“What’s for dinner?” is the five o’clock question heard around every home. I think we can all relate.
Whenever I asked this question, it was with eager anticipation and hope; hope that there is something new and exciting, hope that leftovers was not the answer, hope that it was not the dreaded same meal that seems to grace your plate every week. It is hard today for whoever is trying to balance meal prep with work schedules. In 1950, only 20% of households had both parents working full time jobs, today 60% of household have both parents working outside of the home. The questions of health and cost weigh on us all as well as how to create meals that are quick, easy, inventive, appetizing, all while trying to do everything else that is required of us today.
My friends introduced me to a wonderful idea that they’ve been practicing once a month in hopes of saving money and time, in addition to creating a warm and healthy meal for their family and friends. They call it the food exchange. Each month, the five of them make five of the same dishes, with some parameters: it needs to either be frozen on delivery or is easy to freeze and it needs to appeal to various taste buds. The following day they get together, socialize and walk out with five frozen meals. They love this practice because it cuts down on trips to the grocery store, saving time and gas. The headache of what to make is gone when they go to the freezer and find five homemade options. They can buy the ingredients in bulk which also saves money. It introduces them to new food ideas, and they pass out the recipe card to go along with the dish so that they can keep the ones their families love the most.
Some tips to host your own a food exchange:
- Always keep in mind your audience and any food allergies and likes and dislikes, classic meals and simple meals seem to be the most appetizing to families with children.
- Themed exchanges are fun, like crock pot soup exchange or appetizer exchange.
- Making dishes that are versatile lets the family enjoying them add their own twist. For example, one meal was a cilantro chicken dish, one family had it on pasta, and another ate it with tortillas. The options are endless.
So if you need some food inspiration, get together with your friends and plan an exchange. Get ideas from an upcoming casserole or crock pot class at The Chopping Block. Check the monthly schedule and then make a plan to share what you learn with your friends.
What do you think of the idea of a food exchange?