What is a food swap? In a food swap, a group of people agree to prepare food or harvest food from their gardens and then share the food with each other. If you plan to share food from each other’s gardens, make sure everyone grows something different–otherwise, you’ll have way too many zucchini!
I suggest planning and swapping a complete meal. One family will prepare each dish. This works best when four or five households agree to swap. If fewer households agree to swap, each household will have to supply more items. The people involved should live fairly close to each other; a long trip between houses will allow the food to get cold. In addition, each family must prepare enough food for all the members of the households with whom the family is sharing. In the case of four families of four, it is necessary to prepare 16 portions of whatever you plan to bring; 16 portions of meatloaf, for example.
All members should agree on a meal or on a theme. One family should prepare and distribute menus that list items included in the meal. For instance, if the theme is Italian night, one family should prepare a main dish, such as lasagna. The second family should supply a green salad. In lieu of a green salad, the second family could also prepare a cooked vegetable to accompany the main dish, such as a mix of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. The third family should supply the bread or rolls and butter or margarine. The third family should also provide disposable plates, cups, and napkins so that minimal clean up is required. The fourth family should supply the dessert; dessert could be as fancy as tiramisu, or as simple as a fresh fruit salad. Each family is responsible for its own beverages. If the theme is meatloaf, one family should prepare a meatloaf, a second family should prepare mashed potatoes, a third should bring green beans or corn, and a fourth should bring bread, plates, and cups.
To save time during the week, precook and freeze main dishes. Some dishes freeze better than others do. Soups and stews, such as chili and vegetable beef soup freeze well. Roast beef, pork chops, and baked chicken or turkey freeze well. For a vegetarian dish, try veggie burgers, vegetable lasagna, or lentil stew.
You can ask others in your neighborhood if they would like to get involved with the food swap. Food swapping is a way to build a sense of community among people. The Food Swap Network is also an option. The Food Swap Network links users with other food swappers nearby.
Food swaps can be a way to try new foods, relieve stress, and build a sense of community. Happy food swapping!