My friend and I started in December sharing our dinner meals - she cooks twice a week for my family and I cook twice for her family. We basically double the recipe and deliver the meal to the other family. It is working out - we are getting new tasty meals and I have less work in the kitchen each week. I also think the appreciation we get from another family adds to the joy of cooking a good meal.
When we started the shared cooking, I decided the kids had to eat what we eat. It has been a challenge, and they have eaten a few bowls of cereal and PB&J when the meal just was not going down. However, they have tried things they would never have had the opportunity to try. And sometimes, to their great surprise, they have enjoyed it.
One thing I added to our new dinnertime is a plate of fruits and vegetables for everyone to share. I think I read about it in a magazine awhile ago, and it is a variation of my sister's mystery dinner night. She takes all her leftovers, puts them on a plate and family members take what they want. I do something similar with the fruits and veggies. Depending on what I have stocked, I cut up apples and bananas, add grapes and strawberries, cucumbers and broccoli, put them on a plate and serve.
It has been a weird and strange thing to watch what happens with the fruit and veggie plate. Everything disappears and often there is a fight over the last piece of fruit on the plate. They eat way more than if I had simply put the items on their plate. My husband and I look at each other in confusion. We have had lengthy discussions over the why. We have come up with - it looks attractive on the plate, they get to choose what they want and nothing is forced upon them.