I have a bunch of friends who are mums from our local school who get together every 1-2 months to cook together. The group was formed when I started full-time work two years ago so I couldn't commit to the group, so I was on the substitute list for when someone was away. I have been 'called up' a few times but invariably I was busy on the set date, but finally I was able to join the group a few weeks ago.
What a fun day! It was a little crazy, there was food everywhere, tons of washing up, but lots of great cooking smells and plenty of chattering with good friends.
Here's some of the output from our three hours together in the kitchen:
If you are interested in starting a group, here are some pointers:
- Four, five or six members is a good number. Any more and it will be chaos.
- Agree on a day and time (eg, Saturday at 1-4pm) and frequency (monthly, bi-monthly etc)
- Take turns hosting the Cooking Group.
- Make sure everyone knows if there are any allergies or foods that can't be eaten for religious reasons
- Everyone agrees to cook enough servings of their chosen recipe so that everyone gets one serving of each meal
- Ask each member to advise what they will be cooking so that there will be a good variety of recipes. Each member should also state if they need the oven or a hotplate (first in, first served) and what containers everyone should bring to the group so they can take the food home with them
- Tell the group if you have a electrical frypans/wok or a mobile hotplate. The stove area can be a little crazy during Cooking Group so it's good to have a few cooking zones.
- Recipes should be freezer-friendly so everyone can eat the meals when it suits them. If the food can't be frozen you need to advise the group so that everyone knows they must eat that meal within a few days of Cooking Group
- Set a recommended dollar limit on how much each person should spend on ingredients
- Each person must bring all equipment, knives, chopping boards, a few teatowels etc with them on the day
- Most people do some preparation before going to Cooking Group. You may like to chop some ingredients, grate cheese, roast capsciums, toast nuts etc before arriving. This will make it a little easier during the Cooking Group time as most people underestimate how long it takes to prepare 4-6 servings of a recipe.
- If anyone finishes preparing their food they normally help the others who are still cooking. Many hands make light work.
- Don't get competitive with each other by producing gourmet or wildly creative meals. The recipes should be tasty, Monday-to-Friday dinners, not dinner party fare.
And above all, have fun and a few laughs. A glass of wine is optional.