There are many things to consider when first putting together a cook day club. Here’s a quick list of some first questions?
How many people?
How many meals will be cooked each time? 4-6 meals (dinners / breakfasts / healthy snacks)
How often will we meet?
Who will purchase?
Where will we cook our meals – rotations / 1 house?
What time of day? Evenings – while husbands watch kids, during the day with kids?
What do you do if people miss (unforeseen emergencies, sick kids, or maybe just on vacation)?
If cooking together during a normal meal time – who and how will meals / snacks (for kids) be provided?
How long will our cook day last?
Here are some of the things we have discovered throughout the years that have worked well, along with those that didn’t work so well 🙂
How many people? We have found that 3-6 people has worked best, with 6 being the ‘magic’ number that seems to flow the best. We have tried with 7-8 people and it just seemed a little too chaotic. We then chose to split into two groups and now each group has grown to 6 members.I think the reason 6 seems to flow so well, is that the even number makes it easy for multiplying out each recipe and buying groceries, and we often have 1 floater that helps between different work stations…(more on stations later!)
How many meals will be cooked each time? We almost always do 1 meal per person in the cook group so 5-6 meals. We have often made 4-5 dinner and either 1 breakfast item or healthy snack. If the dinner meal has been tried and tested and we all enjoy, we often will double that recipe when we make it – thus adding to our stock in the freezer without much extra effort!
How often will we meet? We meet once a month and generally take the month of August off – too hot in the kitchen, and too busy as people have vacations/camping trips and preparation for school kids. There also seems to be 1 month in the winter when either snow prohibits us from getting together or sick kiddos prompts a postponing.
Who will purchase? We rotate between each member. This means no one buys groceries more than twice a year! Talk about nice!!!
Where will we cook our meals? Because of the location of members in our group (and the other group mentioned) and the size of kitchens we have chosen to meet consistently at 1 house every month. A benefit of doing this has been that we are all very familiar with this one kitchen and things run quickly and smoothly after just a few months. Another added benefit: the excess groceries/spices/supplies stay at one home and don’t have to be moved around and loaded and unloaded out of cars. At the same time, I’m aware of another cook group that meets regularly and they rotate homes each month. The person purchasing groceries hosts and is thereby able to have the food laid out at each station ready to go when people arrive and are ready to work.
What time of day? Of the 3 groups I know of in our little area, 2 groups meet during the day with kids, and 1 group meets in the evenings, while husbands watch kids. Because of some in our group living farther away and many of us not wanting another night away from our husbands and families, we have found it works best for us to meet during the day with kids. It’s also a set play date!
What do you do if people miss (unforeseen emergencies, sick kids, or maybe just on vacation)? We have implemented a once a year ‘excused’ absence – albeit very loosely! 🙂 If you have something that comes up you pay for your meals of course, but we cook your meals! Another idea we have heard of from another group was that the month after you purchased you had an excused absence as a benefit for all the work you put in the month before. I don’t know if I would have ever thought of implementing something like this or mentioning a ‘plan’ for those times, but have heard from others that occasionally they get a person in the group that would love to be a part of it, but for various reasons seems to miss several cook days. That would be hard, so having our ‘plan of action’ makes it easy for everyone. We also have people in our group who occasionally just can’t make it and just let us know that they don’t need the meals that month.
If cooking together during a normal meal time – who and how will meals / snacks (for kids) be provided? We generally start at 900a and finish by 200p ish. With that being said, the person buying groceries buys a small snack for kids and also buys the lunch we will all eat together.
How long will our cook day last? With 5 people making 5 meals, serving snacks, lunch, clean up along with choosing meals for the next month and writing the grocery list, it takes us 5-6 hours. We begin at 900a. The person buying groceries comes at 830a – sets up, 900a we begin. The purchaser generally sets up the snacks for the kids around 1030a. They also get the lunch together so kids eat around 1200p followed by us. During our lunch time we talk recipes for next month. While the final meals are being finished by 1-2 people, another 1-2 people begin with clean up, and 2 of us write the grocery list for the following month. Most people are leaving by 2p ish.. Of course, there are many variables – – – changing kids diapers, setting up a movie for the kids, nursing a child, etc. The evening cook group that we know of meets around 600p and finishes around 1000p – with no meals, no kids, and finishes with dessert and talking through recipes for the following month. The person going home with the tub of food items and recipes then makes the grocery list at another time.
Lots to think about – but it has been so worthwhile. It’s also such a great time for us friends to get together and get something accomplished while enjoying being together!
This post is already pretty long so I will put some more details together in another post in the next few days!