The year is off to a nice cooking start as I try to fill my freezer and cupboards with the basics that will help me get through the work week. Last week’s action-packed cooking agenda included an impromptu granola-making session during my pre-schooler’s playgroup; a big batch chicken tender cooking session with Suzy; and an afternoon making meatballs with Kathe.
As I manage my life — three kids, homework, after-school activities — now more than ever I see how important cooking with friends is. When my kids were in diapers, I needed the cooking time to catch up with friends more than anything. But as my kids grow older, (they’re now 11, 8 and 3) the reasons for cooking with friends are only growing. Certainly, there’s the friend factor, but there is also a true food factor and crucial money saving element.
Although I rarely buy frozen chicken tenders or macaroni and cheese, I have grown to understand the role these quick foods play in people’s lives. In fact, frozen food has become vital in my weekday dinner feeding frenzy. But since health is of utmost importance to me, I make these freezer foods myself, and of course, with friends.
Then there’s the money saving benefit. Making foods in bulk for the freezer and pantry often saves a significant amount of money. Take Suzy and my chicken tender cooking date: each of us probably spent $10 on chicken breasts and since we already had flour, eggs and olive oil on hand, there was no added cost. In one hour (and I promise you it wasn’t a crazy, hectic, grease splattered hour since Suzy has zero tolerance for that), we made 100 golden chicken tenders — 50 each! Compare our collective $20 with the cost of Bell & Evans frozen all natural tenders. With 8 tenders in a box costing $5.99, you would have to spend about $75 to get the amount Suzy and I made.
Our granola yields an equally astonishing savings. So, there’s no doubt that the cost-saving factor is huge, and is a truly important benefit of cooking with friends.
So, as you schedule your time in the upcoming weeks, think about your goals. If, like me, you want to feed your kids healthy and homemade foods; rely on quick foods to get you through the week, are looking for productive ways to spend time with your friends and would love to save money, think about with whom and when you can cook. And then, book it.