Neat, Simple Idea: The Cooking Co-op

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Members of a small group takes turns cooking, and the result is that everyone saves time and money—and, depending on who is in your group, you eater better food than you’d scrounge up yourself.

A NY Times writer explains how things work in her co-op, which consists of four households living in the same apartment building:

Once a week, you cook a dish (chicken enchiladas, for instance), making enough to provide at least one serving for each adult member of the co-op. (Children can be assigned half or full portions, depending on ages and appetites.) Around the same time, your fellow co-op members are cooking large batches of their chosen dishes.

After setting aside a pan of enchiladas for your household, you divide and package the rest, usually in reusable containers, and label them with reheating or assembly instructions. Members then gather and swap dishes, each walking away with a variety of meals for the coming week’s dinners and, often, leftovers for extra meals and lunches.

Your big batch of enchiladas has bought you three smaller batches of, say, Greek watermelon-barley salad, lentil soup and Vietnamese pork salad.

Some co-ops swap food only once a month, and while it helps if members live in the same building or are next-door neighbors, close proximity isn’t necessary. What’s probably more important is that you join a co-op with good cooks.