So one day my friend, Jen, proposes to me that we start a meal share. Like I do very often when I hear a suggestion from my wildly creative friend Jen, I immediately said, "Yes. Let's!" even though I did not know exactly what starting a meal group entailed. I suspected that it might mean sharing food with one another family so that we can all cook less but I wasn't sure if it would actually work. But I had always believed that a communal/shared way of life was a more efficient and social way of living that is missing greatly from modern day society, so I wanted to give this a shot. Well, almost a full year later, after evolving our systems and adding a third meal share member, I can tell you, meal sharing has worked wonderfully well for me and my family. Here's how it all began:
I would cook on Mondays for my family of two and Jen's family of three and deliver the food to them. On Thursdays Jen would reciprocate and deliver food she cooked to my house. The only rules were the food had to be vegan (no problem, we are long-time vegans) and no hot food in plastic (also no problem once I got used to keeping empty glass jars of all sizes on hand). I will admit, I did struggle with doubling the amount of food I was preparing because for so long I was used to cooking for just two. But boy, did Thursdays make up for it when we got to enjoy a hot delicious home-cooked meal without having to lift a finger!
And I was a little timid at first about cooking for Jen's family, not knowing what kind of food they liked. But before long, my confidence grew as I got reports back from Jen about what was especially liked. Plus after receiving Jen's dishes I gauged that her family had a expansive palette and were open to anything- which is an unexpected side-effect of meal-sharing: my cooking has gotten better under the pressure of cooking for another family, and my range of recipes has increased greatly from swapping food and ideas with Jen.
Recently another friend, Rachel, joined our meal share (which we now refer to jovially as "Meal Group") and it seems that three is the magic number. I still cook on Mondays, Rachel cooks on Tuesdays, and Jen cooks on Thursdays. So I just had to increase my recipes for two extra people on Mondays, and basically I don't really cook again until the weekend. There are usually leftovers throughout the week to put together some sort of dinner on the week nights that we are not sharing meals (Wednesdays and Fridays), and weekends have always been grab and go, or eating out anyway. So not only am I eating more of a variety of foods- all healthy, wonderfully imaginative vegan meals- I am cooking way way less. We all are!
And that means we all save energy too because we are all turning on our stoves and ovens less. Hmmm, using less energy and living more healthily by working together......this meal share thing could be like the next carpooling!