Remember Sunday dinner–gathering with loved ones or friends to share a delicious, home-cooked meal that was savored slowly?
Can you hear the conversations–the puns your grandpa would make, the chatter of aunts and grandmas, the antics of your favorite uncle? How about the smells of real, homemade food–grandma’s fresh bread, homemade apple pie, the family recipe for roasted chicken that had been passed down for generations?
What happened to this tradition? Too often we eat rushed, ready-to-eat meals with little or no connection and conversation. Of course, we still gather for holidays and major events. Pardon me while I wax nostalgic, but I miss those simple, regular gatherings of yesteryear.
Look for links to resources on why family dinners are so important, links to great recipes, and my first freebie–printable recipe cards!
We Live in a Fast-Food Society
I don’t just mean McDonald’s and Burger King. American grocery stores are filled with meals in a bag, frozen pizza, and boxed Hamburger Helper. We stock our kitchens with ready-made meals, microwaves, InstantPots, you name it. Modern social media feeds are filled with headlines like “10 Quick Weeknight Meals,” “Dump and Go Meal Dinners for Busy Moms,” and “8 Freezer Meals for When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking.”
The unpleasant connotations of a “dump and go” anything aside, I have nothing against these conveniences. In fact, just this last week I made both Hamburger Helper and Frozen Pizza. I use my microwave daily and my InstantPot almost daily.
The reality is that most of us live incredibly busy lives. We juggle jobs, school, kids’ activities, chores and relationships. Many families don’t even have time to sit down at the table for dinner together on a regular basis. I get it, we are all busy. Some of us don’t love to cook. Some of us may not even believe we can cook. I believe we can. We can make time–at least once a week–to do dinner the way grandma used to.
The Family that Eats Together . . .
Sunday dinner (or the equivalent) is a valuable pillar of family well-being. Studies show that families who eat dinner are healthier, happier, and better off than families who don’t. Children who eat dinner with their families (with the TV off) are less likely to be overweight and engage in risky behavior. They are more likely perform well academically and have positive relationships with their parents. Don’t just take my word for it, read these articles discussing the importance of regular family meals:
- The Scramble: Family Dinner Statistics
- Goodnet: 9 Scientifically Proven Reasons to East Dinner as a Family
- American College of Pediatrics: The Benefits of the Family Table
- Advantages and Health Benefits of Homemade Food
Learning to Love Cooking
Cooking is an activity I truly enjoy. That certainly wasn’t always the case, however. Sure, I could make a few basic meals, but it wasn’t until after I got married and started cooking meals for my husband (and eventually children) that I really started to enjoy it. I have come to view cooking as a truly nourishing activity. Done right, it nourishes not only the body but the spirit as well. Why do you think they call it comfort food?!
I received a recipe box as a wedding gift, and I just love it. In our modern day it seems that everything is digital, not least of all, recipes! I use my phone virtually every time I cook, but there is something really satisfying about cooking from an actual recipe card.
In my recipe box I have a variety of recipes: my great-grandma’s recipe for Serbian Sarmas, my mom’s potato salad recipe, my Ethiopian neighbor’s recipe for Ethiopian pasties, a recipe for a friend’s amazing egg-bake, as well as many favorites that I have copied down over the years. Every time I pull out a recipe card, I remember the people and events that have made the meals special. I see literal memories as well–my aunt’s handwriting, a splotch of sauce, a smudge or frosting.
If you don’t already have a recipe box, I highly recommend one. There are some really cute ones on Amazon! Check these out!
Finding the Right Recipes for Your Sunday Dinner
Everyone cooks a little differently. Having your own cooking style is part of the fun! It doesn’t matter if you want to cook gluten-free, vegan, ethnic, traditional, sophisticated, or southern soul–there is a food blog, website, or cookbook for you! For me, its all about flavor. I love to experiment with different seasonings and ingredients to find flavors that pop. Often I start with a recipe I find online and modify and tweak it to make it my own. Don’t be afraid to experiment with food, flavors, ingredients, and recipes until you find the right balance for you and your family.
Let’s bring back Sunday Dinner! Let’s bring back good food, wholesome cooking, and family conversations. I want my kids to look back on their childhoods and have the same great memories that I have of those simple, delicious meals gathered in the warmth of family and friends.