5 Simple Steps to Starting a Cooking Club

5 Simple Steps to Starting a Cooking Club

Make new dishes, expand your palate, and bond with friends by starting a cooking club.

By: Judy Koutsky

The kitchen can be a lonely place when you’re trying to put together a healthy family meal night after night. Or maybe you’re trying to think of new dishes for an upcoming birthday party or holiday gathering.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a network of friends who have a plethora of recipes at their fingertips that they can personally vouch for? Plus, wouldn’t you like to get together with these friends to enjoy some of these recipes and catch up on the latest happenings in their lives?

Well, welcome to the club … the cooking club, that is! Here’s how it works:

1. Getting started. Like a book club, a cooking club is a chance for moms to get together once a month for some bonding, while exploring new dishes, cuisines, and palates. The first step to starting your club is to select your members. Reach out to friends with various tastes and backgrounds, so you get a good mix of people (and dishes!). Ten members work well; chances are with kids’ schedules and busy lives, usually seven people will show up each month. Once you have your members, agree on a time and date that’s consistent. Say, the first Tuesday of the month at 8 p.m. Having a regular schedule will keep your club on track.

2. Selecting the host. Each month a different person plays “host” to the club. The job of the host is to select a theme for that month and then to “host” everyone at her house for her version of that dish. So, for example, if the theme is vegetarian, then all 10 members have to bring one recipe either from their own recipe reserve or from a trusted source (a magazine they love or a family friend). The host then invites everyone to her house that month and makes the vegetarian dish she’s most proud of and everyone hands out the recipes they brought. Discussion can soon follow over what makes that recipe so good (a dash of cumin, a hint of lemon pepper …).

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3. Coming up with different cuisines. If it’s your turn to host, here are a few good cuisine themes: Crock-Pot dishes, favorite ways to make chicken, beef that kids will eat, seafood on the grill, BBQ -- there are endless possibilities. In fact, the longer the club is in action, the more creative you can become: gluten-free dinners, Indian from scratch, even sushi.

4. Meet and eat. What’s so great about cooking club is that it’s easy and fun. If you have 10 people in your club, you only have to host once every 10 months and the other nine months you get to enjoy delicious food and great company.

5. Expanding your palate. Cooking club is a great way to update your family favorites -- meatloaf, pasta, and chicken stir-fry make way for meatless meatballs, spaghetti squash, and salmon stir-fry. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your family likes this new club.

And the best part about cooking club is it’s your cooking club. Adapt and change it however it works best for you and your group.

What theme would you most like to try if you were hosting cooking club?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

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