Back to Basics: Dinner at the Table
July 28 2022
In our hyper-digital world, it appears that the age-old tradition of gathering around the dinner table to share a homemade meal together has become a largely forgotten practice. Picking up something to eat for dinner and scarfing it down in the car while in route to the next destination has become commonplace. Eating a frozen dinner on the couch while watching a TV show or movie, or even while engrossed in a smart phone or tablet is also a popular in-home dining experience. And with so many restaurants to choose from, it easy to give way to convenience and let someone else do the cooking for us. While these venues may offer a space for quality family time, eating out frequently can become expensive and unhealthy.
What seems to be less popular in our current culture is sitting around the dinner table at home to enjoy a homemade meal and having lively conversation. For thousands of years, we have thrived off of this special time, when we break bread together and share our thoughts, hopes, dreams, woes and anything else that comes to mind. It’s a special moment in the day when the hustle and bustle of life takes a pause and true togetherness takes place. And what better way to do that than over food? Many of us have memories of our moms or grandmas lovingly preparing a delicious meal for us, often one we requested or one they knew we would love. Can you smell that pot roast with carrots and potatoes? When someone we love does something kind for us, it warms our heart, doesn’t it? It also warms the giver’s heart because to give is to receive.
Cooking = Therapy
For the person preparing the food, cooking dinner for those you love can be rewarding and therapeutic. And it can be as complicated or as simple as you like. Cooking can be a fantastic way to be creative, enjoy the fruits of your labor, share your creation with others for their enjoyment, and provide an opportunity to escape the demands of the day to zero in on a specific activity. Creating something with your hands, such as cooking, for a tangible output has far reaching benefits that we are missing in our modern culture of computers and smart devices. You can even get your kids or your significant other involved in the cooking experience. Sharing in the preparation of food can be an excellent way to bond, make memories and learn together.
Save Money and Improve Health
Plus, cooking at home is generally healthier and more cost effective than eating out, especially when cooking for a family. On average, a meal at a restaurant can cost $15 per person, plus the cost of drinks, appetizers and desserts. For a family of four, the tab for dinner at a restaurant easily racks up to $100. And that’s just one meal! Portion control is much easier to practice at home too, especially when portions given at restaurants are usually far too large. When grocery shopping with a weekly meal plan in mind and a predetermined grocery list ready, the savings over eating out is staggering. And when cooking at home, you are able to control what goes into the food you prepare, such as excess salt, butter, oil and sugar. In addition, using lots of fresh ingredients keeps meals healthier, more cost effective and tastier. When grocery shopping, stick with the outer perimeter of the aisles as much as possible, which almost always includes the produce section, meat department and dairy section.
Togetherness is Key
The days turn into months, and the months turn into years. Carving out quality family time with those you love over a homemade meal will have far reaching benefits that you will notice in real time and in the long term. If you’re not in the practice of cooking, that’s okay. With a little practice and an open mind, it will get easier and become more enjoyable than you imagined possible. Ask your family what they’d like for you to cook and if they give you unhealthy meal ideas, there are healthy alternatives to just about every recipe out there! Dinner conversations can easily start with a simple question like “how was your day?” or “what was your favorite or most meaningful part of your day?” It doesn’t have to be perfect and there may be a few stumbles but keep at it. With your heart as your guide and a willingness to try, you just might be surprised at the results.
By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News
|Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.