I have found with talking with friends that cooking for us during the week is stressful (go figure). There are certain nights that we have to be out, or have very little prep time. One thing I have been doing the last month is cooking with friends. . . or casserole trading. The idea is simple: you cook one recipe two times and trade it with a friend. This is a great way to have those meals ready to go on those busy nights. You each have dinner for the family with half of the work. If you have three friends- you make it three times- and trade.
Some things I have learned so far:
1. If a casserole is meant to go in a 9x13 pan, it is about double what a family of four will eat. So, I would suggest making the same recipe, but dividing it in to 2 8x8 pans (standard cake pan). Two meals for the price of one.
2. Look at cost of the recipe before you begin. If it involves a lot of cheese or meat, it can add up quickly.
3. If you are cooking with a larger group, like a group of five or more, try to find a large kitchen to cook in. I had a group of friends cook together at our church. It was wonderful to spread out!
4. Find out allergies- peanuts and seafood are not uncommon in our little groups We have one family friend who is allergic to bananas. Same with spicy foods. . . discuss with your friend before.
5. Go for a test run first. When I am trying new recipes, I am now thinking about- would it freeze well, will kids like it, what is going to be the best way to store it, etc.
Here is the recipe trade I did today (recipes will follow):
Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
Beef Enchilada Casserole
Old World Manicotti with Spinich