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Tomato and Wild Rice Soup

Tomato and Wild Rice Soup
3 Tbsp Butter

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 medium chopped onion

3 chopped carrots
2 16 oz. Cans diced tomatoes

2 c. Chicken broth

1 c. Rice (Combo of:wild/whole grain brown/and white rice)

Pinch of Salt & Pepper

2 Tbsp. fresh basil

3 cups whole milk


Saute the first four ingredients together in soup pan for 10 min:
Add the next five ingredients.

Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Then add: 3 cups of whole milk and more chicken broth if necessary.

Optional add ins:

Cooked shredded chicken

Corn

Serve up warm with breadsticks or in a bread bowl. Delicious!

Helpful Hints for a Dinner Exchange Group

1. Find 2 neighbors to join you in exchanging dinners. It helps if the families have similar ages and numbers of family members.

2. Pick a day and time of the week to make & deliver your dinners. You will need a way to enter your neighbors’ home to deliver their meals, even if they are not home. Weekends are not part of the exchange.

3. Be aware of likes & dislikes, allergies, or diet restrictions when planning meals.

.5. After making the dinners, divide food into three separate family portions. You don’t need to buy any extra or expensive dishes to deliver your meals. Use what containers you might already have.

6. The easiest way to deliver a dinner is to put a complete meal into a box or structure that you can carry from your home, into the car, and into your neighbors house. Leave the meal on the kitchen counter, a warming drawer, or in the refrigerator if necessary.

7. Be flexible and have fun! Take into consideration holidays, sick days, vacations, etc. Don’t feel the pressure to cook a perfect meal every time, or for others to be perfect also. Make it fun for your kids to take and receive meals.

Years ago, in the days of “Leave it to Beaver” or “Brady Bunch”, the American family sat down together, at the same time, night after night, and enjoyed a nice meal. Compare that to today, when dinner time is probably the most stressful time of the day for most American families. Starting right after school our children are involved in lessons, sports, apmts, and activities that go well into the evening hours. Whether we have been busy driving our kids around or we have been at work all day, the stress is the same: At some point, we all need to eat dinner, and ideally we would like to have this be a time where we are together and have a nice meal, not just fast food that we stopped to pick up, which is expensive and might not be so healthy. To do this we are going to have to have a plan already in place for dinner. It doesn’t just happen on its own!

Can you imagine coming home, after having worked all day, and after your wife has ran errands and kids around all afternoon, and having a nice warm dinner sitting on your kitchen counter? You look around and your kitchen is clean, none of that food preparation mess. This is not a dream, it can really happen!

Here is an idea, a plan, that might help simplify the “dinner dilemma” at your house and that of your neighbors’ house also. I call it “Dinner Exchange”. Dinner Exchange can save you money and lots of time. Let me explain how it works. First of all you need to….

1. Find 2 neighbors to join you in exchanging dinners. It helps if the families have similar ages and numbers of family members.

This might sound intimidating, the idea of making dinner for someone else. But you have got to get over that notion. Don’t let that be a stress in your life. If you can make dinner for someone else, and in return eat someone else’s food also, this plan is perfect.

Three families is a perfect set up for the exchange. Any more would make cooking preparation difficult and unmanageable.
Use common sense in finding similar families. If I had a family of four I would not want to cook for a family of nine. Also consider the ages of your children. Families with teenage children will eat a lot more than a family with young children.

2. Pick a day and time of the week to make & deliver your dinners. You will need a way to enter your neighbors home to deliver their meals, even if they are not home. Weekends are not part of the exchange.

Look at your calendar and decide which day works best for you. When I started with my group, Monday afternoons were a little less hectic for me. So that is the night I wanted to cook and deliver my dinner. After a year or so my schedule changed, like life really does, and I had to switch to another night Weekends were off limits because of all the variables involved, date night, going to visit Grandma, etc.

As for delivery times, we usually tried to deliver our dinners between 5:30-6:00 because that is what worked for us. But don’t get hung up on this. If you have to deliver your dinner extra early one day, just refrigerate those things that need be and give heating instructions for the rest.

You’ll need access to your neighbor’s house so you can leave their dinner in their house. Don’t trust leaving a nice smelling roast beef on the porch. Benji the dog might eat it before they get home.

Weekdays are ideal for exchanging because of the routines they follow. But weekends are unique with date nights, family activities, etc.

3. Be aware of likes & dislikes, allergies, or diet restrictions when planning meals.

Again, don’t get hung up on this. You might not always be able to please everyone. For example: Most kids don’t like onions, peppers, mushrooms so if recipes call for them cut them extra small. But I probably wouldn’t expect them to eat a plate full of large mushrooms. It is good for your children to be exposed to all foods. Don’t cater to your children’s likes and dislikes. This is a disservice to them in the future.

Your children should be excited to see dinner brought into their house. Make it fun and exciting. You’ll all enjoy having less dishes to wash afterwards.

Be aware of any allergies. If someone is allergic to something, take peanuts for example, you’ll need to plan accordingly.

Sometimes you might decide as a group to eliminate or restrict some food ideas. For example, you might not need to bring a dessert with each meal during the Christmas holidays because we are bombarded with sweets already.

4. When it is your turn to cook, try to plan meals with foods that compliment each other. A well-balanced meal looks and tastes the best. ( ie; a main course, soup/salad or fresh produce, bread or roll, vegetable, and dessert (optional)).

Use common sense in creating a meal with foods that compliment each other. Soup and salad/Hamburgers & chips/Taco’s w/Spanish rice. Add colorful food to make your dinner look yummy. Sometimes the more colorful the meal is the more healthy it is.

5. After making the dinners, divide food into three separate family portions. You don’t need to buy any extra or expensive dishes to deliver your meals. Use what containers you might already have.

This is my favorite reason for the dinner exchange. Food is not wasted. With 3 families this is how I successfully cooked and divided the portions.

*Doubling the main dish will usually feel 3 families. For Example, many recipes will make a 9×13′ pan. If you double this, and then divide it three ways, it makes an 8×8″ pan for each family. That is usually very adequate.

Salads, deserts, breads, & veggies usually divide into threes very easily.

There are many things you can use to deliver meals: an assortment of paper products, Ziploc baggies, plastic-ware, recycled cool whip, or sour cream containers, Styrofoam containers, etc. The less expensive the better because it can be thrown away and is less clean up for the other person.

6. The easiest way to deliver a dinner is to put a complete meal into a box or structure that you can carry from your home, into the car, and into your neighbors house. Leave the meal on the kitchen counter, a warming drawer, or in the refrigerator if necessary.

Sometimes it can be tricky to try to deliver a meal. A dish might be extremely hot, or another might possibly leak. If you can carry your meal in one big container or tray it helps. That way you won’t have any spills in your car also.

Get in and get out fast. Everyone appreciates just a quick drop off at this time of day.

7. Be flexible and have fun! Take into consideration holidays, sick days, vacations, etc. Don’t feel the pressure to cook a perfect meal every time, or for others to be perfect also.

Be willing to trade days, take a week off when necessary, eat something that is not your favorite. If you want, be creative when planning your meals. Theme meals or holiday meals are great for children (like a green St. Patrick’s Day meal) We are all in this together and are trying to help each other.

Dinner Menu

-Tomato and Wild Rice Soup $15.73

-Green Salad 5.24

-Bread Sticks 5.42

-Pineapple upside-down cake 2.89

Total cost $29.28

Divided by 3

Individual Total $9.76

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