I’ll never forget coming into my mother-jn-law’s kitchen while we were visiting from another state. We’d been out all day long as a family, touring and seeing the sights in the Atlanta area and we were coming in right at suppertime. In short, we were all hungry.
We walked into the kitchen and it was dark. Nothing roasting in the oven. No aromas wafting in to greet our hungry stomachs. No heat from a crock pot or simmering pan. Cold. Dark. Hungry – the kitchen and our stomachs.
I’m not hating on her – she did NOT like to cook, so it was a real effort to do anything in the kitchen. However, those visits taught me the importance of being sure that I had something prepared ahead to feed my family. It reminded me that even the appearance that things were on the way to presenting itself on the table can encourage a hungry soul.
If you struggle with suppertime because of your lifestyle – be it work schedules, being a single mom, or having such a hectic life that you find it almost impossible to sit down together as a family, I’m writing this post to encourage YOU! There really are things you can do to provide time as a family at least some of the week. Ready for a few suggestions?
- If your schedule takes you away at suppertime, but you’re with your family at breakfast or lunch, make that your time to share a meal and make it special! There’s nothing sacred about the 6:00 dinner hour. If you’re only able to eat breakfast, then put forth the effort to set the table the night before, prep some muffins and get the bacon ready (maybe even cook it ahead of time), and scramble the eggs just before the meal, so you can sit down and share an unhurried breakfast together.
- If you’re unable to be with your family at suppertime, provide food so that everyone won’t be scrambling to find something to eat. The very gesture of providing for your family will be a sweet memory and a blessing to their daily lives.
- Cook chicken breasts in the crock pot so it’s ready for tacos, salad, enchiladas, quesadillas or wraps.
- Have canned soups in the pantry as well as breads, crackers, fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Bake up cookies and muffins on the weekend and put them in the freezer so they can be thawed a couple at a time and still be fresh.
- Have salad makings ready in the fridge- maybe even already in a bowl.
- Provide cheeses to make a grilled cheese sandwich or to top crackers.
- Make a list of suggestions for the meal you will miss and tell your family where to find the food.
- On the weekend or your day off, make the most of the main meal on that day! Do it up big! Rather than lamenting over your time away, make the most of the time you do have. Linger at the table after the meal is over so you can chat and spend time together. Be sure to include time in God’s Word and prayer. You might clear off the dishes and play a game together afterwards.
- Work ahead. Set the table. Cut up vegetables. Marinate meat. Start the crock pot. All these things will encourage your family when they see them, because they’ll know something is “in the works!”
- If you’re a single mom, invite families with a strong male figure that can be a godly influence on your children (especially if you have boys!). Your pastor, youth pastor, their Sunday school teacher, a visiting missionary, a family in your church who would be a male role model are all people that you should invite to join you and your children at your table. No one expects a gourmet meal – make what you can afford. A pot of beans and corn bread, spaghetti, chili or a baked potato bar would all be perfect and they won’t break the bank!
These ideas are very simplistic, but they prove that a meal together as a family really can happen! If you’re in a tough situation with meals, pray and ask the Lord to help you be creative so you can bless your family when it comes to mealtimes together.