5 Things I’ve Learned about Mealtime in my Early Twenties

Published by Table for One

As I have lived on my own for almost 4 years I haven’t had much of an opportunity to have mealtime with my loved ones. Here are some things I have learned by spending almost every Sunday night for the past 2 years at my boyfriend’s parent’s house Sunday dinner.

family coloring

1. It isn’t about the food.
Growing up, I cared about the food. What mattered to me was what my mom made for dinner and whether or not I liked it. As long as I was fed, I was a happy teenager. My, how 2 years have changed my perspective. Now that I have lived on my own for a few years and been away from home-cooked meals, I have developed an appreciation for the time spent in preparing a meal for the family to enjoy together. It’s not so much about the food anymore, but about being together. I now look forward to any opportunity I have to share a meal with either my own family or my boyfriend’s… As long as it means I don’t have to eat another plate of Bagel Bites while plopped on my couch watching TV.

Border Collie looking at cupcake
Well, maybe it is all about the food for this pup…

2. Mealtime doesn’t have to be perfect.
Unless you are feeding your future in-laws or the President of the United States, mealtime absolutely does not have to be perfect. If you are a mother who feeds her family 7 days a week with barely a break in between, or a newlywed trying to keep your husband well-fed as you spend your time in the kitchen half preparing the meal and half hunched over your cell phone’s screen to read the last recipe you pinned on Pinterest, please remember that it doesn’t have to be flawless! We all have busy lives and these days making mealtime happen in the first place is hard enough… Dinner can be sandwiches, as long as time is made to come to the table and share a meal together. Just a little effort-that is how the magic happens. (Don’t worry sister; that Pinterest recipe board is only going to get longer…)

picnic with rootbeer
Despite how it looks, and the disappointed expression on his father-in-law’s face, that is definitely root beer.

3. You get to know each other best around the table.
This applies especially for family members who still live in the same home. In objective terms, family meal time could be defined as, “a mutual agreement to bring two or more individuals to a meeting place for an extended period of time to consume sustenance.” When I put it like that, it doesn’t sound like family mealtime. It sounds more like a work meeting, but pay attention to the word “individuals.” Although a family may have certain things in common by default, it is still made up of diverse individuals. Individuals who have their own interests, hobbies, aspirations, friends, and age groups. With most of our time being occupied by school, work, sports, or errands, it is very easy to forget who your family members really are.

This is why mealtime around the table is so important, especially for those families who are still living together. Mealtime is where phones should be put away, TV’s are turned off, and relationships are built – relationships that last a lifetime. This way, when all of the siblings have grown, moved out, and started lives of their own, they will not lose sight of each other… they will not forget who they are.

family picture

4. You feel like family.
Whether you are blood related or not, sitting down and sharing a meal together will provide the opportunity for a family setting to take place. Traditionally, mealtime at home around the table has been more of a family environment. Based on personal experience, I guarantee if you are sharing microwave taquitos with your roommates, breakfast with your children before they leave for school, or visiting your boy/girlfriend’s family for dinner, you will feel the bond similar to what a family shares.

silly family picture

5. Saving time for dessert is a necessity.
Over time I learned this valuable lesson as I attended my boyfriend’s family’s Sunday dinners (after 2 years, you’ll learn a thing or two about it.)

Mealtime isn’t over until dessert has been served. I have noticed time and time again, that when we eat dinner at my boyfriend’s parent’s house, we won’t eat dessert right away. When we are finished eating dinner, we either stay seated around the table engulfed in a hilarious story, or we grab a board game to play. We have even gone out to the family room to play a couple of songs on Rockband until our stomachs have made room for dessert!

The time in between dinner and dessert is just as valuable as time spent around the table eating dinner. Waiting means even more time spent with your family and friends! Enjoy it!

dogs on laps