As many of you know, I am part of a dinner co-op. I love cooking…once a week… and I love free stuff. So when Susan Thacker asked to send me a copy of her cookbook Supper Swapping so that I could review it on my blog, I was excited and a little nervous. I knew it was my bloggeristic duty to give it an honest review, whether I liked the book or not.
The book gives tips and instructions for trading dinners with friends and neighbors, something I could give a testimonial about any day of the week. I’ve been trading dinners for over a year and if I had to go back to cooking every single day, I think I’d have some sort of breakdown. Besides saving us time and money, sharing meals gives our families a real sense of community.
In Supper Swapping, Susan lays out the basics for trading dinners and also includes fun little suggestions to make cooking more enjoyable, like choosing theme music to go with the style of food you’re preparing. She also gives tips on how to save money on your shopping and stock your pantry.
Most of this information was not revolutionary to me at this point in my “supper swapping” career, although I think it would have been helpful back when I was just getting started. I also have to admit that I’m really excited to play music from “La Traviata” next time I make spaghetti and meatballs.
What I love about Supper Swapping is that it’s a little book packed with amazing recipes. Thacker contacted dozens of top-notch chefs and sorted through their best recipes, choosing those that would be easy enough to be reproduced by the masses (read this: daring-young-wanna-be-master-chefs) but still restaurant quality, delicio-so and nutritionally dense. I have made seven of the 100+ recipes from the book, all either for company or for my dinner co-op, and each one was met with overwhelming approval by everyone. This is definitely a book I would choose for my collection.
If you’d like to learn more about her book, you can check it out on the Supper Swapping website. Recipes we loved and will make again include:
-Creole Sauce served over rice (from Charleston Restaurant, named by Zagat as 2003’s most popular Baltimore restaurant)
-California Spinach Salad with homemade Vinaigrette Dressing
-Corn and Black Bean Salsa (delicious and healthful, more like a salad than a salsa)
-Chicken Enchiladas (the best recipe for these I’ve found)
-Chicken or Salmon with Buttery Cilantro Ginger Sauce (We’ve tried both and people have begged for the recipe.)
-Amazing Chocolate Pudding (heaven in a glass cup)
Now a few notes on how my dinner co-op works:
-Four families are members of the group, each with 1 or 2 children.
-We consider 3 adult-sized servings of a main course to be a complete dinner.
-Each family makes their own vegetables, desserts, and sides (unless the sides are semi-mandatory. Ex. We would never just bring over 3 pieces of meat or fish. A side dish is required for things like pot roast, BBQ chicken or grilled salmon.)
-Each family has 4 square pyrex pans with rubber lids and 4 large disposable tupperwares. This way, we never worry about who has which dishes. They just rotate through the group.
-Mondays through Thursdays are our cooking days. Since our children are small, we often have leftovers for lunch the next day and often for Friday night dinner as well.
-We each have a set dinner night so I can plan to always have Wednesday as my cooking day.
-Everyone sends 6 meal choices at the beginning of a cycle and I work them into a 6-week calendar so we all know what meal is coming each day and can plan vegetables to go along with it.
-On my day to cook, I have to have the food ready and delivered with re-heating instructions by 5:00pm. On my nights off, the food magically appears on my doorstep.
-You are not required to be home for the drop-off but can leave a milk-box or cooler out for the food to be kept in until you get home.
-This is one of the best time and money saving decisions I’ve ever made for my family.
-We eat better every night because the person cooking has to do it so rarely that they make something really special when it’s their night to cook.
Well, good luck and happy Supper Swapping. I hope you’ll join us.
Wow, what an awesome idea. Can I come live near you?
Seriously I don’t know anyone who would want to do this with me. Maybe I can convince my children to just eat once a week…
What a geat idea! I may have to pick up that book, at least for the recipes…they sound yummy.
They did a spot on the news about this too. Except the women go shopping altogether and spend one evening making many various dinners for an entire month and put them into containers and they each take them home and freeze.
I think I’d really like the supper swapping. Do you deliver to Kentucky? I make really great chicken enchilada soup.
I may just have to get this book and a group of friends together. Anything that saves time is good in my book!
Hey, anyone in the Spanish Fork Utah area want to supper swap?
Yum! I would love a supper swap in my area! What a cool thing to do.
We did this years ago and it was great. But life just got too busy and it came to the point that I couldn’t even commit to the one day a week! Eeek.
I would LOVE to do that. Too bad my husband doesn’t eat food cooked by anyone else. Wonder if I could pass it off as my own…..
I always think this sounds like a great idea. But what happens if someone drops the ball? Or does that not happen since you plan so far in advance and you KNOW when your cooking day is? Huh. I’ll have to see if anyone I know will actually do this with me!
Ummm…go read my blog today. Seriously. I think you read my mind posting this today. You RULE!
Just a testimonial about Charleston in Baltimore (creole dish)–it’s divine and a serious “special occasion” restaurant, meaning in 7 years living there, I only went to celebrate my, and later, my husband’s medical school graduation. So, the recipe must rock.
In utopia, we would all be doing this. It would also be a much easier way to track down food outbreaks from an epidemiological standpoint!
Susan Thacker says
This is Susan Thacker, author of Supper Swapping. Wow! Thanks for the great review. About the Creole, I always make it with canned tomatoes even though the chef uses fresh ones. It’s awesome and it freezes well. If you use the canned tomatoes the recipe is fast. If anyone wants to get a signed book today, you can email me directly and I’ll sell it to you for $12.00 instead of the price on the website. Also, if you don’t have a cooking partner yet, I can let you know which recipes freeze well so you can double your cooking.
Susan Thacker says
I forgot… my email is email@example.com
What a clever idea!!! Only cooking a couple of times a week…can we say HEAVEN!!! Thank you for sharing.
Are all the women in the group stay at home moms? If not, would this work for a mom who works full or part time? What’s your opinion (or anyone else’s)?
Are any of your fellow swappers bad or marginal cooks? When it’s their night do you inwardly groan?
This is a brilliant idea! Unfortunately, I have the largest family in the neighborhood with my four kids. Except for the only other LDS family who has 11! We have made meals for each other on occasion, such as when one of us is sick. Oh, and we borrow each others eggs. Do you have a set budget amount for each meal?
Great review. I received this book to review also, it’s great. I love that the recipes come from chef’s and they’re easy. You make me want to try to find people to swap with! I can’t seem to get into the routine of making a good dinner every night, even though I love to cook. I’ll either have to swap or do the once-a-month cooking thing by myself.
The Flip Flop Mamma! says
That’s great, so now I must 1. get friends. 2. Learn how to cook. 3. convince my new friends what a great idea this is! I’m joking, I know how to cook 🙂
I’m starting to organize my life to do freezer cooking, but this swapping idea is pretty good! Unfortunately, I don’t think that I can find 3 other moms w/similar enough families. The 3 I thought of first have allergy issues, and cooking lactose free or wheat free just can’t happen on a regular basis.
Great idea. And I am interested in the good recipes. I will check out the book.
What a good idea. A few people do this in my neighborhood but I dont’ know if they would adhere to my strict “never eat mustard, mushrooms, or water chestnuts” rule so I have not joined.
The One With The Food says
I would really love to swap but I don’t kow any other mommies.:(
It is a really great idea!