Tip 4. Supper Swap!

Cook only one night a week.

You want to prepare exciting, nutritious meals throughout the week, but busy schedules often mean the same ho-hum recipes. Wouldn't it be nice to have a fresh, home-cooked supper delivered a few nights a week? A cooking co-op could be the answer, and it's easier to set up than you might think.

The idea is pretty simple, you cook a big meal once a week to share with your co-op and, depending on the number of people in your group, you get two or three in return. That means you save trips to the supermarket and really only mess up the kitchen once. For the rest of the week take advantage of leftovers or prepare simpler meals.

The co-op meals usually consist of a soup, main dish, vegetable, and starch. In addition to saving money, a co-op allows a family to consistently eat a wider variety of foods and time spent in the kitchen drops dramatically."

Handy tips on starting a co-op,Getting Started:

  • Keep the group small (a co-op of three to four families of similar size is ideal).
  • Create your own general guidelines (such as vegetarian, nothing too spicy, or no fish).
  • Make the group aware of allergies and nutritional needs.
  • Set up delivery times that are convenient for everyone, such as when picking kids up from school or soccer practice. Have a cool box at the door if you are not likely to be in.
  • Be honest. If your family doesn't like something, tell the group so no one wastes time and effort.

Food Preparation:

  • Try to include at least one vegetable and one starch with every meal.
  • Deliver a meal that is ready to go except for reheating or that requires only minimal work to finish.
  • Package food in containers that are both freezable and reheatable.
  • Most recipes yield 6 to 8 servings, so you may need to double or make recipes twice to serve everyone in the co-op.

    This is what Trish did: