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Meal Swap

So this is not along the lines of one of my normal posts but I wanted to share with all you lovely ladies something that makes my life as a mommy, housekeeper and wife so much easier!

For the last 2 years I have been part of a group of ladies that share the burden of dinner making. It has saved me a bit of money, helped my children try different cooking styles, and made my life SO much easier.

Here is how it works,

Myself and 2 other mommies got together and worked out a plan to lessen the load of dinner making. We talked about what we wanted from our group and what we didn’t. We laid down some rules and made up a schedule for the month. The first month we worked out any kinks and then we never looked back.

This is very important.  If you are thinking about starting a meal swap group you need to have a sit down with all involved and figure out what is going to work for your group.  Then go at it for a month,  then meet again and make sure everyone is happy. 

Here is what our group figured out.:

  • Once a week I make a meal that will feed my family and 2 other families
  • Twice a week one of my girl friends brings my family a meal
  • Rules that work best for us:
    • Our meal must be able to eat by 530
      • So we bring it hot around then or bring it over early enough that the family that it is being dropped off with can get it heated up by then
    • On your day you are responsible to get your meals to each families house
    • To make the price fair we use a pound of meat in each families meal
    • We use GoogleDocs to write up a little calendar so we all know what is coming that day, we try to have a couple weeks posted
      • No similar meals in the week, so if a friend is doing tacos on Monday I can’t do burritos that week, we pay attention to what is on the calendar already and fit our meals in to keep a variety for each week
    • Our families are a little different in size and how much we eat so we decided we needed to bring enough food to fill a casserole dish…in general. All of our families like left overs so we decided to make a bigger amount of food. If we do soups we put it in 2 quart sized mason jars. All of our meals feed 4 adults and a couple children, so for my family we almost always get a dinner and a lunch out of each meal.
    • We decided not to do sides, if the meal is simple, like sloppy joes, usually we will throw in a bag of tater tots , but in general it is just the main course

Tips:

  • Figure out what rules work for your group. I would suggest having a time dinner needs to be at the houses. I also highly suggest having a system to know what meal is coming so you know what side you want to prepare for it.
  • What worked best for us is each of us have a day of the week we bring our meal, I am Thursday! I know every Thursday I will make a big mess of the kitchen and get my task done.
    • We chose to do Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and it has worked great for us
  • In our first meeting we talked about general likes and dislikes. Things like is spicy food okay? How about seafood? That first meeting needs to be a get to know you…foodwise.
  • I have had friends do a meal swap that had a lot of rules. They didn’t do theirs for very long. Be careful about how many rules you make, you want this to be helpful for everyone, not a burden. Right now my group is doing all their meals dairy free. It has been a little more work picking meals, but it has worked okay.
  • Figure out what you want to do if someone will be out of town for a week.  For us we usually just take the week off. 
  • You want 3-5 families to be in your group. Less than 3 isn’t worth it. 5 can feel like too much. I have been in groups of 3 and 4 and both worked out great.
  • Be flexible, my friends and I are always swapping days and helping each other out. If you think of the group as a team it works really well

Let me know if you have any questions or ideas, this idea is always changing and I’d love to get any input!

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