heart of the home.
Food & fellowship- two things I hold dear to my heart. Growing up on a produce farm and working with my hands to tend to the land from a very young age made me appreciate the purpose and value of food. I always say that the heart of the home is the kitchen table. Whether it's a big fancy farmhouse table surrounded with big wooden chairs or a tiny plastic folding table set up in the backyard, gathering around the table as a family is what strengthens the bond between us.
I am thankful that no matter how crazy life got for my parents while raising 5 kids and running a farm, we always ate around the table together. Partially due to not living in town and having many food conveniences, we gathered around the table almost every night. I was taught the necessity of eating what produce was in season, even if it meant eating yellow squash 5 days a week. I used to joke that we were the Charlie version of Forrest Gump. We ate boiled squash, squash casserole, fried squash, stir fry squash with potatoes, steamed squash, squash and beef, baked squash with garlic....you get the idea.
One of my favorite things that brings me such joy is gathering. I love inviting people into our home to sit around our table and enjoy a home cooked meal. This setting becomes rich with fellowship- laughing, learning more about each other, or reminiscing on old times. We have entered a season of life that leaves us with less time to entertain and gather with our friends and family, but we still make it a point to eat as a family around the table.
Here are 4 tips I have to ensure we eat less take out and fast food and still create the time to gather, talk, and enjoy food together around our table.
Look Ahead. On Sunday night we sit together and discuss what is going on in the upcoming week. We know what days we have functions and what nights we might be working late.
Shop With a List. This is so important for me. When I look ahead to know what we are doing in the upcoming days and what our needs are, I make a grocery list for at least a two week period. I haven't made it happen to plan every meal, but I buy bulk meat and staple pantry items so we always have something on hand. When I know my pantry is full, it helps with my decision to not go through the Chick-Fil-A drive thru because I've already spent money on groceries.
Plan for Leftovers. I cook a large main course which allows for leftovers. We eat off one meal for two nights and I cook a fresh side to go with. I try to eat fresh vegetables from my parents farm so we are eating in season- which always taste better. I try to do this twice a week.
Stock Up. On the nights we are busy we plan to eat from the freezer, even if it's frozen corn dogs or a pizza. We have learned that even with limited time, we can still manage to carve out 30 minutes to eat together around the table. We usually eat raw carrots or fruit as our side so we don't have to cook. This usually happens at least once a week.
I know it's not practical to eat around the table 7 days a week. But, if you could plan to eat together 4 days a week to gather and be present with each other, I promise you will see improvement in your quality of life and communication with those nearest to you. I often get so busy during the day that I forget to eat, which leaves me an irritable mess when I get home. I look forward to getting home, cooking, eating and enjoying my family. It's not a chore because I enjoy the way it makes me feel. I also have to say that some nights we eat at 5 o'clock so that we can be together before I have to run out the door for a session.
I also believe eating around the table is teaching our kids to love and appreciate food and the importance of this family time (even if they hate what I cooked).