24/7 MOMS

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Organize It " with Supper Swapping

Time for more Party fun. Before we move to Meal Planning I have a few more pantry organizing tips to share with you from Dena Pasis About.com's guide to Personal Organizing.

How To Keep Your Kitchen Pantry Organized
By Dena Pasis, About.com Guide to personal organizing

Empty Everything Out of Your Pantry:

* Assess Each Item:
Many items are bought out of impulse, and often we aren't even aware of how much we acummalate. Therefore, ask yourself honestly: When is the last time I used this product? If you cannot remember, or know that you haven't or won't use it, you need to get rid of it. Put your unused items to good use and donate them to a local shelter or food bank.

*Keep like Items Together:
Of the items you have chosen to keep, categorize like items together in the same pile. For example:
o Canned vegetables and beans
o Pasta and rice
o Candy and cookies
o Chips and crackers
o Soups
o Sauces and condiments

By keeping like items together, it will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for.

*Assess Your Pantry Storage Area:
Determine how the space works for you by asking yourself the following questions:

o Is it difficult to see all the items in your pantry?
o Is it hard to reach items in your pantry?
o Are you lacking space to hold all the items in your pantry?

By determining your available storage space, it will help you to figure out if you can make the space work for you as is, or if you need to invest in affordable storage options.

* Storage Solutions: These are great examples of storage products that will help maximize your space and maintain the organization of your kitchen pantry.

o 3-tier Cabinet Organizer: This will make it easier to locate your items.
o Pantry Door Organizer: This will help to maximize the space of your pantry by utilizing an often unused space.
o Soup/Can Rack: A great way to keep your cans in order.
o Plastic Bag Organizer: If you store plastic bags in your kitchen, this will help to keep them all in one place.
o Kitchen Wrap Organizer: This is a smart way to keep your different wraps organized.

*The key to keeping your pantry organized is: Consistently go through your pantry and discard unused items by donating them to local shelters or food banks. Keep like items together so that they are easier to locate, retrieve and put back. You may also want to consider putting some of your products in plastic containers, which is sometimes less bulky than product packaging and helps to take up less space.

Now That we have our pantries organized and stocked we can begin planning our meals. Tonight, Trish Berg shares with us on Supper Swapping.

Meal Swapping ~ Simplify Your Dinnertime Dilemma by Co-op Cooking with Your Girlfriends By: Trish Berg

The rain pitter-pattered on the roof as I snuggled under our old quilt on the couch with my toddler reading If Your Give a Mouse a Cookie for the fourth time. My stomach began to grumble as I realized that five-thirty had rolled around quicker then I had expected. My older children were diligently working on their homework and my son was playing in the playroom. I had no dinner on the table, and nothing thawing from the freezer. Was I worried? No way. I knew that in about a half hour, a warm, home cooked meal would be delivered to my door for my family to enjoy.

I am not wealthy. I have not hired a caterer. Yet three days a week dinner is delivered to my door. Like clockwork, the meals come, and my dinnertime stress is diminished. My kitchen counters stay clean, and my family enjoys wonderful recipes like meatballs and sausage with oriental slaw salad, or poppy seed chicken with broasted potatoes and applesauce.

It is really simpler than you might expect. The solution to my dinnertime dilemma is co-op cooking, or meal swapping. I am not a miracle worker, I am not rich, and I am certainly not a chef. I am a mom, who happens to know other moms who live life as hectically as I do. We are girlfriends who were seeking an inexpensive, simple solution to our dinnertime dilemma.

Through co-op cooking, we share the cooking responsibility for our families. We save time, money, and stress, and build deeper friendships with one another through co-op cooking. For about one to two hours of meal preparation, and about thirty minutes of meal delivery time one day a week, I am blessed with four nights of homemade dinners.

It all started about two years ago when one of my girlfriends approached me about forming a cooking co-op. It almost sounded surreal at first, but since we were all struggling with dinner, we decided to give it a try. At a cozy table in a local restaurant we met to plan our meals. Over cold glasses of iced tea, we discussed what meals would work best for our families. Each of us picked a cooking day and delivery time, then with recipe cards in hand, we planned three months worth of family friendly meals.

That was two years ago, and my co-op is going strong. We have gone through many changes, and have been able to adjust our co-op along the way. Co-op cooking has a life cycle for some families, and they may choose to leave after six months or a year. My co-op has seen three families eventually leave and two new families join. Some families left because their schedule changed, their children are now in school, or they simply wanted to try and cook all of their own dinners once again. Each girlfriend that has left our co-op has expressed a future desire to join another co-op someday, and would strongly recommend co-op cooking to anyone looking to simplify dinner. My friendships with my girlfriends who left the co-op are still stronger because of co-opping together, and I have built new friendships with my current co-op families.

Co-op cooking provides tremendous time and financial savings, and simplified trips to the grocery store. But high on the list of benefits is that even in the midst of sometimes hectic days, I no longer stress about what to make for dinner!

Cooking co-ops can take many forms, and that’s one of the beauties of the co-op – each one develops its own personality, reflective of the different communities with distinct needs. Some cooking co-ops are neighborhood co-ops. Other families might co-op with co-workers, church members, civic organizations, or extended family members. Cooking for one another’s families is a natural extension of neighborhoods, churches, community service groups and friendships. Any definition of community has the potential to develop a successful cooking co-op partnership.

