Start your Own Cooking Club
Happy October! This time of year has got me thinking about my sweet cooking club. We started meeting together 2 years ago this October and it has been so fun sharing meals, laughing, crying, praying together and just connecting with other women in my church.
I had been thinking of starting a cooking club with some other moms in our church, but being a new mom myself, I was just beginning to form some friendships with other mamas. So I didn't know who exactly to invite!
I happened to see a post on our church's mom's Facebook group of some other mamas wanting to get together, commiserating about how the days can be lonely sometimes when you're home with the kiddos. I commented that I wanted to get together with some other women to share a meal - nothing fancy, these women didn't have to consider themselves great cooks, but just to get to know each other and spur each other on towards the Lord.
From there, I emailed whoever said they were interested and we set up a time to meet! I still remember the first time these women came over to my house. I was definitely nervous but also so excited to get to know everyone. Immediately we hit it off and talked and laughed well into the night.
I've heard of many different set-ups for cooking clubs (or supper clubs as I've heard them called as well) but here's what we do - and hopefully this will get you started if you've been thinking of starting your own!
Cooking club is for any woman! You might decide to do a small devo, use conversation cards (more below), share testimonies, or talk about life and pray for one another. Our group is just moms from our church but I think ALL women - moms, working women, single gals, empty nesters - could benefit from a monthly time to gather around the table. I also want to say that starting a cooking club could be an amazing way for you to reach out to people who aren't like you - racially, economically, etc. Being with others not like us rubs on us, but it is SO good for our soul.
Invite 4-8 women to your group. Any less and it's not really a club, and any more doesn't allow for deep enough connection, I think. Of course this will depend on the space and seating you have available, but don't be afraid to break out the folding chairs to make more room!
If you are initiating the group, sometimes it can be discouraging when women don't respond to your invitation. My encouragement would be to invite, remind them once and then move on if they aren't responding. The point of cooking club is community, and not everyone is open to that.
Once a month seems to work really well for most people. Between cooking clubs we meet up for play dates which has helped us become better friends. We typically begin at 7:30 and come with most of our food prepared. The first few minutes we're looking for serving spoons, finishing up the baking, or warming up soup, then we sit down to enjoy our meal together. We don't have an end time and this has gotten us in trouble before! (Specifically me when my sweet husband thought I was in a wreck or something when he called my phone a few times at 11 pm and I didn't answer...oops). You might want to set an end time just to make things easier.
Every once in a while we will use conversation cards, but since we all get along so well we usually don't! However, I do like having them out to give us something tangible to point us back to the Lord so we don't spend the whole time gabbing about our kiddos.
Check out the IF:Table website for more inspiration!
There are currently 4 women in our group, and we switch off hosting each month. Whoever hosts, obviously has it in her home, and also chooses the theme for us that month. For the holiday months we combine November and December and usually have our holiday cooking club the first couple of weeks in December, since those months have way more than usual on the calendar.
To keep things organized, we try to map out who will be hosting 6 months ahead of time. We start an email chain and everyone picks a month. That way we're not scrambling and can plan ahead. We haven't set aside a specific day (like always meeting on the 3rd Friday of the month, for example) because schedules always seem to conflict when we have done that in the past, so instead the host will send out a couple dates and we will choose one that works best for everyone.
Some of the themes we've done in the past have been breakfast, french food, whole 30 inspired, and childhood favorites. Get creative with themes! It's always so fun and lets us get out of the box a little as we try new recipes.
Some other theme ideas:
- different cultures
- summer (or any season) food
- pick something from a cookbook everyone has, or something from a blog everyone can look at (for example, let's all make something out of the Joy of Cooking!)
- seafood night
- appetizers for dinner
- comfort food
- new years (a new recipe you've never tried)
- soup and salad
- a color theme (like everything green!)
- Mardi Gras
I honestly can't remember what I challenged our women to when we first started....but I think I said let's commit to meeting for a year and see what happens. I think 1 year is a good time line to give women the chance to opt out if they feel cooking club doesn't fit into their life anymore, or other life changes make them unable to attend. For ours, we made it super casual and never readdressed commitment, we've just kept on meeting!
I think you could do it any way here...I know of some cooking clubs who intentionally split and start new ones to make room for more women to experience the same life giving community they have experienced. I think that's wonderful! Others I know of have met with the same group of women for 10 years. At yet others include husbands as well. So, I think it's totally up to you!