Busy moms and dads have found a new way to make things easier on themselves once in a while.
When it comes to dinner, there is a way you can spend less time in the kitchen and still feed your family great meals.
Embracing the “dinner swap” makes making meals more interesting, and doing this a couple of nights out of the week makes it even less stressful because someone else does it for you.
What Is a Dinner Swap?
A meal swap is kind of just what it sounds like, but there’s a little more to it than just swapping a meal. Groups can be smaller, like three people, or larger, but you don’t want them too large, or you’ll still be making a ton of food.
Some groups swap on specific days of the week. For a group of three, you’d have three days in which you swapped. One of those days you would make meals for the other two families and deliver them at dinner time, fresh, warm, and ready to eat.
The other two days, you wouldn’t have to do anything but answer the door when your swap partners deliver your meals.
Some people do freezer food swaps, meeting up once a week to swap a week’s worth of meals with other families.
This makes the idea of swapping even more fun and time-saving.
Why are people embracing this new way of making dinner (or having someone else make dinner for them)? Here are some of the reasons why dinner swapping is popular:
- You spend less time in the kitchen on a weekly basis.
- You get at least a couple of nights free from the kitchen.
- You can buy food in bulk to save money (since you’ll be cooking for more people one day out of the week).
- You get to try new foods and recipes.
- Your freezer will stay stocked with ready-to-cook meals for the whole family.
Preparing for the Swap
When it comes to preparing a dinner swap, there are a few things you want to consider.
1. Family Size
It helps to swap with families that are of the same size. It’s easier, because you’re already used to cooking for this many people. If you’re feeding two families, you just double your recipes. It also makes it fair to everyone when cooking for other families of the same size.
2. Dietary Restrictions
There are many food allergies and intolerances, and they seem to be growing. You may also have certain dietary choices that you prefer, like being a vegetarian. Make sure to work with families that have similar restriction. Be upfront about needing gluten-free meals or strictly no peanut butter because of allergies.
3. Picky Eaters
Children can be picky eaters. Some go through stages where they’ll only eat certain foods. Keep your swap partners in the loop to ensure you get foods your kids will love.
You want to be able to stay in touch, in case of emergencies mainly. Your swappers are depending on you to show up at a certain time with hot meals (unless you’re strictly doing a make-ahead meals swap) – if you’re going to be late, you need to let them know. A group text is a lifesaver in this case.
5. Create Guidelines
Guidelines are important and will help each member of your group know what’s expected of them. This is where you need to talk about the following things:
- Are you swapping main dishes only, or sides too?
- Are you supplying extras, like condiments?
- Should you check in to make sure you’re not making the same thing as one of the other people in the group that week?
- Are meatless meals encouraged? How often?
- What are the alternate plans if one of the swappers will be away on a trip and unable to participate?
- Are repeat meals okay, and how often?
- What types of dishes will you use for swaps (disposable, reusable, “returnable”)?
Going over these questions with the group will help the entire food swap run more smoothly.
You want to make sure everyone is on the same page or you may quickly end up back to making the same old stuff for your family.
Creating Dinners to Swap
When it comes to what you’re going to make to swap, it depends on the time you have, your available recipes, the families you swap with, and what kind of swap you’re doing.
Staple dishes like tacos, stir-fry, soups, and various casserole dishes are great when you’re delivering them ready to eat. Slow cooker meals work well for frozen food swaps. Consider the plan and go with it!
Feature image via cheatsheet.com