Community Kitchen: Sharing costs and fun

Frugal Gourmet takes on Community Kitchen in Barriere

Barriere’s Frugal Gourmet is transitioning it’s services into more of a community kitchen style beginning this month.

What are community kitchens?

A community kitchen is a group of people of all ages and abilities who come together on a regular basis to socialize and cook affordable and nutritious meals.  Through sharing and cooking in bulk, people who attend are able to produce meals at a lower cost than individuals who cook at home for themselves.

“Everyone gets together and pools their food together, and then works together to get the most out of it.  By sharing, everyone can get more out of it… and have more variety… and some fun.” says Grace Baker of Yellowhead Community Services.

The participants then sit down to share the meal, or divide it up for each person to take home.  Participants are asked to bring their own storage containers to carry the food home in.

“It’s great because I may have too many tomatoes and you might have too many onions.  The next person may have a pound of hamburger, but no veggies, and by sharing we can all go home with an awesome tomato sauce that we wouldn’t have been able to make without an extra cost on our own.  Everybody helps, everybody eats great.  It’s like the old country kitchens,” says Baker.

Community kitchens are for everybody in the community and people from many different walks of life attend.  The cost is $10 a month.  Register before Jan. 20, 2014, by calling 250-672-9773.

Even if you can’t attend, it’s a good way to clean out your deep freeze in the winter and donate unwanted produce in the summer.  If you would like to donate anything, or produce of any kind, fruit or vegetables, or donate any canning equipment, please contact Yellowhead Community Services at 250-672-9773.

What is involved?

The group will meet once a month.  They will generally cook three to five recipes in a cooking session.  This will allow everyone to have at least one serving of each recipe to take home, including at least one or more main meals.

As an example, in January, everyone is asked to bring one pound of ground meat or protein (any kind) and the group will be making enough of a main meal for everyone to go home with a meal… and some extra goodies as well.  It might be a soup, salad, bread, dessert, etc., or a combination of these.

Benefits of community kitchens; participants have reported positive changes in:

• Shopping – saving money on food costs and time.

• Access to food – increased availability of food without extra cost, increased variety.

• Social skills – communication and interpersonal skills.

• Increased fun.

• Cooking – learning new recipes, cooking techniques.

• Greater motivation to cook at home.

• Confidence and self esteem both in the kitchen and out.

Food is about community; it always has been and it always will be.  The community kitchen is a concept as old as time.  People have always come together to cook,share costs, time and experiences all over the world.  Peru boasts 10,000 community kitchens, serving over three million people, a model that inspired the community kitchen’s conception in Canada.

The centrality of food throughout history reveals this profound truth:

Picture the single parent.  They are strapped for time and resources, overwhelmed by the pressure of caring for their small children in our community.  The situation may seem somber, until we picture this person in a bustling kitchen with many others, shoulder to shoulder.  Preparing food together is an activity that people have taken part in together for centuries.  This is how Kate Sigurdson, Special Projects Coordinator for Field to Table describes the community kitchen experience in an excerpt from “If time began in a garden, then community began in the kitchen: restoring the lost art of food and community” by Jamie Richards.

It’s not just for young parents, it’s for everyone.

“Everyone is welcome.  Why not save some money and have some fun?  Everybody please come and we’ll have a great time,” Baker invites.