Last week I gave you an overview of my non-scientific analysis of podcast advertisers, including the companies that send food to your door for you to prepare, and/or provide grocery lists and meal plans for the week.

I told you it reminded me of a funny story and, in fact, it reminded me of two. I will tell you about one today and perhaps get to the other one another time.

Even without the Internet, back when we were raising our children, there were methods and gimmicks to help us economize and save time when it came to preparing meals for our busy families. One of these was called a “dinner co-op.” Under this plan, four families would go in together and on Monday through Thursday, one family was responsible for dinner for all families on one night.

For example, if your day was Monday, in addition to preparing dinner for your family for Monday night, the family meal preparer would also prepare it for the other three families and deliver it to them. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, your dinner would be delivered to you by a representative of the family responsible for that night. (I am purposely not saying preparation and delivery were done by the wife and mother in each family, even though that was usually the case, because I refuse to open myself up to sexism accusations).

The beauty of this, of course, was you only had to prepare dinner one night and on three nights it would be prepared for you.
(As an aside, the plan I have heard about on podcasts also works on a Monday-to-Thursday model. I guess there has long been an assumption that everyone fends for themselves, eats leftovers or fasts Friday through Sunday).

This was when we were living in Little Rock and this little program was catching on like wildfire. Ladies were giving seminars in churches and other venues about it.

My wife, raising three children, working part-time from home and often pressed for time, convinced me this was for us. Preparing dinner one weeknight and someone else doing it three nights? She was in.

She did not attend one of the seminars. She simply recruited two other wives/mothers/family representatives to join her.

As I recall, they were unable to find another so the first week we were just going to do it three nights and try to recruit another family later. Alas, we only made it through two.

As I recall, it was supposed to be a simple, economical meal and was to be delivered in certain dishes that would be circulated among the group as the co-op continued. So right off the bat, there was some upfront cost other than the food. There was no time to go to a Tupperware party, so we made a considerable, not inexpensive, investment in other brands of containers.

I recall some dietary restrictions in the other two families. Thank goodness gluten-free wasn’t a thing yet, but there were at least a couple family members with food allergies. I guess somehow we worked around that.

I believe we were responsible for Monday, Night One. On Sunday afternoon my wife decided she didn’t have enough, so there was another trip to the grocery store. The cost was adding up.

She spent all day Monday cooking. When I arrived home from work, our kitchen was a wreck and she was exhausted. I walked in the door as she was walking out to deliver the other meals.

I made a casual, well-meaning inquiry about whether the benefit would outweigh the cost, both in time and money, and simply got “the look” in response to my question.

I think I also suggested our children ride along with her to make the deliveries. She replied, “Seriously?”

So our moods weren’t exactly congenial as the dinner co-op was kicked off.

Since she was and is a great cook, I’m sure whatever she prepared was delicious, but I don’t remember what it was.

Tuesday night, our dinner was delivered. I have no memory of what that was either.

What I do remember is we all got a stomach bug later that night. And so did members of the other families.

On Wednesday, the Night Three mom was too sick to prepare Wednesday night’s meal. We were all feeling better in our family by Wednesday night, but there was no food because we had planned on having dinner delivered. We had to go out to eat.

Rather than push their Night Three obligation to Thursday night, on Thursday morning the Wednesday night family gave notice they were opting out.

I don’t know if they decided the risk of sickness would too great with this new meal plan or what, but they were done. I thought that was a bit rude.

I was practicing law at the time and I don’t know why I didn’t think to get everything in writing on the front end so these people would have been contractually obligated to provide a meal for us, especially after we had provided one for them. A simple liquidated damages clause would have at least required them to pay for our having to go out to eat.

With only two families left, our dinner co-op died a natural death. Our little experiment that was supposed to save us time and money had the opposite effect. I spent way more than usual on food that week. We got sick. My wife was stressed after spending an entire day
cooking and we had plastic containers running out our ears.

And while I would never be petty, someone still owes me a meal.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].

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