The Family Meal Has Been Hijacked

Mac 'n Cheese with tomato slices before it goes into the oven. Trust me it beats Kraft.

Mac ‘n Cheese with tomato slices before it goes into the oven. Trust me it beats Kraft…oh,there’s bacon on top too.

 

 

 

 

Cooking is fun. It must be. Millions watch cooking shows with regularity. In fact more watch cooking shows than actually cook.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.

Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.

 

 

One of the things I loved about my childhood was sitting down at the dinner table which we did every night. I particularly loved the holiday table at my grandmother’s house. It was so comfy, Uncle John told the funniest stories, and the food was great. There’s really nothing quite as good as the aromas coming out of a kitchen when a home cooked meal is being prepared. When you’ve eaten a good home cook’s Sunday friend chicken with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, Kentucky Fried Chicken just doesn’t cut it.

 

I recently read that in 1900 the average American family ate only 2% of meals out of the home. By 2010 Americans ate 50% of their meals out of the home. When they were home eating “together” it was quite usual for each family member to microwave their own frozen meal. If they actually sat down at the table together with their individual nuked food, it would be for less than 20 minutes.

 

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I cook. I love to stand in front of the stove and stir what I’ve got simmering in a pot. I love to open the oven to check on my baked chicken and revel in the garlic and onion aromas wafting over my kitchen and into the rest of the house. That’s wonderful and pleasurable to me. Sitting down at a set table and eating a well prepared, home cooked meal is pretty close to heavenly. It warms the cockles of my heart hearing: “I’ll have another helping of sweet potatoes” or “Wow, these carrots are good, can I have more?” or “pass the grated cheese.”

 

I could tell you studies show that kids who regularly sit down to a meal with their families are more well-adjusted than kids who don’t. I could point to research suggesting children who eat at home with their families have better grades and get into less trouble. I could ask you if you knew eating meals at home protects girls from anorexia and bulimia. But what I really want to tell you is how much fun it is to eat together. How great it is to cook together in the kitchen, and carry the platters out to the table.

 

Watching cooking on TV is fun. I do it all the time. But cooking at your own stove is more fun. Trust me. Shopping at the supermarket should be a wonderful sensory experience. There are red, round, ripe tomatoes waiting to be sliced and added to a sandwich. Yum. Anyone can do that. There’s a package of chop meat that would make a few hamburgers to share with family and friends and they won’t taste like the cardboard burgers you get at a fast food place. Put it on a good roll you got in the bakery section and plop one of those fresh cut tomato slices on it. Then eat! Eat! Enjoy the people at the table eating with you. After all, community starts at the dinner table.

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About NikeChillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards. View all posts by NikeChillemi

14 responses to “The Family Meal Has Been Hijacked

  • Ruth ONeil

    I LOVE cooking, and eating, and feeding people who like to eat my food. It makes me happy when they take more. We don’t eat out much. Some of my favorite times are when we sit at the table for a couple hours just talking. People don’t know what they’re missing by not eating at home.

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    • NikeChillemi

      Ruth, I love sitting at the table over coffee at the end of the meal just to talk. Nothing better. I know people have to sometimes eat on the run due to jobs. What I can’t understand is when the family is home and they all microwave their own prefab dinner and eat in their rooms in front of their own TVs, computer, or video game.

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  • blueribbonfair

    I love to cook, but I hate dishes and cleanup even more.I do cook on special days one or 2 times a month.I used to do family dinners when my my kids were young though. I got burned out on it I think with the messes and having to work when they got to be teenagers. They were gone so much also, so it was eat when your there, and sometimes they were not on certain days,

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    • NikeChillemi

      Blue, We had a rule in my house growing up and I tried to carry it over to my own home…the one who cooks doesn’t do dishes. Good rule. It’s hard to cook and have a full time job. I guess I’m lamenting that kids run out of the house at dinner time. They grab something premade and run to be with their friends.

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      • blueribbonfair

        I had rules like that when growing up also. It was after I got married and my husband would not back me up and verbally thrashed me when I tried to teach my kids what I thought was right. Now he moans and groans about some of the ways they are. Reap what you sow.
        Thanks Nike. Always enjoy your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      • NikeChillemi

        Blue, I was able to maintain that rule. The one who cooks doesn’t clear the table. But other rules and traditions that form good habits I was not able to keep. My children insisted nobody else did them and my husband agreed. I think the girls were worse off for not having good habits stressed and rules to back that up. But I was out voted. You’re not alone. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • Carol Mcclain

    Sarah and I always ate together–at the table. Weekday mornings we had devotions–Sat & Sun we ate on our own due to sleeping patterns. Every evening we ate together.

    It was the pattern my family had–but I grew up in the 50s and 60s. Neil and I still eat together. We need to get back to real cooking and real family time.

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    • NikeChillemi

      Carol, The best times in my family with my parents was around the table. Grandma’s table was the best ever. As you know, my family patterns have been disrupted. Once I relocate to Fla, I hope to establish a cooking routine.

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  • Lyn

    Cooking escapes me. That is to say, I like my cooking, but nobody else in my family will eat it. I like food I can pronounce. My daughter and her kids like food from boxes: Rice-a-roni, “potatoes au gratin,” and so forth. They honestly don’t LIKE homemade food.

    On the upside, I love cleaning up! It makes me feel so good to turn chaos into shining cleanliness.

    Oh–we do get all our beef from my brother’s farm. No hormones, no weird diseases, no over-fat, and the animals are not mistreated. All good.

    I always enjoy your posts, though I’m often not able to comment. Your real life friends are quite lucky!

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    • NikeChillemi

      Lyn, You’re not alone as a mom. Kids these days do like the fake food that comes in boxes and they’re very picky about what they eat and they don’t eat well or healthy. My mom was a pretty good cook and there were a few dishes she made exceedingly well. My brother and I liked her food, maybe because we were used to it. There were things she made we didn’t like and my dad would say we had to develop our taste buds. As a foodie looking back, my mom did a decent job in the kitchen, real decent. And my brother and my taste buds did develop.

      I envy you your beef. And I’ll bet your real life friends are lucky too. 🙂

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  • dltolley

    Loved this! And what a tragedy it is that families are missing out on this. Mealtimes are our favourite times. We visit together for hours afterwards. They are our favourite times of the day.

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  • Rena McDaniel-Alz Caregiver

    We only eat out once a week at my house. I cook the other 6.

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