Great, I have no idea what we're going to eat tonight. I could make _______ if only I weren't out of ______ (beans, milk, eggs, onions, etc). My blood sugar is low and I need to eat soon. The kids are restless. I wish food would magically appear so I could just spend the afternoon outside, rather than keeping my energetic children in the kitchen and trying to cook while they're whining and begging for something to eat and throwing fistfuls of flour onto the floor....
A month ago, I decided to do something about my dinnertime frustrations. I enjoy cooking--when I don't have children to look after and when I have all the ingredients on hand. I especially enjoy eating good food and trying new flavors. How could I find a way to enjoy cooking, to eat good meals, and to avoid the 4pm doldrums?
I invited two other families to join a dinner co-op. Once a week, we cook and deliver a meal to the other families. Then twice a week, we have dinner delivered to us. We kept our rules simple:
- Meals should be healthy and balanced
- Dessert is optional
- Dinner delivered by 5:30 pm
Here's a rundown of the past two weeks of meals:
- Me: Chipotle black beans with masa dumplings & greens; garlic rice; mesclun topped with with avocados, toasted pumpkin seeds, bacon, queso fresco, & honey/lime/chili dressing.
- The O Family: Thai-style stir fry (lots of veggies & fried tofu) with peanut sauce; basmati rice; pear crumble.
- The P Family: Indian dal (lentil) dish; homemade naan; sauteed vegetables.
- Me: Meatloaf Wellington (a small amount of local pastured beef, herbs, and lots of grated potatoes, carrots, & onions, topped with a crust); arugula & tomato salad; lemon tart.
- The O Family: Butternut squash risotto with parmesan (Cook's Illustrated recipe...mmmm....); sauteed green beans; chocolate chip cookies.
- The P Family: Enchiladas stuffed with sauteed zucchini, beans, & cheese; salad with fresh mozzarella, red onions, cherry tomatoes, and homemade dressing.
Dinnertime has turned from the bane of my existence into something I really look forward to--both the days I cook and the days I receive meals.
On the menu for next week: wild rice soup (I'm a Minnesotan, after all!), homemade bread, and either a salad or dessert.