How would your lifestyle change for the better if a healthy meal were ready when you return home from work? No more scrambling, improvising, takeout or clean up. How would you fill your freed-up time?
What if I you could accomplish this in a few hours per week and it would only require planning ONE meal?
Years ago I watched The Happy Movie and was awed by a 30-family commune in Denmark who ate together every night. They were happier because they had time to play and do homework with their kids instead of slaving in the kitchen. Plus, they enjoyed the nightly social gathering. They discovered an efficient, happy way to eat.
I've racked my brain trying to figure out how to replicate this in our independent living spaces and want to share the results so that you too can save time and money without compromising healthy eating. A year ago 2 of my friends and I started Supper Swap. Here's how it goes:
- Each family (2 parents and a child) make SIX portions of food - roughly, a 9x13 pan or a main dish and a side. (We joke that we are cooking for the Duggars). This makes enough for each family to have TWO meals.
- Whomever is inspired first sends a group text stating what she will make. Others work around that so there is variety.
- We meet Monday evenings at 5 p.m. at a central location to swap.
- If one person is out of town, they can either skip that week or can arrange to pick up and drop off at the other members' houses.
Every Monday night, my fridge is full of SIX home-cooked meals for the week.
Our group eats similarly. We are protein and veggie kind of people. It is OK to buy what is on sale, but we source as organic, local and whole as possible. Here's an example of a weekly "swap:"
- Teriyaki chicken with broccoli, rice and a garden salad
- Spaghetti squash lasagna with sauteed mushrooms
- Fish tacos with salsa, avocado, cilantro, cabbage, limes and corn tortillas
Can you tell we eat well? It's been an amazing variety of food. Dinner is exciting!
The social benefits are many. We have become like sisters. We've squabbled and worked through details and expectations. We have learned to be gracious with ourselves and others as some of the meals are flops. We joke about who is "the weakest link" that week (usually me). One member cooks from her secret family recipe book. Another member is a chef and makes creative, flavorful meals. Occasionally we have time to eat together or linger to socialize. I adore my swapper sisters. Happy first anniversary, ladies!
Sharing food is intimate and it makes us put forth our best effort. Sometimes we make enough to have extra and either freeze for later or share with a friend in need.
Did I mention it saves a tremendous amount of money? Not only can we craft our meals around what is in season and on sale, but when there is food in the fridge, we rarely eat out. Often we have enough food to pack for lunch the next day.
Now I have time at night to exercise, socialize, garden and do the things I love.
Are you convinced? Why not create your own permutation? Maybe you have a best neighbor and you can eat at each others' house once a week. Maybe you and your co-workers can lunch swap.
Here are tips to get started:
- Find a friend or two with similar diets and family size
- Ideally they are family, neighbors, co-workers in close proximity
- Craft the rules
- Set and commit to a trial...6 weeks minimum
- Always give your best
- Practice gratefulness and forgiveness
- Let the husbands lead the swap some weeks
How can I help you in your journey? Reach out and remember that we can meet and your insurance can pay.
Please share this post far and wide. Let's transform the way America does dinner.
Esther Hansen, RD FtCollinsWeightLoss.Com firstname.lastname@example.org