Monday, March 31, 2014

Meal Plans

This is not your average meal plan. Our son is living off campus (his senior year) with six other guys. They shop, they cook and they eat together 5 nights a week! 
How this works: A housemate set up an Excel spreadsheet, researching the price of staple grocery items: just how much he thought each of the guys would consume and projected a cost per guy per month. Then off toCostco they go. They have a "house credit card," two of them are in charge of that; shoppers (they take turns); cooks (two seem to be the chief cooks) and dishes (clean up). It's costing them $8-$10 a day to eat and they eat well. A protein, a carb, a vegetable, a fruit per dinner. There's been pork loin, beef, spaghetti, grilled chicken....impressive. Ten to fifteen minutes before dinner is served a mass text goes out letting the other guys know, "dinner in ten." Everyone drops whatever they're doing and gets back to the house to eat.
What's really nice about this is these guys eat together, talk, share what they've been up to, bring up any issues, discuss stuff....it's great. It's amazing that they've been able to keep this up. Have there been glitches?  Sure. For example: Some are better than others in the cleaning up department, some tend to do the shopping AND cooking, so the distribution of labor isn't exacly equitable. Now this isn't a problem, yet, but it could be. So hopefully, they'll discuss this as a group as things come up, not behind backs. Their major glitch has been company. How do you handle company? And specifically, how do you handle someone who just happens to be over at the time of dinner three times a week, and then eats three times a week and is not paying? Real "life" stuff.
How do they navigate this? Honesty. They all are sitting around the table, including the guy who's been enjoying dinner for free and it's brought up. Out in the open. If he wants to continue eating with them then he needs to pay his fair share. He needs to participate in the shopping, cooking and cleaning, otherwise, he's not welcome. These guys can't and shouldn't carry him. Now I know that this is easier said than done. Each guy comes from a different set of financial circumstances and no one wants to be the 'heavy" on this, but the guy who's enjoying "free dinners" doesn't want to develop the reputation of "freeloader," either. This needs to be brought up, nip this in the bud, before there are bad feelings, even if it's just with a couple of the guys. This is home for a year and those that live there want to feel comfortable in their own home. This is also "real life," nothing is free, it's the old "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." Life's lessons.
It was just parents weekend and all of us parents arrived for our last one.  What was great, was Saturday night the guys put on dinner for all of us. Italian food, tables set up, chairs, wine and beer. OK, true confession, "pop cup" ensued.  It was a lot of fun!
~Beppie

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