Starting a Cooking Club to Save Money, Eat Better

You can reduce fresh food waste, protect the environment, and help others in your community by starting a cooking club.

Reader Contribution by Aur Beck and Advanced Energy Solutions Group
article image
by Pixabay/Jörn

By starting a cooking club, you’ll not only eat better, but you’ll actually reduce the time you spend in the kitchen preparing balanced meals for your household.

A friend of mine and I have enjoyed starting a cooking club. One day each week, we cook extra and bring it to others in the cooking group.

If you’re interested in starting a cooking club, I recommend you start small, by cooking double meals one day each week and providing the extra to the other person. Soon, a third friend joined us, and I learned that it doesn’t take any more effort to cook for three families than to cook for one.

It is great to know that at least three nights a week, we will have a home-cooked meal, and two nights a week I don’t have to do anything but heat it up. And by starting a cooking club, we all get to try new foods. I started a regular slow food dinner where everyone would bring something and put on the kitchen table to come up with a meal.

We tried really hard to not make a stir-fry or a stew or soup. We did find a website and then an app where you can enter all ingredients and it would provide a list of recipes — like recipe roulette!

I also joined a freezer cooking group where we could trade in as many cooking circles as we wanted. Each circle included five or six people who each cooked enough to trade with everyone else in the group. A trade had to amount to five or six servings; each serving filled a gallon-sized freezer bag.

This freezer group also had sub-groups, including gluten-free and vegetarian. Basically, when I felt like cooking large amounts of a dish, I’d set aside six gallon freezer bags filled with the leftovers, label them with the contents and date, and freeze them. When we met once a month to trade, I’d share my leftovers and also take home five or six different foods from other members. I usually participated in two or three freezer groups or circles and ended up with 10 to 15 different meals each month.

For four years, I also hosted a weekly international slow-food cooking club called Rice and Spice. At these meetings, members learned how to feed an average of 43 people for less than $100 every week. They also realized how easy it is for most of the world to make lots of food for a great price. Our group created a cookbook fundraiser to pay for the dinner. The cookbook is still available on Amazon.

Now, I host a weekly Leave It to Chef international slow-food online cooking class. For current classes and ingredients lists, see https://www.facebook.com/leaveittochef/events.

Every week we have a different “chef” who shares something they think is simple or easy to make. For example, a regular Brazil member taught us how to make brigadeiros (Brazilian chocolate truffles), with only four ingredients and easy to prepare. Starting a cooking club has allowed me to learn different cultures’ foodways. I’ve learned many new ways to make simple, good, and usually inexpensive food.


Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years and he works as Chief Tech for AES Solar. He can be reached at tech@AESsolar.com . He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!?Facebook page.


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