Co-ops and Dinner Swaps

by Ivory Soap

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People are made to depend on other people. Yes, you *can* do it all on your own, but that’s not really feasible or preferable in most cases. Isolation is not the goal. A community of people all doing things the old fashioned way broadens our ability to live simply.

So for today’s post, I’d like to share with you my two favorite ‘communities’ that make my simple life richer.

1. My Babysitting Co-op:

Five families that I know all got together and started this a year or two ago. AWESOME. We’ve grown to eight families. This not only allows me to schedule doctor’s appointments anytime,(the return of regular dentist appointments, yeah!) but as a stay-at-home mom in a working-family neighborhood, this co-op provides me with people to talk to and hang with and depend on. No agencies, daycares, or paid sitters. Rock on!

We all started with 60 ‘points’. Babysitting costs number of children plus one point per hour. So my three kids sat for two hours would be eight points. We each take a turn at being ‘monthly secretary’ and scheduling the sits. We have a few other rules that I could email to anyone who is interested, but that’s the basic gist.

The most important thing in forming a co-op like this, or of any sort, is to find people who are similar to your style. All us moms are healthy eating at home, yet have-what-you-like-at-a-friends-house, TV tolerating, potty accident tolerating, is-it-five-yet-so-I-can-have-some-wine, type moms.

2. My Dinner Swap:

This sounds like a bigger deal than it is. And if you want to get to know someone intimately, try feeding them every week. HA!

Here’s the quick description…we each put the ingredients together for the other ladies’ crockpots, ovens, or microwaves–one main dish and a side–and deliver it in time to be cooked/reheated by dinner time on our day. My day is Wednesday.

That means that I deliver and cook once (tripling the recipe) and get dinner delivered to me two other weeknights. We eat at MIL’s all day Sunday, so the other nights are leftovers or sandwiches or whatever. I *might* throw something together one other night, like an impromptu stir fry from all the random veggies in the house. It’s home-cooked heaven.

Most people’s resistance to the idea is that nobody in the world eats just like your family. I know. But when four fun ladies sit around a table and haul out the recipes, it gets really easy:

“My husband would never eat that. Put that on my week off.”
“Ooo, do this one, but leave the red peppers out on mine.”
“Oh gosh, I loved that one. You could cook it every month!”

I love both these communities and the ladies I share them with. I don’t think I could ever go back.


P.S.If anyone wants the details of these, feel free to email us!

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

rowena___. June 5, 2009 at 2:09 pm

at last, it’s letting me leave a comment!

i’d love more details about the co-op and the dinner swap but i can’t find the link to email you. 😀

also, i planted both the beginners garden and the squash garden, and i couldn’t be more happy with how they are doing! there is a post on my blog about them (the link is really long–so i won’t clog your comments with it–but it is on 4 june), and i hope the links will bring you lots of new traffic.

Lindsay June 5, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I LOVE my meal swap group. We do it a little differently. We have 6 ladies, so once a month we make 6 batches of a meal, frozen, ready to bake, and then swap. I use them consistently on gymnastics night, when we come home for a late dinner. I put it in the oven when I leave, set the time bake, and come home to a piping hot meal. I could not LIVE without my meal swap group. My family eats so well because of it. We have one family that has a very picky husband. She uses the meals to feed the rest of the family, and she can make something that he’d enjoy with little effort. It works out well. Would also work for food allergies. You can prepare something for the allergic person, and the rest of the family can eat “normal” food. I started the group, and I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m a genius or something. But really, I’m just too lazy to put a whole bunch of meals together for my own freezer.

ivorysoap76 June 5, 2009 at 6:14 pm

You are a genius! My gals and I saw it in a flyer.

ivorysoap76 June 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I SAW IT!!! I nearly cried. I was so proud to see my design in your yard! And thanks for reminding me to put up a contact link. I’d forgotten in the move.

willowly June 6, 2009 at 1:42 am

Such a great idea! People learned long ago that we can accomplish so much more in groups than we each could alone, it is too bad that people have been losing that tradition. If you would email me the details that would be great, though I’m sure plenty of others would love to see them as well. Thanks 🙂

r camacho June 6, 2009 at 9:56 am

I would love the details of the babysitting co-op. I would love to explore starting one where I live.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond!

Karis June 7, 2009 at 4:19 am

Your website is a constant source of inspiration and entertainment. THANK YOU for all the joy–and helpful hints–you’ve shared.

I would love more information about the babysitting co-op. It sounds brilliant. Could you email me those additional rules? How is the actual ‘sitting divvied up? Do you earn points for being the kid-watcher?


Amy June 7, 2009 at 5:04 am

I love both of these ideas! Now I need to find a few mamas that will try it out with me. 🙂

ivorysoap76 June 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I would love to send everyone the rules. Just shoot me your emails at

stacey June 10, 2009 at 7:30 pm

i’d like more information on the babysitting coop. that sounds like a great idea!!

Dana Hilton January 4, 2011 at 1:36 am

I need to find a dinner co-op in my area how do you find them

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