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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dinner Club


WHO only wants to cook a meal ONCE a week M-TH and have the other three days already PREPPED? If that's you, read ahead.

You're asking, "WHAT IS THIS?" In short, you basically have FOUR families that work together to prepare meals for dinner. So, example, I will take Mondays (I will ALWAYS have Mondays) and prepare FOUR of the one meal and distribute to the other three families on that day by 4:00PM. There will normally be some "cook time" that you'll have to manage, but the prep will all be done. The idea is to have four families that either live in the same neighborhood, or have kids that go to the same school that pick up at the same time, etc. This way its little or NO running around for you. This DOES take a committment, and by that I mean, you can't just try for a week and drop out. There is an initial small out of pocket cost (approx. $20 or so) to buy enough pans, but if you drop out, you will get that money BACK once another person is found to replace your spot in club.

What are the benefits? You only cook ONCE for days Monday - Thursday. Save LOTS of money as you are not having to cook 3 out of 4 days your main meal. LESS DISHES! :) (Huge one for me! :))  The other benefit is that you will get to try different recipes that you probably wouldn't have tried otherwise!

So, to begin, you have to have 6 Pyrex glass 9x13 WITH LID, and 6 Pyrex glass 8x8 pan WITH LID, allowing for every one's meals to be brought and served in those same pans over and over and over. If you start out with this many pans, no one will be “running their pans” to some one's house, if coordinated correctly, they should trickle through each family in need that day perfectly. You can choose to do your meal in the 9x13 or the 8x8. But if you don't use one or the other, you will still circulate the pans every time you bring a meal. This is where you pay $25 for a pan set, EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE SOME.

YOU WILL PREPARE (NOT BAKE) THE MAIN DISH, AND DOES NOT INCLUDE SIDES. So what you bring to us will be for example, Lasagna “prepared” but not baked. We will do the baking.  If our family wants a salad or garlic bread to go along with the "main dish" we are responsible for providing that.

Staples will be a necessity. Example. If you prepare Chicken Cordon Bleu that is a “meal on its own” but your family likes it served over spaghetti, you will need to provide your own pasta for that meal. If, however, you make “Spaghetti,” that is a meal you HAVE to have pasta for and therefore if you're making spaghetti, you'll need to provide the pasta for all four families.

Our group has been using Google Calendar to do all of our menu planning.  We have our meals planned out usually a month in advance.  So at the end of August, we were putting in OCTOBER'S menus.  End of September we'll be putting in NOVEMBER'S mernus.  You get the idea.  Having a calendar that everyone can see/share makes sure no one is repeating the same meal in the same week.  At the end of every week, we go into the calendar and "rate" our meals anonymously in the "location" section on the calendar event. We rate ours with a 1 - LOVE this meal, please make it again; 2 - Meal was tasty, but not necessarily begging for it again; and 3 - Family didn't care for at all, would prefer not to have it again.  This is not meant to be hurtful, just an opportunity for ALL of us to express our opinions as spokes people for our family. Your group will also have some base “rules,” these will be like allergies for a family, this is not “picky” rules. If you don't like green peppers, pick them out. The more specific you get the harder it is to do the club.

Cheat Days! TO BE USED RARELY! My friend that's been doing this for 1 ½ years has only had ONE cheat day in all that time, and each of the other families have only done ONE! Cheat days are if you JUST CAN'T GET THE MEAL PREPARED and you want to bring us all pizzas, or whatever. If we're only cooking once a week, this really shouldn't happen often anyway, but we DO understand if something comes up that was completely out of your control.

So, I think I've pretty much covered all the bases.  If something doesn't make sense feel free to contact me with questions at

This is a picture of one of my meals ready to deliver!


Andra said...

Can I just say, I want to be like you when I grow up?? You're amazingly gifted and committed to family life! Thanks for the inspiration, now I wish we lived closer! :) Love you Jo!

mar10123 said...

Is it also advisable to be in a group with families who are about the same size as yours? If there are only 2 of us now, I wouldn't see the benefit if I were fixing meals for 3 other families with 4-8 people in each family.

Joanna said...

mar10123, yes, it's better that you find a group with the same amount of family members to some degree. Can't always match, but as close as you can get it. Our group prepares for 6 people eating, but some families only have 4 family members, they just have leftovers. Our group has agreed to this. Hope this helps.