Last week I tweeted that I was making Coq Au Vin and Scalloped Potatoes with fennel and smoked gruyere for twenty people. But what I didn't mention was that the meal was not to be served at my table.
In fact, after preparing that meal all afternoon, I carefully packed eight pyrex dishes into our family van (keeping a serving of each at home for my own family, of course) and hit the road, delivering meals to the families of four of my closest friends.
I have done this every Tuesday for the past four weeks.
So, why go through all this trouble? And why on earth am I so pumped about it? It's not because I'm some kind of saint. Certainly I'm getting something in return, right?
Tuesdays are my days to cook, yes. But on Monday, Danielle brings Beef Stroganoff, and Wednesday Rebecca makes a killer Stromboli, Thursday, Christy brings Harvest Pork Chops and Friday Christi delivers to my door a delicious bowl of Texas Caviar. Right at 5:00, hot and ready to eat.
And so goes our little supper swap.
We keep track of what each of us will be bringing every week in a shared Google Doc, even leaving a column for feedback and a star rating system.
Our vision is to bless one another by cooking for one another.
We all have families with 2-5 kids, so we've agreed to always serve each family enough to feed four adults. (This leaves enough leftovers for our family to cover lunches during the week too!)
Every weekend I only have to buy groceries for one big meal, which saves money because buying more of the same ingredients is much cheaper than buying lots of different ingredients.
We have also eliminated dining out from our weeknights almost entirely since there's never a 5 o'clock "what's for dinner" conversation. HUGE budget savings there.
We're eating healthy, well-rounded meals. We're greeting each other every night with news about our families and questions about each other's. (Or finding our meals in coolers on the front porch if we're not planning to be home at 5.) On occasion we're sitting down to our meals together. (Since the food is prepared, why not enjoy it together?) And best of all?
We're living in community.
We're finding joy in delighting each other with good food. We're spending more evenings each week on the floor with our children instead of in the kitchen feeling harried. We're learning each other's likes and dislikes - sparing mushrooms where they need to be spared and adding chicken where it's been enjoyed and requested.
And so this season of life goes. With small children at home and homes in ridiculously close proximity, this new system works swimmingly for us. We eagerly check the menu for the week and look forward to all the things our friends have in store for us.
And THAT is why on earth I'm making Coq Au Vin for twenty people! :)
(And if I may add - since this co-op has begun, I have been surprised to find that I've lost 3 pounds! Turn out eating in vs. eating out has more than just financial benefits!)
So, the question is now - have any of y'all done this before? I recently noticed that this month's Real Simple magazine actually has an article in it about supper swaps. I know it's not a new idea, but I wondered if it was newly becoming a thing again. I'd love to hear from you! Have you done it? What has worked well or worked poorly? I'll try to answer any questions in the comments section by commenting back if you feel like discussing.
In the meantime, I'm already setting my table for the Potato Soup and salad that's scheduled to arrive in just a few hours...