accommodate that. Surprisingly, I don’t remember coordinating the time of dinner being a problem, even with all of our busy schedules, although it strikes me now that that could be difficult.

Another example is when we lived in cooperative houses. In one case, we lived in a big house with 7 people, during college and post-college years, and each person cooked one night per week at the house. Whoever was there at dinner time ate, and whoever wasn’t ate leftovers later when they got home—and that was really nice to always have food ready whenever you came home. One person had the job of grocery shopping for the house, and others had other jobs, so that everyone was putting in a similar number of hours into household things every week. You could add to a list of things you wanted that person to buy if you wanted special ingredients for your meal that week, or they just bought the weekly items and what was in season and you made your meal with what was available in the house at that time (which was always plenty, as we were well-stocked with bulk foods – and it’s easier to stay well-stocked with that many people). That arrangement worked very well. You really made something good since you only cooked once per week (besides whatever you did for breakfast and lunch), so cooking was more fun and less of a chore, and even better, you had a hot meal ready for you at 6:30 every night of the week right in your dining room. And it was no inconvenience, you could eat and go or linger and socialize, and you could be there or not.

I hope someday to somewhat replicate that system with friends as we raise kids nearby each other. You have to have the right match of people, who you like to spend time with and who have the same general mindset in what they want to eat, and you have to be living in a convenient relationship to each other – whether in the same house, maybe different apartments in the same building or different houses within a community/complex or walking distance, or otherwise on your way somewhere, however you get around. The good thing is that it really doesn’t take many people to make an arrangement that really saves everyone a lot of time and helps everyone to eat better!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I did this briefly when my children were younger, but they didn’t care for what the other people cooked, so we dropped out. I would love to this now, because I’m used to cooking for a family, and now I’m usually cooking for one. I have a few neighbors that I swap dishes with—when I make something that’s good – like soup, chili, an appetizer, sauce – I take it over.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

For the last 15 years, we’ve been providing all the groceries for a womens shelter and preparing about half the meals. We have a large, commercial-type kitchen and it’s about as easy to cook for 25 as for four. With the farm help, whoever has the kitchen duty is now cooking for 35. We have all the large cookware and it’s just a matter of multiplying the recipe proportions. We have a big insulated container to cvarry the ladies meals the few miles to the old homestead house used as the shelter.

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