Re: cooking and time
From: Jean Pfleiderer (pfleiderer_jWIZARD.COLORADO.EDU)
Date: Fri, 20 May 94 13:46 CDT
How long on 
>average does it take to prepare food for 60 (to pick a number) people? 

It depends on 1) what's for dinner and 2) how many people you have cooking 
it.  At Nyland, we serve at approximately 6:00 pm.  There are very few 
people working normal hours who can get home earlier than 5:30, however, and 
there are to my knowledge NO meals that can be prepared THAT quickly.  So, 
here are some of the things I do (I work a regular job M-F, 8 to 5, and get 
home around 5:30:

1.  I often sign up to cook on Sundays.  Of course, there are more adults 
with full time jobs who want to cook on Sundays than there are Sundays in 
any given cooking rotation, so I don't ALWAYS do that.  Also, I don't 
necessarily want a Sunday in every 5 used up that way.

2.   I sign up to cook with at least 1 other person who doesn't have to work 
that afternoon.  Depending on what the meal is, if I've done the work with 
our kitchen manager on the menu and the shopping, it may be fair to have the 
other person or people do most of the prep work.

3.  I often figure on leaving an hour or two early that day (not a whole 
afternoon, though I realize that not everyone has this much job flexibility).

4.  I plan menus that largely can be prepped the night before.  (Chop all 
those veggies between eight and midnight, and leave 'em in plastic 
containers in the frig; prepare all the dry ingredients for the muffins and 
set that aside in a lidded container; make the soup and leave it simmering 
til the next night.   Some things can slow-cook all day, so start them in 
the morning before you leave.

Using a combination of these routines, I've found it not too onerous to take 
my turn in each cooking rotation, without putting my job at risk either.
>If one supposes that the majority of adults in a cohousing community 
>work full-time (aside: is this a valid assumption?)

perhaps not.  Looking around Nyland, I can think of only one of the married 
mothers of younger children who works a "regular" full time job outside the 
home, and some of the dads don't either.  We have an extraordinary number of 
therapists of various kinds, who seem to work when they want to, several 
people who seem to be surviving without any visible means of support, and 
many "handy-people" of various descriptions who find work seasonally, 
periodically, or at the cohousing community.  I could probably count on the 
fingers of both hands the number of people I regularly see heading for the 
parking lot or bus stop at the same time I do on weekday mornings--and 
that's out of 42 households.

>Is it generally harder to find cooks on 
>weekdays versus weekends?  

Perhaps oddly, that doesn't seem to have been the case at Nyland.  We 
sometimes have trouble filling all the scheduled cooking days, but it 
doesn't seem to be based on day of the week.

By the way, here's the really good news.  The first few times I cooked, we 
spent easily an hour figuring out the menu, and someone spent easily another 
hour shopping, and then we spent at least three hours before the meal 
cooking and another three cleaning up.  I now figure ten minutes to discuss 
what to fix, another ten checking on what's in stock, etc., maybe half an 
hour to shop, a total of two hours prep time (including previous night, if 
that's how we're doing it), and about an hour to clean up.  So, we're 
talking about four, maybe five, hours altogether, most of it spent enjoying 
comradery and a beer with a couple of friends in the kitchen.  There are 
definitely worse ways to spend an evening.

Jean Pfleiderer
Lafayette, Colorado

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