Alright, now that you’ve asked some of the basic questions as in who, where, when, how long, etc. let’s get to some food questions.
A lot of this we have just learned over the years. We have been friends for years so we already know a little about our likes/dislikes, but there was still plenty to learn as we got into this. If you don’t have it all figured out at the beginning, don’t let it worry you. In time, many of these will become second nature in what you know and will take less time to put into consideration.
What dietary restrictions do you each have? (i.e. gluten free, allergic to nuts)
What types of foods do you absolutely NOT eat? For instance in our group, we have 1 person that won’t eat cilantro, 2 people that don’t do seafood, 2 people that don’t do pork. With a couple people not eating some of these meats we generally make vegetarian, chicken or beef. If we make a marinade – you add your own meat in at home and then have the options yourself of adding pork or seafood if you prefer.
How much freezer space does each person have? do you have an additional freezer to freeze the quantities being made? With a couple people in our group not having freezer chests, we have become creative! If a recipe does not have layered ingredients, which need to be in a 9×13, consider putting in gallon size bags and then placing in your 9×13 when you are ready to bake at home. For instance, lasagna would be hard to do, because it has to be put in the 9×13 before freezing (since you can’t easily bring home cooked noodles and freeze separately). On the other hand, enchiladas work well in baggies until ready to make at home in a 9×13. Sauce in one bag, meat mixture in a second bag, shredded cheese in a 3rd bag. At home you assemble when ready and choose whether your family prefers corn or flour tortillas.
Quality/Cost of food – 90% lean meat or 70% lean? Generic brands versus organic?
If there is a huge variety of foods people do and do not like, or even some who buy their meat at the grocers and another buys it from a farm? Are there recipes that people can bring their own fillers/toppings? For instance – can you make a marinade and have people put their own meat in the marinade at home? Or, making a Stromboli or quiche – can the main ingredients be purchased – crust, eggs, cheese, seasonings as a group, and then have everyone bring their own unique toppings (ham, green peppers, mushrooms)?
Survey – how will you determine which recipes you’ll continue making? We use a 3 point survey – 1 – we don’t ever want to make it again, 2 – it’s OK, not outstanding, but OK, 3 – I really want to make it again. I send out an email every couple of months with the list of recent recipes and everyone emails back their responses. I keep this in a spreadsheet for us to review. Some groups have printed this survey out and attach to each meal bag that goes home and then you bring it back…
Look for more tips and advice on cook day planning, coming up soon.