Allison from Savoring the Moments asked some good questions about hosting your own Cooking Day. "I would love to know how you started your group, and how you organize it each time. Things like: who does all the prep work, who shops, how do you split up the cost, etc. Also, where you find the "freezer" recipes that you use."
There are so many ways that you can start your own cooking group. Like I have written before I started with just my mom, sister, cousin and close friend. It was just the five of us. We would all decide together what meals we were going to make. I would go and do all of the shopping and organizing and then we would split the total cost of everything amongst the 5 of us.
Once the group got bigger and bigger and bigger and then at one time I had 2 groups going, I had to get more organized. I now decide what the menus will be each month (based on what people have said they liked or what they would like to cook). I still do all the shopping and organizing, but now we have a set price of $72 a month for all 6 meals. It evens out to $12 a meal, which I think is a great price since most of those "places" they have now, where you can go makes meals, cost at least $19.50 or more a meal! Outrageous.
Yes, this sounds like a lot of work for one person. And it can be. I do on occasion get help form my mom and/or sister. But to be honest with you, I LOVE doing it. I don't make any money from it. It pays for my set of meals every month and the gas I use to do the shopping. I consider it my ministry since I feel that doing this is a true gift that God has blessed me with. I think it would be easiest to start a group with a buddy. Someone who will help you to all the work.
OK, so let's get into how anybody can get a group going with minimal work.
1) Find a group of people who want to join you. Minimum of 3/maximum of 6 to start with. You can add more people, after a few times cooking, if you think you have room.
2)Decide on when and where. Our group meets on the third Friday of every month. We started at my house, but now we are up to 15+ people so we use the kitchen at my parent's Church. It's really big with lots of counter space. If you don't have a lot of counter space you can set up tables. We started in my kitchen with 2 tables set up in my family room for overflow!
3)Decide on how many meals you want to make. We make 6 meals each month. You can start with making just a few meals and grow from there. Start small, so you don't get overwhelmed and build it bigger as you go along and feel comfortable doing so.
4)Decide what meals you are going to make. You can do this a couple ways. You can send out an e-mail to your friends with a list of different meals and let them all vote. Or you can just choose the meals yourself the first time and at each cooking day ask your group what they would like to cook the next month. You can click on the "resource" link on the right to find some good places for recipes.
**Note**If you are in my cooking group, I keep meaning to ask you all this question every month. But I am always forgetting. So if you ever want something, just let me know :o)
5)Shopping-either have one person to all the shopping (this would be the easiest) or split up the shopping list and have everyone shop. If one person does the shopping just divide the total cost of food among all the members on Cooking Day.
6)Prep work-I use to do a lot of prep work before our Cooking Days. I would write the meal names on all the freezer bags, clean veggies, cook hamburger, etc.....and then the group grew and it became a lot more work to do the organizing of who's coming and who's not and to do the shopping. So now the group does all the prep work. But it still only takes us a couple of hours to do all the meals and clean-up.
7)Clean-up- This is probably the most important step. Seriously. Once everyone has all their meals in their ice chests they think it's time to go. Make sure you discuss ahead of time that EVERYONE needs to help with clean-up. It's part of Cooking Day just as the cooking is.
I think that should be the gist of Cooking Day. Like I said, start small and build from there. Don't let yourself become overwhelmed with it. Make it a fun day of fellowship and food with your friends!