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Meal Share

November 4, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

One day my friend, Jen, proposed we start a meal share. Like As I usually do when I hear a suggestion from my wildly creative friend, I immediately said, “Yes. Let’s!” even though I didn’t know exactly what starting a meal share entailed. I suspected that it might mean sharing food with another family so that we could all cook less but I wasn’t sure if it would actually work. But I’ve always believed that a communal/shared way of life is a more efficient and social way of living that is missing from modern-day society, so I wanted to give this a shot. Well, almost a full year later, after evolving our system and adding a third meal share member,  I can tell you that meal sharing has worked wonderfully well for me and my family. Here’s how it all worked out:

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!

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 surmised her family had a expansive palate and was open to anything. As an unexpected side effect, I noticed my cooking got 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 as the “Meal Group”) and it seems that three members 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 then I basically don’t have to cook again until the weekend. There are usually leftovers throughout the week that I can use to put together meals on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on the weekends we tend to grab and go or eat out anyway. So not only am I eating a greater variety of foods—all healthy, wonderfully imaginative vegan meals—I am cooking far less. We all are!

And that means we all save energy because we’re 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!

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