If you’re a busy university student looking for a way to eat a delicious home-cooked meal every night, the solution might be right in front of you — get your housemates to start preparing communal dinners.
I live with six other girls and last year we decided to give cooking communal dinners a try. Five of us opted in to the arrangement, so we had meals prepared from Monday to Friday every week.
Whenever I tell people that we manage to make this system work despite our busy schedules, they’re skeptical if the method can be applied to their own household. However, I’m here to assure you that it really is simple and any house can do it if they’re willing.
Once you’ve assembled your willing housemates into the arrangement, have everyone start by picking a day of the week when they have a decent amount of free time to pick up groceries and plan a meal. If you have enough people on board, you can get the whole week covered, but even a couple of days is better than always cooking alone.
On your designated day, you’re responsible for coming up with a meal idea, cooking, setting the table and doing the dishes. The beauty of the arrangement is that for only a few hours of cooking and cleaning per week, you receive multiple wonderful meals, ready the moment you step in the front door.
Do some of your housemates have dietary restrictions or allergies? Not to worry — if they still want to participate, it’s easier than you’d think to incorporate alternate options.
For example, if you’re cooking for a vegetarian, it’s easy to have a singular portion of veggies ready to trade for meat products. If you want to cook with an ingredient that one of your housemates is allergic to, their meal can be prepared in a separate pot or pan to prevent cross-contamination.
If some of your housemates have a time conflict with when you have dinner ready, simply leave their plate of food in the fridge for them to eat when they get home. Even if they’re cramming for an exam and grab dinner on campus one night, they’ll appreciate eating a ready-made meal for lunch the next day.
Another benefit of this arrangement is you will waste less food by preparing meals that serve multiple people. Cooking for one can be difficult when produce and meats are sold in large portions, so communal cooking ensures all ingredients get used up.
While these conveniences are certainly beneficial, the best part about communal meals is the quality time it creates between you and your housemates. Between school, work and extra-curriculars, it can sometimes feel like you don’t even have time to hang out with the people you’d expect to see the most.
Committing to eating dinner together is easy to do, saves everyone time and guarantees that you’re staying connected to the people you live with.
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