My husband is a tax accountant. From mid-January until mid-April, he works insane hours-- 100+ hour weeks, Sundays his only day off. Many days he doesn't have time to do more than microwave an instant mac and cheese or Cup O' Noodles and eat it at his desk while he works. He can have food delivered, but that's expensive and not that healthy either. Wednesday nights dinner is provided for the employees, but that leaves 5 nights a week when he's not eating well or skipping dinner completely and just snacking at work. Considering he usually doesn't have time for lunch, either, that's not really a good thing. And by the time he gets home he's so tired that in the battle between food and sleep, sleep often wins out.
I decided that this year we needed to do something different. I toyed with the idea of a Mr. Bento, but that seemed like a lot of work for him (since I'm often not up when he leaves for work so he'd basically be packing a complicated lunch every day, time that could be spent sleeping instead. I know him; he'd choose to sleep. Because of the way the bento jar works, it couldn't be packed the night before, really, not without extra work in the morning and extra dishes to boot.)
Then I hit upon the idea of using a crockpot. I love my crockpots; I do lots of crockpot cooking and even taught an Enrichment activity class for my Relief Society. But if I was going to cook for one in a crockpot, that a) might not go over well and b) would be a lot of work for one person. So I came up with another idea: why not keep a crockpot at his work and offer anyone in his office a chance to sign up and chip in for dinner each night, and that way they could ALL eat a decent meal each day, save money, be healthier in their food choices, and we'd have more of a budget for nicer meal choices?
And so the Tax Season Crockpot Co-Op was born. For each 2-week period that a co-worker wants to participate, s/he will chip in $20. Five days a week (every day but Sunday and Wednesday) I will send my husband to work with a pre-filled crock of food and instructions on how to cook it (I'll be aiming for things that can go 8-12 hours in the crock on low most days.) That works out to $2/person/night for a complete meal-- can't get that price ordering in! That's less than you could spend on a frozen dinner, even! Weekly a 5-lb. box of spring mix salad, salad dressings, and salad "fixin's" will also be provided, and daily there will sometimes be a side dish (such as a bread or fruit) to complete the meal. We anticipate that each dish made will be made to serve 8-12 people, since participation may vary from fortnight to fortnight.
On this blog I'll chronicle our menus, recipes (with links to where I found them online and notes on modifications I made, or a post of my own on the recipe I'm using), notes on what went over well and what didn't, or anything else I come up with that seems relevant. :) I find it useful to have an online repository of this information, and friends on a forum have asked that I share it, hence the blog.
So watch this space! I'm sure I'll discover some really great recipes and you can benefit from the experiment, too!