So on those gray, dreary days when the rain is falling, and you have no idea what to make for supper, rest assured that your girlfriends are there for you with a warm smile, a quiet wink, and a delicious dinner in hand!

Suggestions for Starting Your Own Cooking Co-Op
1. Ask a few close friends to pursue the co-op with you. Choose friends with
families around the same size as yours, with similar tastes and lifestyles, and who
live nearby so delivery is not an added burden

2. Choose recipes to start with that are your family favorites and are kid friendly.
But don’t feel the need to limit your co-op to only kid friendly recipes. After all,
you are cooking for the grown ups as well.

3. Purchase inexpensive, glass baking dishes with lids and Ziploc containers to share
meals; do not expect to get the exact dishes back you sent out.

4. Be honest about food likes and dislikes, and possible food allergies up front when
you plan your meal calendar.

5. Buy in bulk for your meals, when items are on sale, and try to budget recipes so
you don't make two expensive ones in a row (i.e. pot roast is more expensive then
pizza burgers)

6. Meet every three months to plan your meals. Give each family the opportunity to
leave the co-op each quarter, guilt free.

7. Have one co-op member write out or type up your three month co-op meal calendar and distribute it to each co-op family to hang on their fridge.

8. Delivery times can vary depending on what works for each family. If you deliver at dinnertime, have the meal cooked and ready to eat. If you deliver in the morning, have your meal prepared with baking instructions; that way it is fresh out of the oven at dinnertime. Have delivery times printed on the meal calendars.

9. Stick to the meal calendar. However, if you must change your recipe or adapt your delivery time, let your co-op partners know in advance.

10. Be flexible with one another when life throws you a curve ball, like a sick child, a broken down car, or unexpected circumstance. Have a meal back up plan for those nights agreed upon at the outset, like switching days or having pizza delivered if you are in a pinch.

11. Decide what constitutes a meal at the outset. We only prepare and deliver two dishes: a main dish and a side or dessert. Each family is responsible for adding sides, salad or bread to complete the meal on their own.

12. Relax and enjoy the ride. Don’t expect your co-op to last forever, since co-ops do have life cycles. If co-op members leave, try and find new families to fill in the gaps and give it a try. Co-ops with three to five families usually work best.

Trish Berg
is author to 4 books, including Rattled-Surviving Your Baby’s First Year without Losing Your Cool and A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. Read more of Trish’s columns, tips, and download tons of free stuff to help you simplify motherhood at www.TrishBerg.com.

Time for another GIFT to be opened ( Given a way)

Our next gift ( giveaway) is the The Great American Supper Swap Book.

Did you know that only 50% of American families eat dinner together every night, and 34% of those meals come from fast food restaurants? Families are giving up on supper and kids are paying the price. If your weekday evenings look more like a sitcom than a family show, supper swapping is for you!

The Great American Supper Swap presents the simple solution to your dinnertime dilemma. A way to provide a delicious and nutritious, freshly prepared supper for your family each and every night of the week by simply swapping meals with your girlfriends. You cut your cooking time by 80%, and your kitchen counters stay clean. For about one to two hours of meal preparation, and a 20-minute delivery time one day a week, you are blessed with a week’s worth of homemade, nutritious and delicious meals for your family to enjoy. Supper swapping is simple, and it simply works! Let The Great American Supper Swap show you how!

Trish Berg and 24/7 MOMS are giving away one copy of The Great American Supper Swap book. To enter for your chance to win this book, enter your name and email address in the box below you will be signed up for today's Great American Supper Swap book giveaway as well as be added to the 24/7 MOMS E-list(if you are not already a 24/7 MOMS subscriber). Drawing to be held on February 1, 2009.

You can purchase the Great American Supper Swap at the 24/7 MOMS Store

Before we end today's "Organize It " Party we have TWO yummy recipes from Trish Berg to share with you

Two Cup C

In a large mixing bowl combine:

2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese blend
2 cups milk
2 cans "cream of something" soup (I use chicken)
2 cans corn (drained)


Pour into a greased 9x13, cover with foil

Bake for 1 hour in a preheated 400` oven

Test noodle for done-ness, as ovens vary.

Side Dish Options: Add a salad and loaf of garlic and dinner's done!

*Note: Can be prepared the night before, cover with foil and put in fridge.

*Note: Can use 1 C/1can method will make a nice 8x8 casserole.

Sweet and Saucy Meatballs

1 bag frozen meatballs form Wal-Mart (32 to a bag)
(Note: Or you can make your own from scratch if you prefer)
2 cans tomato soup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar

Lay meatballs in 9x13 glass baking dish. In mixing bowl, whisk together soup, sugar and vinegar. Pour over top of meatballs, and bake at 350 for one hour.

SIDE DISHES: Goes great with mashed potatoes and corn on the side.

Join us back here tomorrow for another day at the "Organize It" Party our theme will be "Control It"- Kids Stuff from school papers to bedrooms. Invite your Mom friends to party with us .

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Blogger Alicia said...

I really love this Supper Swap idea! I'm going to talk to other military wives who's husbands are deployed right now and see if anyone wants to do this!

January 13, 2009 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger J said...

supper swap is the best idea i've heard in a long time!

January 13, 2009 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger jceko77 said...

I would really like this cookbook. Thanks!

January 31, 2009 at 5:41 AM  

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