8 creative ways moms and dads can save time and money all year round by coordinating with other families, from organizing clothing swaps and meal swaps to sharing childcare.
Organize Potlucks and Dinner Swaps
Dine with another family once a week. Take turns hosting, and pool resources (you make an entrée, for example, and they contribute a salad). You get a break from preparing a full meal, and eating with pals gives kids incentive to wrap up homework early. Weekend dinner clubs, in which friends trade off preparing a weekly or monthly meal (kids optional), build social time without the cost of going out. For larger-scale get-togethers, the free tool at perfectpotluck.com creates sign-up sheets, suggests recipes and sends reminders, too.
Reality Checker Approved: "When my kids were younger, I participated in a "freezer club" with three other moms. For six weeks or so, we'd fill our freezers with dinners, then trade: Each of us would bring three meals to share, separated into containers for each person, and go home with nine dishes. That gave me options on days when cooking seemed impossible, and my family discovered some amazing new dishes."—Shala Smith, 34, College Station, Texas