Unconventional family meals…what it means to me.
We are a family of five. Both my husband and I work outside the home. Our two eldest children are ages 20 and 18. Our baby just turned 16.
As I remember growing up, even in our late teens and early twenties, we ate at home 90% of the time. On Friday and Saturday nights, we were usually gone to games, out with friends, or working, but the majority of weeknights, we were all home for supper. My mom cooked a big meal after coming home from a full day of work. My dad and I would help; my brothers were worthless. We would cook, eat and put the dishes in a portable dishwasher that plugged into the kitchen sink facet….now there’s a memory. Then we would watch TV ‘til bed-time.
I am finding out that reality today is far different. My kids are home in shifts, if at all. Their weekend often starts on Thursday and ends late Monday night. I don’t remember the weekend being that long. Even with three kids at home, we are experiencing the semi-empty nesting life-style. Often I will start a dinner and then find out that none of the kids will be home. So, on many evenings, my hubby and I find ourselves again scarfing down food in front of the TV out of bowls.
I hear about empty nesters standing over the sink to eat…I don’t want that lovely image entering into my future! I love to cook and prepare meals for my husband, but I do not want it to become a chore. So, with my kids coming and going, the question is, “How do I keep a focus on eating together, no matter who is home?”
I have conquered this by going ahead and cooking a home-style meal, and setting the table for whoever will be home, even if it is just my husband and me. I prepare by clearing off the table, which has slowly transformed into a landing spot for everything but place settings. I set the table with real dishes and silverware. The food that I have prepared is placed in serving dishes–not the pans they were cooked in, unless that is their purpose (such as my enameled bakeware). We sit, say grace, eat, visit and then do the dishes together. Sometimes when I know it will be just the two of us, I make something special for us. I really enjoy that.
No matter who is or is not at home, no matter how many of my family is eating: Where two or more are gathered, any dinner is family dinner. I want us to age gracefully and always value sharing a meal together. To carry on the legacy, I also look forward to modeling family meals to future grandchildren.
Steak Dinner For Two
Perfectly grilled steaks, baked potatoes, grilled Caesar romaine salad
And no pots or pans!
Rachael Warrington is a Food Service Manager at a school in Kansas and the mother of three. Her blog is Headcook and BottleWasher.