Our Little Food Swap

Inspired and intrigued by the NYTimes article “Saving Time & Stress with Cooking Co-ops”, Stacie and I wanted to do a trial run of a food swap with some of our friends.  For days it was all I could think about since it’s a great concept.  Cook a big batch on a Sunday, swap with 4-5 other families and you have food for the whole week!  I even bought the “Dinner at your Door” cookbook to get us started.

According to the NYTimes article, “A cooking co-op, or dinner swap, is simply an agreement by two or more individuals or households to provide prepared meals for each other, according to a schedule. The goal is to reduce the time spent in the kitchen while increasing the quality and variety of the food eaten.”  Free time and variety!  We often get stuck in a rut and end up cooking the same 10 things over and over again and it would be helpful to get some fresh ideas and also expose the kids to some “new” foods. We were both completely sold and couldn’t wait to try it out.

Unfortunately, I had the toughest time finding friends who wanted to participate in our little food swap.  I am known to be persuasive (almost “pushy”) but I couldn’t even “close” one friend to participate in our little family food swap.  I would get close to finding someone and then it would fall apart.  Some friends were out of town or had other commitments, some were afraid to cook in big batches and others just did not want to exchange with Stacie and me for fear of having their dishes critiqued by the two of us (btw, totally unfair assumption that we would be critical).  I had no luck convincing anyone that this was just a trial run for fun and I would not be critical or laugh at their cooking skills.  Our experiment almost did not happen, if not for Stacie finding two of her childhood friends who were willing to participate.  It was a wonderful and diverse group and we were all set!

We met on a Sunday morning at Stacie’s place, enjoyed a little breakfast and catch-up.  The kids sat at the little table and mimicked the adults and shared bagels and priceless conversation.  It was a delight watching everyone roll in with their containers of freshly cooked, delicious meals.  We ended up with quite a spread:

  • Tomato soup and all the fixin’s for grilled cheese sandwiches (think a 3-cheese blend and crusty bread).  Stacie even gave everyone a laminated copy of the recipe and we have since made the soup and it was ridiculously good
  • Channa masala (Indian chickpea stew) and a spiced spinach with 2 cups of uncooked jasmine rice for each family
  • Veracruzana fish and Mexican rice (big hit with Ria)
  • Zucchini/Vegetable stew

It was a good week.  It was an easy week.  And it was a big hit with everyone.  I hope my friends are reading this and will participate next time or start their own food co-op. 🙂

We are collaborating with 18 Reasons and will be co-hosting a Homemade Family Dinner Swap at the 18 Reasons space in the Mission on Sunday, October 10th from 4:30 to 6 pm. There will be snacks to munch on and then you get to take 4 different meals home.  Feel free to bring the kidlets if you like, or stop by yourself. Hope to see you there!