Over the years, I’ve participated in several different meal swaps. If you aren’t familiar with these, it’s where a bunch of people, mostly women, get together and swap meals. For example I might be in a group with 5 other women. On the designated day I make 6 casseroles and so do all the other women using different recipes than mine. Then we get together, hand them out to each other and we each go home with 6 different meals. (After some awesome Mom-time visiting of course)
The first one I was in was a Freezer-Meal Swap. That meant that the meals we came home with were either already frozen or ready to be frozen. I think it lasted for 8 months or so.
The next time I decided to join a meal swap, we decided it would be a Pantry Meal Swap. All the ingredients needed to be shelf stable.
I was at lunch the other day with a friend and she told me about a fridge-swap that she’d been part of. It was a weekly thing and the meals just went in the fridge for that week’s dinners.
Now there are a few reasons that I’d like to share as why you might not want to join a swap, Do any of these resonate with you?
- You hate to socialize with other people on a regular basis. Commiserating on the trials of motherhood makes you ill.
- You love that angelic question that comes from the lips of your offspring each day, “I’m hungry. WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”
- Your brain just adores thinking of something new, creative, beautiful nutritious and delicious each and EVERY evening.
- You love extra work. In fact you search it out, as much as possible.
- You’ve never had the opportunity to learn about ‘motion studies’ from Frank in “Cheaper By the Dozen” (the original)
- Washing lots and lots of dishes after a hard day of Mom-ing makes you oh, so happy.
- Your family is perfectly content with the same 3 or 4 recipes for dinner. They are just happy there is something….anything 🙂
Now, the readers of this blog are more intelligent than some and I’m sure you can tell by now that the title of this article was a bit (OK, a lot) sarcastic. In fact, I think everyone should be part of a Meal Swap at some point in their lives because:
- It’s rejuvenating to meet with like-minded people on a regular basis, if only to realize that we are not alone in our day to day struggles.
- Meal prep happens in concentrated spurts rather than little bits here and there that can take away from other more important things, like reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books on the sofa to our children or grandchildren.
- We get to try a variety of meals that we might not have otherwise experimented with.
- Grocery bills are lower because we get to purchase ingredients in bulk. I planned my swap selections around the current sales, like when I buy chicken in bulk.
- Daily meal prep is as easy as preheating the oven and heating up the main dish. Add sides and bread if you like and dinner is on the table.
Are you interested yet? There is nothing to lose and so much to gain by sharing the burden and workload with others. Ask around and if there are no swaps with vacancies, start one of your own. The great thing about starting your own is that you get to make the rules.
In our Freezer Meal swap we set rules like these.:
–All veggies either had to be blended beyond recognition or big enough to pick out.
–Meals had to feed 8 adults which usually meant a 9×13 pan. Our families were different sizes but for the smaller families that size left enough for dad to pack in his lunch the next day while still feeding the larger families a full meal, with second helpings sometimes.
–We emailed our meal choices early in the month so we could avoid duplication in the same month.
–Recipe cards were provided with each meal so that if it turned out to be a keeper we’d have it to make again.
In our Pantry Meal Swap (We called it our the PMS Group) these were the rules:
–All ingredients need to be shelf stable
–Meats for the dish were provided by the recipient, this allowed for flexibility at the time of use. If there was power we could use frozen meats, if not we could use our bottled meats (In that group were a bunch of preparedness minded families and this was on our mind quite a bit)
–All ingredients fit into a box about 4 x 10 x 12 for easy stacking in our pantries or food storage rooms. This wasn’t the most space efficient way to store the ingredients but it made it a handy grab and go size. We did a bulk purchase on the boxes so they were very inexpensive.
Meal Swaps are a great way to expand your repertoire at meal time and add variety to the everyday ruts we get into. Have you had a great experience with a meal swap?…or maybe a horrible one? I’m itching to start another swap. Tell me what’s worked for you.
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