Growing up, we always had meals at the table. Breakfast was a sit down affair (mostly all five of us) & dinner was a non-negotiable: home cooked meal, all together, no TV, just eating & talking. Even to this day, we have many happy conversations & make happy memories around my parents’ kitchen table.
And if we all happen to be ‘home’, my mom cooks up a storm & always tries to cook dishes that everyone will enjoy.
Maybe creating memories & bonding over meals it is a South African thing? Or an Afrikaans-thing? Or is it simply a magical old-school ritual & not often regarded as important?
This phrase (via The Washington Post) explains it so well:
What’s so magical about mealtime? In most industrialized countries, families don’t farm together, play musical instruments or stitch quilts on the porch. So dinner is the most reliable way for families to connect & find out what’s going on with each other.
I have to (sheepishly) admit that we haven’t been the best at this with our little Oli, but we’re getting our ducks in a row again & sit together at the table at least once a day now.
Eating is amazing. And lucky for me I enjoy both eating, cooking & having meals with or for loved ones. I’ve rounded up some ideas for you on how to have more regular meals with friends, family, colleagues… anyone really:
- Make it a daily family ritual. Scientists have even proved why eating together as a family is a great idea.
- Have a cooking contest. Last year, we were invited to be part of a casual cooking contest (in the ‘Come Dine With Me’ format). There were rules, themes, serious cooking & scoring. But mostly it was just fun hanging out with friends & having delicious home-cooked food.
- Have a set meal on a specific week-night with neighbours or friends. Before we were parents we had an arrangement called Dinner Dinsdag. It basically entailed that five of us had a rotating home dinner each Tuesday. The person on duty could decide what he / she wanted to serve: a healthy cooked meal, ordered-in pizzas or soup & bread. Then I also really love the following; here’s an extract, but the entire post is certainly worth a read (Friday Night Meatballs: How to Change Your Life With Pasta).
So here’s what Joe and I have decided to do, in my 33rd year, to make our lives happier: we are instituting a new tradition we call Friday Night Meatballs. Starting next Friday, we’re cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who’d like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who’d like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: you are welcome at our table. We’ll just ask folks to let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make. You can bring something, but you don’t have to. Kids, vegetarians, gluten-free types, etc. will all be taken care of. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. There might be good Scotch. You might be asked to read picture books. You might make new friends. We’ll just have to find out. This is our little attempt to spend more time with our village. You’re invited.
- A dinner club. Do this in any format that suits you – during our time in George, I was part of a Dinner Club group consisting of 10 ladies. Essentially we went out to a restaurant once a month. Great for getting out of the house a bit, forgetting about kiddies & just giggling with gals!
- Or try The Crappy Dinner Party & see your friends more often. (Not sure if this will work for me, but you might like it?)
- I also love the idea of having an office lunch culture or ritual. At my very first job, we had a big kitchen (with a table). The company supplied basic healthy food, which meant that every lunch time everyone gathered in the kitchen & around the table over a salad or sandwich. I only worked there for a year, but still remember how many interesting (non work-related) conversations we had.
- Why not get a group together for a meal? Your fellow students, a Bible study or your exercise buddies? Because groups that eat together perform better together.
Too busy? Then check out these tips (see video) for families with crazy schedules.
I hope this post sparked some ideas & will inspire you to have more lunches & dinners with others. Happy eating!