The Supper Swap Club

June 15, 2016

How would your life change for the better if a healthy meal were ready and waiting at the end of the day? No more decisions, no scrambling, no improvising, no takeout and no clean up. How would you fill your freed-up time?

The Supper Swap concept is a great way to keep dinner time hassle-free, less improvised and on budget.

The Supper Swap Club Concept

How would your life change for the better if a healthy meal were ready and waiting at the end of the day? No more decisions, no scrambling, no improvising, no takeout and no clean up. How would you fill your freed-up time?

What if you could accomplish this in just a few hours each week and require that you plan and prep just one meal?

Years ago I watched the movie Happy and was awed by a 30-family commune in Denmark that ate together every night. They were happier because they all enjoyed a nightly social gathering and had the evenings to spend with their children and each other instead of slaving away in the kitchen. They had discovered an efficient, happy way to eat.

After watching Happy, a friend of mine and I worked to replicate this way of meal planning in our independent living spaces. For two years now we have been heading up a weekly Supper Swap Club. It has done wonders for our sanity, health and even the food budgets of the 5 families of 4 that make up the group. With Supper Swap, 5 meals out of the week are covered, leaving 2 for leftovers or going out.

How a Supper Swap Club Works

  1. The Plan. By end of day Saturday, whomever is inspired first sends a group text stating what meal he/she will be making that week. This helps others in the group work around her meal so that there is balance and variety.
  2. The Prep. Our Supper Swap Club includes 5 families of 4. This means that every Monday morning, each member cooks up 5 of the same meals to feed families of 4. So for example, that would be 5 dishes of lasagna that feed 4 and 5 salads that feed 4—and yes, we joke that we are cooking for the Duggars.
  3. The Swap. Monday evenings at 5 p.m. we meet at a central swap location and swap meals. That night my fridge is stocked with of 5 ready-to-go home-cooked meals. You can’t beat that!
  4. Out of Town? If one person is out of town, they can either skip the week or make special arrangements.

The Supper Swap concept is a great way to keep dinner time hassle-free, less improvised and on budget.

Tips for Forming a Supper Swap Club

  1. Form a Group with Similar Diet Preferences and Family Size. If you are gluten-free, seek out a swap group that is gluten-free as well. Are you a retired couple? Single? A family of five? Seek out a group that is such. If you lean toward gourmet, are heavy veggie people or eat only grass-fed meats, seek out a group that does, too. Ideally your group would consist of family, neighbors or co-workers in close proximity.
  2. Craft the Rules. Our group buys what is on sale, but we source as organic, local and whole as much as possible. Are all parties on a tighter budget? Set a not-to-exceed cost per meal.
  3. Commit to a Trial Period. I suggest setting and committing to a 6-week trial period to see if the Supper Swap is working for all parties.
  4. Give it Your Best. Special touches and extra care put into meals will only elevate your Supper Swap Club.    
  5. Practice Gratefulness and Forgiveness. We all have flops in the kitchen and some meals just don’t turn out perfectly. Go easy on each other while committing to refining your own skills in the kitchen.
  6. Allow the Husbands to Lead. If the wives always lead the swap, allow the husbands to lead once in a while. And children love to get involved, too!
  7. Group Size. A group might include 2, 3, 4 or 5 families. The more families involved, the more coordination it will take—but it means more meals in your fridge! Also, take into consideration refrigerator space when determining the number of families and the number of meals you will be swapping.

An Example of a Weekly Supper Swap

Weeks that we Supper Swap, dinner is always exciting! And no one can argue that we don’t eat well. Here’s an example of the tasty variety of food we might enjoy in a week.

  • Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli, Rice and a Garden salad
  • Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Sauteed Mushrooms
  • Fish Tacos with Salsa, Avocado, Cilantro, Cabbage, Limes and Corn Tortillas
  • Thai Rice Bowls with Grilled Tofu, Steamed Veggies and Peanut Sauce
  • Beef Skewers with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Green Bean Salad

The Social Benefits of a Supper Swap

The ladies in our Supper Swap group have become like sisters. We’ve squabbled from time-to-time and worked through details and expectations. We have learned to be gracious with ourselves and others as some of the meals have been flops. Sharing food is intimate and it makes us put forth our best effort. We joke about who is “the weakest link” that week (and it’s usually me!). One member cooks from her secret family recipe book. Another member is a chef and gets quite creative. Occasionally we have time to eat together or linger to socialize. I adore my Swapper Sisters. And in addition to the social benefits that come with our Supper Swap group, I have more time in the evening to exercise, garden and do the things I love.

The Financial Benefits of a Supper Swap

Did I mention Supper Swapping saves us a tremendous amount of money? Not only can we design our meals around what is in season and on sale, but when there is food in the fridge, we rarely eat out. Often we have enough food to pack for lunch the next day.

Are You Sold?

I hope I have inspired you to take a more communal approach to eating well. I understand that not everyone feels confident in the kitchen cooking truly healthy meals. If you need help, I am here. I would love it if you reached out should you need help on your own health journey. Many insurance plans cover my services, leaving you with little excuse to start living the healthy and vibrant life you’ve always wanted. Please share this post far and wide and let’s transform the way America does dinner!


 

Esther Hansen, RDN

Meet the Author

Esther Hansen is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) whose passion is to help her clients lose weight, gain energy and beat disease. She loves good food and wine—especially when shared with friends. She believes healthy food does not have to be expensive or difficult to prepare. Getting help through nutrition therapy doesn’t have to be expensive either! Esther lives and works in northern Colorado but thanks to technology she has clients around the globe. Don’t let the miles get in the way of your health goal. Esther offers FaceTime, Skype and telephone conferences. Visit www.ftcollinsweightloss.com.

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