Common meal costs
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 09:03:03 -0700 (PDT)
Port Townsend WA.
Someone expressed amazement that RoseWind Cohousing meals go for $4. Here's a more full picture. The supper cooks can use produce from the vegetable garden: the community as a whole pays for a couple family-size shares in our Garden Club (rather like a CSA). So in season, which in the Northwest is quite a while, there are all sorts of greens, broccoli, cabbage, beets, onions, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, rhubarb, etc. Not every meal uses garden produce, but it's an option for keeping costs down, not to mention providing just-picked local organic produce. Last winter, when the garden wasn't producing much, we added an extra fifty cents to the price.

We don't eat a lot of meat. There may often be a dish with chicken or sausage in it. I've never seen a steak or chop or roast. Salmon is the big treat, but is local, so not as expensive as elsewhere in the country. If there is an expensive component to the meal, like salmon, the cooks can either post a higher cost (an extra dollar, for example, but it's happened rarely), or decide they want to donate the extra cost (sometimes a birthday feast by a family who can afford to treat, for example.) Cooks don't get charged for that meal, so for a couple the first $8 over would only amount to paying for their own meal, in effect. If over budget, cooks can also announce that leftovers are for sale (honor system, tell the bookkeeper "charge me $x for leftovers"); usually leftovers are free, with first dibs going to the cooks. We have a drawer full of yogurt containers etc for people to take home extras.

The fifty cents a meal for the kitty provides flours, spices, oils, butter, condiments, and such. So if I make homemade bread, for example, it doesn't take anything from my shopping budget. Cookies, ditto. If meals are under budget, they still cost the same, with the extra going into the kitty for staples (like organic olive oil at $45 a can!).

Many of our meals are fairly simple. The last one I cooked was a red lentil blended soup (with tomato, onion, garlic, broth), green salad, rye bread slices with cheddar cheese melted on them, garlic bread, sour cream garnish for the soup, and a rhubarb crisp. (Plus alternative non-wheat bread and non-cow cheese, and some fresh fruit dessert, for a couple people with allergies.) I think it came to under $3 each.
And some are more elaborate.

We often serve organic food (including the pantry staples) and strive for as much local as possible. There's a good Food Co-op here, and a seasonal Farmer's Market.

Lynn Nadeau

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