Do you ever feel that by the time you finally get to sit down to enjoy the dinner that you’ve cooked, the food’s gone cold? At a New Year’s party this year, a mom shared with me that she had achieved her sole resolution for 2010 — to eat her dinner while it was still hot. How did she do it? By serving her meals “family style”, rather than “plating” everyone’s food for them. I’ve always done this and frankly had never even considered the alternative. However, in asking around, I’ve learned that many parents serve everyone in the family before themselves.
While it’s a natural instinct to try to make sure there’s enough food for everyone else before serving ourselves, and to make sure our children’s plates are balanced, I think the benefits of family style meals, where we bring the food to the table and everyone helps themselves, may outweigh those concerns. Here are some advantages of family-style meals:
- Family members can learn to pay closer attention to their own hunger cues by serving themselves as little or as much as they would like.
- Less food is likely wasted (see above).
- Children learn independence by serving themselves.
- Children learn consideration by passing the food and making sure to leave enough food in the dish for other family members.
- And finally, family style meals mean less upfront work for mom or dad, so we get to eat while the food’s still hot!
Now I’m not saying that I don’t have to occasionally remind my kids to serve themselves some broccoli alongside that spaghetti. But it sure does make my life a little bit easier not to have to do one more thing at dinnertime. Tell me what you think about family-style meals. Do they work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And if you need help with planning your family meals, sign up for a two-week free trial of The Scramble.