I'm going to be totally honest. This is the third time I've sat down to write this post. And I mean the third time in 2 years. After a crazy June, several extended road trips and the ensuing feelings of "blech" that come from eating out all of the time, I have finally decided it is time for some serious changes in our eating habits around the old farmstead.
First I want to say that even though I can cook and have access to a fabulous selection of quality products, it is still so tempting to take the easy route and give in to take-out. Even Liddy will say, "Hello food, mom?" That means "call in for Chinese" in her language. I either give in or my stubborn side kicks in and then I stand in the kitchen for 20 minutes regretting my life choices and my stupid stubbornness. Followed by serving cereal or cheese and crackers for dinner. It's called charcuterie now, right?
So I often find myself thinking about my friends who aren't cooks by nature. Those that don't have freezers full of meat at their disposal. And I honestly don't know how y'all pull it off. Except for you probably have DoorDash, so that might help? I'm kind of glad we don't have access to that out here. Pretty sure we would be on a first-name basis with our Dasher if we did.
I've been reading some interesting books lately and they have inspired me, along with a general need for change, to see the importance of real food. While Mark Twain and the French have very different eating styles, some of the basic tenets remain the same. Whole, real food. Variety of food. Quality matters. Taking time to eat together. These ideas float throughout the two books and have made me rethink what and how we eat.
The first goal we have been trying to work towards is eating at the table together more often. I have actually loved this and have seen some cool changes since we've tried it. Meal prep has been more of a family affair, when appropriate, and we've had some good laughs getting everyone involved. We've learned that Liddy is more of a food snitcher when unsupervised and that while Jack knows a lot about cooking, he has never made some basic dishes. We made lasagna as a family the other day and Chad and Jack both said they never knew how one was made. Liddy just ate cheese.
The other nifty part has been teaching Liddy how to set the table. It involves counting and following directions, which are both skills she needs to practice. She has even started initiating setting the table on her own. No more tears now when she's told we're eating at the table. I even caught her using a fork instead of her fingers to eat! We still do movie/pizza nights, but overall we are making a conscious effort to eat at the table more.
The other part about eating at the table that I have enjoyed, other than just the fun conversations without cell phones, is that we all pitch in for clean up. We all take care of our own dishes, Liddy puts napkins in the laundry, Jack clears the table the rest of the way and Chad and I take care of the rest. All of the "togetherness" makes the kitchen a less lonely place for me and I feel like we're developing some good life skills along the way. And in general, the effort I put into a meal feels much better invested when we all sit together to enjoy it. It's more than just food, it's a common experience, a memory made.
As a kid we NEVER ate a meal in the living room. And I mean never. Like I didn't even know it was a thing. One time when I was in high school my brother and I were home alone on a Sunday afternoon. I remember him sneakily saying, "Let's eat our lunch in the living room and watch a football game!" I was appalled at the very thought and stated in a very pious tone (I can still hear myself saying it to this day), "I will NEVER eat in the living room and watch a sporting event! Ever!" One of those funny twists of fate, I guess. Some thirty years later and I'm having to make my family eat at the table. (It's ok if you did the math to see how old I am.)
If you are feeling like your crew needs a change in the eating department, join our family as we take some small steps to hopefully revamp the way we eat. Try this for a week and see how it goes for you! I'd love to hear from you on what you notice. Next time, we'll talk about how to plan ahead in a way that isn't terrifying. Because meal planning can be like that....