The table is the great equalizer. Eating is one of the most basic parts of the human experience. It is also one of the most unifying A lot of our best memories are connected to food. Meals break down barriers and make space for relationship.
If you want to love your neighbors and be hospitable toward them meals are the easiest place to start. We like to share meals with our neighbors in the courtyard of our apartment complex and also in our home. There is tremendous value in both.
In a community setting there are four options for shared meals: you cooking the entire meal, a potluck, sharing parts of the menu with a few others, or a progressive dinner. A (themed) potluck or a few people pitching in has worked best for our neighbors. Here are a few menu ideas that have worked well in our neighborhood or we are planning for the months ahead:
- Hamburgers and Hotdogs
- Potato Salad
- Baked Beans
When we did this on the Fourth of July, we only ended up only purchasing hotdogs because our neighbors contributed so much. The sides and dessert can be purchased. If you're on a budget just serve hotdogs and the sides and dessert can be made at home very affordably.
- Chocolate Pie
- Iced Tea
This works really well when eveyone contributes a different part of the meal.
- Warm Potato Salad
- Apple Cake
- Craft beer
Our community is doing this on the 24th of this month. One neighbor is providing the brats and sauerkraut, one the potato salad, and we'll provide the dessert along with a non-alcoholic beverage choice. Everyone will bring a craft beer to share.
Budget Friendly Chili Night
- Chili & Toppings
- Pumpkin Pie or S'mores
I use this chili recipe every year. It uses dried beans so it's affordable and you can make it in the Crock Pot. I always use ground beef or turkey to cut costs. If you have a grill or fire pit s'mores are a fun activity to do with the neighbors.
- Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin
- Mashed Potatoes
- Green Beans or Asparagus
- Chocolate Lava Cakes a la Mode
This menu is easier then it looks because of the Crock Pot but your neighbors will think you slaved away all day in the kitchen. Watch for the pork to go on sale (we just bought some for 1.49/lb.) Plus the batter for the cakes can be made ahead.
What meals do you like to share with your neighbors? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Neighboring series.