Category Archives: Networking

Planning A Cook-In: The 5 X 3 Way

picture of pork meal.

Pulled and diced chicken with rice and veggies are three key ingredients for many 5 X 3 meals. ‘K-Bobs and Stuffed pepper are pictured here.

by donR  October 14, 2016

Choosing meals for a Cook-In is made easier by creating a 5 X 3 chart. It is just a list of featured ingredients which you cook and package to use as a base for three future meals.  A well-stocked pantry provides additional ingredients to complement the featured items 

Previously, we described how pork loin roasts can be cooked  and packaged for use in many different ways. Chicken and turkey, are featured in this article. Read more about these and other versatile ingredients to  use when planning 5 X 3 Cook-Ins. Continue reading

April’s Cook-In: Do-It-Yourself Month

Biscuit pot pies are easy to make during a cook-in

Pizzas are easy to make during a cook-in.

With the nice weather approaching, the FMP will wait until September before hosting our next Cook-In. So, we declare April as “DO-It-Yourself Month” Spring is a perfect time to host simple Cook-Ins from your home, church, park or community kitchen. Here are some ideas for keeping your first one simple, short and fun. Continue reading

Host A Simple Community Dinner: Food, Fun, and conversation

Our cook-ins, like the Community Kitchens in Seattle, provide a place for people to gather, assemble meals to take home, enjoy a dinner they helped cook and build friendships..

Teens can get together for an evening of fun, food and conversation.

Teens can get together for an evening of fun, food and conversation at a “Community Dinner.” Photo: iclipart

For those of you who want a simple evening with two or three other families, draw upon ideas developed by The Family Dinner Project. Their idea is to get people together for an evening of food, fun and conversation. Read more to find out how you can plan this simple event and download their organizers’ toolkit. Continue reading

Food Bank Cook-In: A Saturday Delight


Freshly ground spices add to the flavor of skillet meals.


We held our first Ferndale Food Bank cook-in featuring a meal of the month.  It was so much fun sharing ideas that we failed to notice the busy activity in the food bank or how cramped we were in our 8 X 14 room. Now if you think you need a commercial kitchen to work in, you are mistaken. All you need is a sink, counter space, small appliances and delightful people willing to roll up their sleeves and cook. We found out that: Continue reading

Networking To Share Tips & Tricks

Our tagline lists “sharing” as an important part of the project. It has meaning when you think about sharing food at the table. In a broader sense, it means to network: connect with others to exchange ideas. This is what I call a support group. The group can be family, friends, or just people with similar interests. How can people benefit by networking with a support group?  I’ll give you three examples and you can decide,

  1. leadership 3

    Geof Morgan led the discussion.

    leadership 1

    Representatives from 12 programs shared ideas.

    Don is describing the FMP core ideas.

    Don is describing the FMP core ideas.

       Our program, The Family Meals Project, is growing.  We piloted six night classes, food bank classes, cook-ins, events, presentations and this website. Which would best complement existing programs?  We invited people from a dozen organizations to  meet with us to find out. The results were fantastic. Everyone shared ideas and we, as a group,decided that:

  • The FMP is important to our community.
  • The best way to reach people is to continue the  cook-ins.
  • Use the website to connect with food delivery programs.
  • Use social media more effectively.
  • Our meeting was a great way to meet new people.

2. Research Institutions and Companies bring the best minds in the world together to form “think tanks.”  The Manhattan Project which developed the Atomic bomb was essentially born in a think tank.  Networking is an efficient way to solve a problem. It includes:

  • A group working together to share past experiences and define the problem clearly.
  • Brainstorming to list ideas and solutions which sparks the mind to create more ideas and solutions.
  • A way to throw out some ideas and identify the best ones

3. Cooperative learning was a popular teaching strategy in the early 1990’s. Students were arranged in groups to share information, compare ideas, split the research load, reassemble to compare conclusions. My students were taught to network and used it. But more importantly, they accepted responsibility for the role they played in their group. They worked hard to insure every studentorking together to perform a task.  It’s a give and take situation where everyone contributes. There is a lot to be gained when you pool ideas but you do not need to act on new ideas if they do not fit your needs.

The Main Idea

Identify people you can work with and form a support group. Plan meals together, shop and share food, cook together. I trust you will find that networking allows ideas to be shared and cooking will be easier.

Networking Do’s And Don’ts During Discussions

  • Understand that everyone’s ideas have value.
  • Agree to sometimes disagree.
  • Listen to the whole story before reacting.
  • Be engaging: Listen more, talk less.
  • Give eye contact and a nod when you understand.
  • Stick to the topic at hand.
  • Don’ts? You know those. 

A Testemonial

Before the idea of Family Meals Project was created I had experience with the idea of coming together to create food for a group to take home individually to their families.  One such time really sticks in my memory.  It was a group of teachers who spent one Saturday in the school home-economics room just before Christmas making cookies, fudge and treats together for the holidays.  This turned into a yearly event and we shared family histories and how each traditional treat came to be.  I learned the family history of colleagues  that I had been working with for years.  We might never have shared these stories and memories if not for this cookie making event.  At the end of the day we each took part of every creation home; boxed ready for our own Christmas tradition.    Ardis Rieland