Paying and Accounting for meals.
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2017 13:45:54 -0800 (PST)
I was asked this question off-list but I thought it might begin this thread 
again on list to see if we get new responses.

We are having an average of two meals a week — one a defined rotating group of 
cook/clean teams, and a second scheduled by a cook/clean team. They vary from 
about 20-30. Big holidays 40+

The rotating group is Soup ’n Simple on Mondays. Cook/clean teams sign up on a 
rotating basis. The rotation lasts as long as there are cook/clean teams signed 
up. Then a new rotation starts with a new sign up list. Some cooks or cleaners 
take seasons off — often summers— and miss a rotation or two. Some cook/cleaner 
teams are stable from one rotation to the next. Others mix and match for a 
rotation. Some have fixed meals that they repeat — like Tacos with Vanilla 
Wafers and orange slices for dessert, and sometimes watermelon in the summer.

For these meals, the team pays for the meal. Other members of the rotation pay 
nothing. People who are not members of the rotation ask to join a meal, 
reserving in advance, and paying $4 for adults and $2 for children. The taco 
meal has lots of extras.

This has worked well continuously for many, many years, sometimes skipping a 
summer rotation. The group finds that rotation of 6 weeks works well, but if 
they have to cook more often than that, the benefit declines.

We have other meals, an increasing number, that are individually scheduled by 
the cook/cleaner team. Sometimes volunteers are solicited by the Community 
Team; and for others, a cook or cook/clean team spontaneously schedules a meal. 
These often have themes — chili cook-off, Pesto Festo, Pumpkin Squash Bash, 
holiday dinners, Sunday Brunches, etc. Some of these are pot lucks and some 

For individually scheduled meals, often the cook contributes the core of the 
meal and others bring salads, desserts, etc. People pay $4/$2 to the cook as 
indicated. Some cooks don’t care to be reimbursed. The Pesto Festo meal is 
basil from the garden so the expense is  pine nuts and spaghetti. People 
contribute pine nuts, bread, salad, etc. Others pay the cook. Cooks usually 
report coming out ahead. Some members personally take responsibility for being 
sure there is enough money in the basket and if not put out a general call for 
contributions or pass the basket. This is rarely necessary.

The community reimburses the cooks for workday meals.

Thus we haven’t had checking accounts. We tried meal cards but it was more 
trouble than it was worth. Pay as you go has worked well. Particularly since 
the most frequent meal is the Monday night rotation where little money is 

Sometimes people find themselves with lots of leftovers from a party or too 
many vegetables left when they go on vacation. These are often left in the 
refrigerator and announced as first come first serve. One person had a large 
amount of desserts left from a conference. She announced dessert at 8:30 and a 
group gathered spontaneously in the CH.

A few summers we had spontaneous Chinese and pizza takeout groups gather in the 
piazza on Friday nights. Variable attendance and very loose socializing. 
Depends on current population and what else is going on. Sometimes people will 
announce that the gas grill will be fired up in the piazza and people bring 
food to grill and often something else to share.

In the beginning (and sometimes now) we had BYOD for which people brought a 
tray with their own dinner and often a dish to share.

For us, I think this works well. Both the spontaneity and occasionality with 
each week. Some would like more frequent meals and others more formal meals. 
People are always free to schedule more meals.

We just added a potluck after the membership meeting and before the monthly 
Birthday Celebrations with treats brought in rotation by one household for 

Cooks are still stepping forward but from requests for more cleaners, I think 
this is as full as our lives can handle.

I’m not a cook/clean or regular dinner in the CH person so this is from 
observation and email requests and responses.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.