October 9, 2012

5 Tips for Starting a Meal Share. ~ Haley Marie Walker

We eat like kings. Well, kings that eat from Tupperware, that is.

By 4:30 p.m., I’ve finished work for the day. As an editor who spends her days hunting for misspellings and misplaced punctuations in small font, fresh air and anything other than black text on a white screen is welcome new scenery.

Although the sky is already beginning to darken and New England’s early fall 45 degree weather feels more like 30 in the wind, I’m happy to take a drive into town. Tonight, I’m cooking for six. None of these people are my children or extended family. I’m not having a dinner party. There won’t be fine china or wine. In fact, I’ll probably eat alone. But, six will be fed tonight with my arugula and beet salad and a vegan shepherd’s pie.

Last month, myself and a few neighbors and friends began a meal-sharing pact. Five nights a week, I eat a meal made by the hands and creative minds of my friends. We’ve had chili, pad thai, lasagna, stir fry, many soups and an Ethiopian stew.

On some nights, we treat each other to dessert: brownies made from black beans and cocoa powder, chocolate chip cookies and mango sorbet. We eat like kings…well kings that eat from Tupperware, that is.

photo: Bryonie Wise

Because we all lead busy lives—as a community of graduate students, writers and teachers—we pack up the food we make and usually deliver it to each home on our designated night. When I arrive home from a night of teaching yoga or a day of editing, seeing the stacked plastic containers in my refrigerator always induces some kind of relief.

Last night, two little blue dishes sat in my fridge with a little handwritten note attached to one. “Polenta with vegan chili. Kale salad with mandarin oranges and pumpkin seeds,” wrote my friend Sam. A plastic bag of homemade cookies sat on top.

Our little pact has generated a lot of enthusiasm. Part of this positive reception most likely comes from the logistics that the pact helps to solve—it’s not a secret that this saves us all time and money. But those certainly aren’t the only motivating factors.


Food is a defining feature of both individuals and communities. It’s personal. It divides and unites.

It’s more than a way we sustain our bodies. The meals remind us that we aren’t alone. And at the end of the day, more than anything, it sure is good to know that.

Tips for Starting a Meal Share

1. Find a group of people in your community that you know might be interested in doing this or that could be helped in some way from sharing meals like his.

2. Find a group who has similar meal and dietary preferences or a group that will be respectful of yours.

3. Create a schedule you all know you can keep for at least one month. It will be easier to re-evaluate things by month than week to week.

4. Make sure you pick a day that will work for you and that cooking the meal will be enjoyable, instead of another chore added into an already busy schedule.

5. Make it personal. Cook something from the heart. Maybe a recipe of your mom’s or grandmother’s and share that story with your group.


Haley Marie Walker is a freelance environmental journalist and a certified Classical Yoga teacher in Exeter, New Hampshire.




Editor: Sarah Winner

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