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Helpful Heather

June 2, 2009


Needed: Kitchen Assistant, able to work odd hours, on demand, and do many things at once!

This was an ad that I was contemplating posting somewhere, anywhere, in hopes of gaining an extra hand (or four) when preparing my meal the other night. Let’s face it, during the five o’clock “witching hour” as I call it at our house, it is difficult to try to get all the things you need to get done, finished, and dinner on the table…all before the kids need to be in bed. So, as I was lamenting my plight about how to get it all done, I came to the conclusion that I was it.  I was the kitchen assistant. That realization quickly turned to the fact that I WAS it and I could do it…with a little planning and preparation ahead! Now, what do I mean, other than adding inflection to different parts of the same sentence? Well, to understand that, you need to know that I once was a part of a cooking co-op.
For those of you who are not familiar, a cooking co-op (at least for our group) consisted of a group of families (at least two and up to five, possibly even seven) where you agree to prepare meals for those in the group on a certain day. So, for example, if there were three families who agreed to participate, you might choose to take a MWF approach. On Monday, one family would make the same meal three times (one for each of the other families as well as one for themselves) deliver it and Monday’s dinner is done! Then the other families would do the same thing on their days. This can be a great cost savings to some, because you can purchase meats in larger quantities and sometimes find  a better deal. Then once your day to prepare meals is done, you have two days “off ” and your kitchen doesn’t get messed up, etc.
Some things to think about when getting started: 
  • First, are the families about the same size or ultimately would portions be about the same? You could become creative and let a family with parents and two kids under 4 who might eat presumably three portions between them join with a couple who may eat only two portions, but then take the “third” for lunch.
  • Next,  you may want to consider food likes/dislikes and/or allergies. This may be the deal breaker for your particular group. For some, you may leave out a certain ingredient if they don’t like onions, or peppers, etc.
  • Lastly, you need to decide if you want to just cook the main dish or the whole meal. Some co-ops I have heard of, have done the whole meal including main dish, sides, and dessert. The one I participated in only did the main dish and we (the receiving family) provided the sides. Since the meals were planned out in advance, I planned that into my weekly shopping and had the sides ready.
There are many benefits I gleaned while doing a cooking co-op and I will share more with you next week, but this should get you started. Truly for me, the main reason in trying a cooking co-op was to get more meal planning ideas. I was beginning to think you could tell the day of the week it was just by what we were having for dinner. It must be Monday because we are having meatloaf. Turkey? It’s got to be Tues. etc. In the long run this worked out and it taught me that I could branch out a bit and that my family of somewhat picky eaters, were even willing to try new things just because someone else prepared it!


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