Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Joined A Co-op!

(Edit: There is a debate in my house over the spelling of coop. Would you spelling experts please help? Is it coop or co-op?)

(Edit: Thanks for your input to above question! I think my hubby won the argument, so I changed the title to co-op)
I am so excited about this! I joined three friends in a supper coop! If you have ever thought about doing this, I highly recommend that you give it a try!

Here's how it works: Four families agree that they will work together to provide meals for each other during the week. Each cook is assigned a week day (Monday through Thursday) in which she is responsible for cooking. Today was my day to cook this week. I made enough food to feed all four families, then I delivered them to each home. That means that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I did NOT cook supper! And on those days, a meal was delivered to my home.

This is the second week that we have been doing this, and I am sold on the idea. It has freed me from the large amounts of time I felt like I was spending in the kitchen. I have been able to give more attention to schooling. I have been able to be more flexible with my children and to add more fun activities to our day.

Here are a few tips for starting your own supper coop:

1. Find friends to join you who have similar family size and similar preferences in food.

2. It is important that everyone in the coop live in close vicinity to each other. Spending a lot of time delivering food adds stress and takes up a lot of your time.

3. Have a meeting of all the cooks and plan a menu for a whole month. Make sure the meeting is a low stress event. If at all possible, meet where children are not present. Our next meeting will be at our local coffee shop. We will accomplish our goal in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.

4. Use this meeting to discuss the likes and dislikes of each family as well as the menu choices for the month. Make menu assignments and determine who will be cooking on which days.

5. Determine delivery times. This will vary based on the time of year and the activities in which each family is involved.

6. Be flexible. Life happens and people have activities in their lives which will make flexibility in scheduling essential. One of our coop families is traveling this week, so we agreed to freeze the one meal they missed. They can relax knowing that when they return from their trip, there is a meal waiting for them.

7. Be willing to be honest. If your family doesn't particularly like a certain menu selection, don't hesitate to kindly let the coop cooks know.

8. Don't wear your feelings on your sleeve. Everyone has different taste. If other families don't prefer a dish you made, it's not an attack on your cooking.

9. Choose menus that are not too time intensive to prepare. The idea of a supper coop is to make life easier. Don't get carried away!

10. Budget your meals. Your group may want to agree on a weekly budget per family. Don't let this time-saving idea stress your budget.

11. If you have left-overs, serve them for lunch the following day or freeze them for future weekend meals.

12. Have fun making friends with coop members!

13. Enjoy the extra time with your family or on your favorite projects!

Curious about what we are cooking? See our menu plan for February listed on my recipe blog.

As for what I prepared today: Southwest Lasagna, yellow rice, lettuce salad, and Valentine brownies.


mer said...

I first heard about this idea back in my MOPS days and thought it was fabulous. Sadly, I've never found anyone who shared my sentiment about starting a co-op, but your post has made me want to give it another try! I love that you have some friends to do this with! Thanks for sharing. You really have motivated me to get one going.

Lisa said...

What a neat idea!

Kelley said...

I'd love to get in on something like this - too bad you don't live closer to me! :o(

Main Street Mom said...

You described it beautifully! I am loving this arrangement! Wasn't sure if it could get better than what H.S. & I already had going. I am loving the variety. Also when cooking for 4 families, I am motivated to get the meal cooked and delivered before on my cooking days, when supper time rolls around the evening is rather "stress free".
Thanks again for joining in on a good thing!

KaReN said...

Not that I am the world best speller but I think it should be co-op because you just said you joined a coop of chickens! Seeing the image in my head is rather funny though! Great idea!!

BusyMom said...

This sounds like a great idea. Good luck with your suppers.

Kelley said...

In answer to your spelling question, I like "co-op" because then it's clear that you're not talking about something like a chicken coop. ;)

Anonymous said...

I know your family is in ministry but joining a chicken "coop" would be going a little far. Seriously I believe that it is co-op. So who is right, you or your hubby...if it's him we want tell him! :)

Great idea!

Jenn said...

Sounds like a fun and great idea. I would love to be apart of something like this here. I hope it is going great!