Jessi, Natalie, and Tiffany swimming off the Kona beaches at the Ironman World Championships in 2009
We wanted to be sure to include a post about how our dinner club works. Not because you're interested in getting one started (you might just be visiting for meal inspiration and delicious recipes - who could blame you?!?!), but we often get these questions and thought we'd answer them for prosperity. Well, that and we think Dinner Club has become a necessity for all of us. If you have any inkling to try it out, we definitely want to encourage you!
How does it work?
Each week all three ladies make a meal for our own family, plus the other two families. We are responsible for the delivery of our own meal on the day we promise it to each other.
What do you do for people with different food preferences?
It's honestly probably best not to join into this kind of "marriage" with people who have really different food needs than your own, but often it's pretty easy to make accommodations. For example, Natalie and her husband don't eat pork, and her husband doesn't eat beef. We are all pretty happy to substitute for chicken or turkey because these aren't the only meals we eat all week and they are generally healthier substitutions anyway. Tiffany and Jessi can't do Feta or blue cheese while pregnant, so Natalie substitutes parmesean or another hard cheese.
How do you manage the food storage containers that you deliver the food in?
In retrospect, we could have done this several ways, the easiest being each of us buy a set of dishes that had some visual difference. It would be easier to return them to the correct person. The reality for us is that it has never been a big deal and we have pretty much lost track at this point. For some people this might be a bigger issue, thankfully not for us. We have each stocked up on a few items to make it a little easier, but generally the dishes all circulate around and it's never really been an issue. Also we use a lot of the Ziploc/Glad containers that no one is too invested in.
What do you include in the meals?
We generally include generous portions of a main dish and sometimes side dish (always big fans of having some leftovers for lunch). We decided in the beginning generally not to include a vegetable/salad side dish (unless it is part of the main dish) because of the hassle factor and also because of the timing of when families eat the meal. You may deliver it on Monday but if someone doesn't eat it until Wednesday, a salad may be wilted by then. Occasionally, we include some kind of dessert or breakfast treat (like muffins or bread), but it's rare and definitely not expected.
Do you set-up a schedule or deliver on the same day every week?
Because of our busy lives and sometimes irregular schedules and commitments, we generally make the schedule week to week. We try to let the others know at the beginning of the week what day we plan to deliver and what we're planning on making. This way, we don't all deliver on the same day and it's not Mexican food all week long. Doing a schedule would definitely be an option, but this allows us flexibility for family commitments, hair appointments, and all other important things in life.
Doesn't it suck making a huge meal every week?
The obvious answer is yes, but having other meals delivered during the week makes up for it ten fold! If you think about it, the time investment to make more of a recipe you're already making is much less than making 3 separate meals. It's also a money saver - there's a lot less wasted food each week. And we would all agree that we eat out less with homemade meals showing up on our doorstep.