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Published on September 10th, 2008 | by Kelli Best-Oliver

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Host A Food Swap Party: Five Ideas For Themes You’ll Love

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Don’t have time to try new recipes?  Want to have homemade value-added products on hand, but don’t have the time to make them all?  The next time you and a group of foodie friends get together, make it a food swap.

You may be familiar with a recipe swap; I belong to an online recipe swap blog for local bloggers. A food swap is similar.  Its a party where, based on pre-established guidelines, all guests provide multiple portions of food items, and each guest takes home a number of different items made by others.  Food swaps are a great idea for two huge reasons: you can try foods/recipes you might not be familiar with or have thought of, and you can save a huge amount of time by making a large quantity of one item, but get the benefits of coming away with a variety of dishes and foods.

This can take many forms and themes.  Here’s five themes to get you started, after the jump…

  1. Nerd’s Eye View attended a soup swap.  Each guest made six frozen portions of a homemade soup.  The hosts then drew numbers, and each guest took turns picking a container to take home until each had six.  The host even had prizes for the first soup selected and the last.
  2. If you’ve got several gardening friends, try a harvest produce swap.  Many gardeners have something that produces more than they need.  For us (and many others), it’s basil.  For others, tomatoes or zucchini.  Bring your surplus and swap for what you didn’t grow. Think about it: if everyone planted different tomato varieties–you can take home those zebras that you might not have planted, yet make sure your extra beefsteaks find a good home.
  3. Indulge your DIY side with a value-added swap.  Maybe you jar your own salsa, pesto, or pasta sauce or can your own jams and jellies.  These make great swap items  It doesn’t take much to bottle your own flavored oils or vinegars, and I bet jars of marinated feta would be hot items.  Even non-cooks can make spice blends or dip mixes.
  4. Rookie Moms recommend parents who make their own baby food participate in swaps.  That way, you can get a variety of foods without the mess of multiple batches.
  5. For busy households, a frozen dinner swap is the homegrown version of those meal-prep shops–at a fraction of the cost.  Each person brings enough four-serving portions of a freezable dinner for each guest: think casseroles, pastas, perhaps a pan of enchiladas.  Presto!  You’ve got several dinners on hand for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook

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About the Author

A former high school teacher, I'm currently a part-time writer/full-time doctoral student at the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities, studying leadership in education from a critical pedagogy perspective along with public policy. On the green side, I'm interested in local food and agriculture (Iowa girl, born and raised), sustainability education, DIY projects, and grassroots activism. I'm slowly turning my South City, St Louis home into an urban farmstead. On the hoping-to-be-greener side, I love reading, yoga, soccer, music, backpacking, knitting, pop culture and trivia, my Tuesday Night Dinner Club, traveling, Guitar Hero, dive bars, and sitting on front porches with my husband and a cold beer. I came to Green Options via a post on Sustainablog,working the St Louis angle to get Jeff to let me in. I have a personal blog chronicling (what else?) life in South St. Louis. Follow me on Twitter!



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  • http://greenoptions.com/author/tarabenwell Tara

    Cool post. I love the idea of the baby food swap. Wish I had known that one a few years ago!

  • Gloria

    This is a great post — chock full of ideas! I’m going to try this.

  • http://www.heyfood.org Michael Vandeven

    Hey! There is a new social food swapping website called http://www.heyfood.org where people can organize their own weekly meal swap party. Currenly me and 30 friends organize our own meal swap party and it has been a life saver.

    We each feature what food we will bring to the swap online before the swap so we can plan who we want to swap food with at the future food swap. This way we know what food we will be receiving and how many portions we should cook and bring to the swap. After the swap we all come home with all kinds of delicious meals to eat during the busy work week.

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