Cooking / Having a Life / Making your life easier / Raising a Toddler / Running a Business

Co-op to Make Your Life Easier

The common talk of the struggle for survival has obscured the plain fact that man rose in the world primarily by cooperating, not struggling with his fellows

–Hermann Muller

I used the scoff at the idea that it took a whole village to raise a child, but since having a kid I now fully appreciate the value of neighborly cooperation.

About a year ago my friend (and neighbor) started a dinner co-op. She cooks dinner for my family once a week and once I week I cook dinner for hers. You cannot fathom the relief it is to NOT have to cook one night a week AND get dropped off a delicious 3-4 course meal that didn’t cost you anything.

It helps both of us cook more regularly, more nutritiously, and more experimentally. I’ve explored new territories like Thai, Indian, Southern, and Spanish, and pushed my culinary talent beyond what I thought I could do because of this dinner co-op. It’s so fun to cook for more people than just your own little family. It’s like having a dinner party every week.

IMG_3742Here’s my homemade Wild Mushroom pasta I made for coop recently

It’s a win-win all around. We get to try new foods, enjoy giddy anticipation for what the other is  going to bring over once a week, and once a week my husband doesn’t have to clean up my dinner mess.

Obviously a dinner coop works best when the parties involved are of equal or similar size. And if you detest cooking, this probably won’t make you as happy as it does me.

But there are other types of co-op’s that are wonderful too. Once of my other neighbors organized a date-night co-op for 4 families in the area. Every Saturday one of us is in charge of babysitting the kids of the other 3 parents. Those other 3 parents get to go out on dates that night and the once in charge play with the kids. Basically you get to go out every weekend night but one and you don’t have to pay a babysitter.

Babysitting isn’t terribly expensive, but since the lay off, we’ve been really trying to watch what we spend. And though this date-night co-op just started, I love it already. Last time we went out, our kiddo couldn’t have been more excited that we were leaving. He got to play with a little buddy, and explore a new house and their fun backyard. He loved it! And that makes me love it.

The other co-op is similar – one of my other friends and I are going to swap kids once a week so we can work. She’s watching mine on Mondays and I’m watching hers on Thursdays. She does accounting, I do marketing. Our boys are about the same age and enjoy playing together. And it gives us time to get work and meetings out of the way without burdening our parents or a neighbor to help us out.

I love co-op’s. I think it’s vital for our sanity as women to work collectively and collaboratively to survive this crazy world. What kinds of co-op’s have you done?

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5 thoughts on “Co-op to Make Your Life Easier

  1. For a year my single friends and I did a dinner group where we would each take a turn during the week making dinner. It was fabulous. We all saved money because we could buy in bulk, we didn’t have to cook 4 days of the week and we got a home cooked meal every night. Plus, it was fun to have the daily social gathering.

  2. Like you, we have co-ops in my neighborhood, too. Had one today, in fact. But I’m not at the stage where I’ll do food experimentation on anyone other than my family. My cooking skills are just not there.

  3. Over the last 10 years I’ve had a lot of questions about how to make a dinner co-op work for the long haul. A couple friends and I finally wrote a book about it- including dinner co-op-friendly recipes. If you’re interested you can find out more at http://www.dinnerco-ops.com.

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