Saving time and stress with cooking co-ops, but watch the food safety

A cooking co-op, or dinner swap, is, according to Laurie Woolever writing in the New York Times, an agreement by two or more individuals or households to provide prepared meals for each other, according to a schedule. The goal is to reduce the time spent in the kitchen while increasing the quality and variety of the food eaten.

Once a week, you cook a dish (chicken enchiladas, for instance), making enough to provide at least one serving for each adult member of the co-op. …

After setting aside a pan of enchiladas for your household, you divide and package the rest, usually in reusable containers, and label them with reheating or assembly instructions. Members then gather and swap dishes, each walking away with a variety of meals for the coming week’s dinners and, often, leftovers for extra meals and lunches.

There are several issues, like co-op members consistently making crappy meals, and the food safety — who knows what goes on in those other kitchens. But food is about sharing and celebrating, so I’m all for it, just don’t make people barf.