Social Cooking Cultures A mom at my son’s daycare had the following response when I complained of my weekly Sunday meal prep obligation…”In my culture women get together one day a week, bring their children, and spend the day cooking & preparing their meals for the week together. Cooking is a social activity that we enjoy together.”
That comment was fresh in my mind when fellow competition mama Sheri Ciarmella proposed a play date (we bonded at a show when we found we both have sons the same age). I put it out there…”Sheri, what do you think of a ‘meal prep play date’? We’ll each bring ingredients for a few recipes (double batches), prep the meals together while our toddlers play, and we’ll split the food in half at the end of the adventure”. Being a busy fit mom, Sheri was game to try!
Find Your Match
This concept works best if you partner up with a gal with a similar family situation (single/married/similar # of kids). This logistically makes the process easier, as prepping for a family of is different than if you’re single (picture “kid friendly” versus more sophisticated dishes). Also, let’s be honest, single gals can do the prep with a glass of red wine & an episode of Sex in the City running in the background. Sheri & I instead enjoyed a healthy mac & cheese lunch with Disney’s Cars as the ambiance.
Getting Organized & Tips
Sheri & I swapped a number of messages to organize ourselves for his adventure. There certainly was organization and planning needed to pull this off, but we compiled the following tips & lessons learned:
- Clarify any diet restrictions or preferences…I learned Sheri has diabetes and she learned that I don’t eat fish;
- Agree on the menu ahead of time to ensure good variety and no duplication…we each planned a breakfast item, main meat, and snack…I would do chicken & Sheri planned beef;
- Bring enough Tupperware to transport ½ of the meals home;
- Get a medium sized box for ease of transporting groceries & prepped meals; and
- Confirm availability of unique cooking and spices if it’s not at your house.
So How Did It Go?
On Saturday, Sheri arrived at my place, Starbucks in hand & toddler in tow. For the next 3.5 hours we made a complete mess of my kitchen, refereed a number of toddler squabbles, and chit-chatted about competing, our relationships and life. Sure it was hectic…kids are high maintenance…I even messed up one recipe because I was distracted talking, parenting, hosting & measuring all at the same time. But at the end of the afternoon our kids were tuckered out, Sheri & I had prepped more than a week’s worth of yummy healthy eats (some new recipes for both of us), and we really enjoyed each other’s company.
I shooed Sheri & her son out the door before the kitchen was cleaned up as she had an hour travel ahead of her. We hugged & committed to getting together again soon. I woke up Sunday morning with my fridge full of delicious healthy food (what a load off my plate for Sunday!) and reinvigorated by a fun visit with a friend.
Now looking at our North American culture in a different lens, I see us treating cooking as a chore which is done in isolation. No wonder ripping open a package and dumping it into a bowl with water is considered “cooking” these days. I have an appreciation & respect to why some cultures have group cooking sessions as part of their life…new skills are transferred, and communities are built.
I know I’ll be doing this again…would you consider trying?