Between hockey and dance classes, piano and Scouts, we feel like we’re constantly on the run. So we grab our food where we can, dropping hundreds of dollars a month in fast-food joints and kicking ourselves for not feeding our families better. Want another way to meal prep? Interested in saving money and having fun with some friends?
Start a Cooking Club. Get two or three (or four or five, depending on how big your kitchen is) friends together on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and cook up a storm. The idea is for each of you to bring the ingredients to make a meal that will feed all of your families.
Let’s say there are four of you in all. Each meal you cook would have to serve four families (or you could bulk up the recipes to double up the output if you like). At the end of the afternoon, you each have four different meals to take home and put in the freezer for those nights when there’s just no time to cook.
There are all kinds of recipes that lend themselves to this approach from spaghetti and lasagna to chili and stew. You can pre-cook chicken with peppers and onions in a taco seasoning and then add the taco shells, salsa and cheese on the day. Make a batch of mushroom chicken and then you need only add the freshly cooked pasta and a salad to feed your family a fabulous meal in very little time.
The key is to have fun while cooking up a variety of dishes. A glass of wine and lots of laughter will take the boredom out of batch cooking, and keep you guessing about what you’ll be enjoying for dinner. (Make sure you only invite friends with similar tastes to yours so you don’t end up with food that’s too spicy or too “weird” for your family’s tastes.)
Shopping in bulk, cooking in large portions and using fresh ingredients to create your own frozen family meals means a higher level of quality and big savings over the fast-food you would have ended up resorting to because you didn’t have a better plan.