It amazes me how often preparing my meals stresses me out. And nearly always it’s due to time constraints. Rather than taking the time to find recipes and shop for ingredients I catch myself in idle thought of how I have developed this tiresome relationship to food. I may have been idle, but I have come to some conclusions. I’ve identified some bad habits that are hard to break. As a university student for four years meal preparation was never my priority. I always ate on the go except for the few potluck dinners I’d have with friends where we’d set aside a couple hours to cook together. However the wine, beer, and cocktails usually remained the focus. The demands of school, jobs, and the necessity of a social life overruled the time and effort needed to prepare food. The kind of lifestyle university life creates is its own problem to be tackled.
Another thing contributing to food-prep-stress is the time I think it takes away from doing other things. I feel I already do not spend enough time getting physical exercise, working on my business, exposing myself to cultural and recreational activity, or seeing my friends. Yet I’m confused with my feelings because food remains to be one of the most important sources of energy. I could not enjoy any of the other activities without nourishment. At a time when food quality is declining rapidly and global food markets are monopolized to fabricate scarcity and artificial prices I should never feel “food is taking up too much of my time”. Such sentiments only support impulse buys from commercial sources that reproduce systems of inequality.
A third realization I came to was that I was overwhelmed. I was telling myself that I needed to have three meals planned and prepared for each day. Where there may be a point in my life that provides time for that (I’ll have grey hair!?), it is definitely not feasible now. I have realized the secret for me is to have certain ingredients on hand, the ones I replenish as I run out. This strategy has eliminated the necessity to cook large portions to be stretched over the week. Because the truth is I get sick of the same bean salad or squash soup if I’m eating it all week.
As I am a restless soul it is important that my diet is not limited to the same food all the time. This is where I incorporate YOU into my food strategy. I would like you to help me develop the Dinner Co-Op! The Dinner Co-OP is one of the latest editions to the Button Collective and falls in the category of Lifestyle, along with the Cookie Project and a number of other projects Anne and I are excited to bring to your attention soon.
When I think of a dinner party a number of things come to mind. In good company I feel at my best. I feel connected to a community. I always learn something from the conversations had, and I physically feel my body release stress. I loosen up and indulge a little more in the food and yet always feel better than if I’d limited my self to a “reasonable” portion. It has been explained to me that good mood and laughter improves our digestion! I have hosted a couple dinners now and am addicted to what an affordable gift to my friends and family can reap in terms of the priceless rewards the night returns. Despite the extra cake I ate, I still feel great the next day. And something someone said is still making me laugh or has me in search of a book that was mentioned.
I encourage you to invite one or a few guests to your place for dinner on a day that you arrange and as often as you feel you can comfortably manage. Recruit a co-host to appease your nerves! Have different guests over weekly! Not only will you have simultaneously built in a time to clean house but you will have a legitimate excuse to buy elaborate and local ingredients, and spend several hours preparing them amidst great tunes. If you mention the Dinner Co-Op the idea might catch on and before you know you’ll be going to as many dinner parties this summer as you’re preparing..or more!
If you try this, or are already doing it, share your experiences in the space provided below for comments. Do I detect a potential portal for recipe swaps?