In our culture, individual family units are responsible for themselves. Each household typically acquires food and then prepares (or at least reheats) it daily.

Historically, this is not exactly how things went down. I’m not going to pretend that I know what it was like, but anthropology does. And what we do in modern times to get food into our bodies and households is actually extremely inefficient, simply because it’s each man for himself.

In December, my friend Michelle and I started having weekly cooking dates. They’ve quickly become one of the highlights of the week for both of us.

Here’s how it works:

One of us picks out the recipes, because that’s something she enjoys (and is good at), and the other one doesn’t.

One of us picks up the groceries, because that’s something she enjoys (and is good at), and the other one doesn’t.

We chose the house with the youngest child involved and we meet there every week. We double, triple, or quadruple the recipes (usually 4 different dishes) and then divide the spoils. Many pots and much Tupperware is involved.

Delicious, nutritious, ambitious recipes that are feeding our families on an impressively small budget per week.

Michelle and I share the joys and trials of the week as we cook and chat, our families underfoot, and neither of us have to touch a baking pan or pot for the rest of the week.

We’ve been asked to share the recipes, but we only just started officially documenting this experiment, so we will get there and share with you soon enough. But here’s just some of the stuff we’ve made (always vegetarian):

  • Black Bean and Squash Enchiladas
  • Mexican casserole
  • Janice Beaton Mac and cheese
  • Caesar salad
  • Rice bowls
  • Coffee and Orange Juice Black bean soup
  • Butternut Squash Chilli
  • Mango and Wild Rice Salad
  • Bourguignon
  • Middle Eastern Plate with Hummus and Falafels

More pressingly, we’ve brought the joy back to cooking. Friendship, love, a sense of connection and joy: this has brought us so much more than just food.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a gift to not have to think about what to make, or what to buy, or what to throw together. It’s been a timesaver to spare the nightly food prep dishes or morning “I need to make school lunch” panic.

But food is more than food. It’s community and connection. And we are building and deepening that with every dish and click of the burner.

So I encourage you, if you are intrigued by this, to scour your Rolodex and reach out to a friend who might want to do cooking dates. It’s life changing.

And delicious.

Forget each man for himself. We are having fun, saving money, tackling ambitious and complicated recipes that neither of us would individually do on our own. I’m pretty sure this is how it’s supposed to be.

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