Do you Mealku? Potluck craze sweeps home kitchens

Feb. 28, 2013 at 10:53 AM ET

Video: In the mood for a home cooked meal but don’t have time to make it? There’s a new food-sharing service that just might please your palate. NBC’s Erica Hill reports on Mealku, based on the philosophy of sharing more, wasting less, and getting to know your neighbors.

Finally there is a solution to the riddle of wanting a delicious home-cooked meal made with love and care without the inconvenience of having to prepare it in your home or with your own love and care.

Mealku is a mixture of an idyllic Norman Rockwell, multi-family backyard potluck, takeout delivery service, and credit rewards program. The end result is a food-sharing community aimed at increasing access to nutritious meal options and reducing food waste.

“Mealku is the real food network, where folks who are cooking and preparing food for themselves can share it with others,” Ted D'Cruz-Young, founder and CEO of Mealku, told TODAY.

Warm up your winter with fasolada, a Greek bean soup

The Mealku model essentially works like this: "HomeCooks" post their meals on the site along with their recipe under a category like basic fare or comfort food. The meals are then available to be ordered by members. Members can either pay for delivery or pick up the homemade creations at a Mealku community hub. Everything is paid with “Ku” points that are earned through the monthly membership fee and being active in the community by submitting reviews, thanking cooks, and earning referrals.

Before you start cultivating mom’s meatloaf for the masses, you must be vetted by Mealku's "WelcomeCooks," and your kitchen is inspected for cleanliness and food safety. It is also important that you are joining the cooperative for “pure” reasons. As the site states, “No lazy, crazy or selfish people are allowed.”

Mealku has grown to 1,500 members since its launch in July and is currently operating from South Carolina to northern California.

Jamie Oliver’s “The Food Revolution Team“ wrote, “We think Mealku and their support of home cooks is truly revolutionary. We look forward to seeing the cooperative grow and supporting each other in standing up for real food and better food education!”

Mealku has also caught the attention of other publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The cooperative is looking to expand. Schools, apartment buildings, dorms and other places are all potential future sites where local Iron Chefs can make the leap from cooking the ever-depressing single portion to making meals for like-minded strangers.

“I love that idea when your own cup is full, whatever else spills out, share it with others,” Mealku member Carol Savvas told TODAY. “That's the philosophy of Mealku: wasting less and sharing more.”

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