Why We Eat Together At Home. And The Importance Of It

Eating together at home as a family. It’s important to a lot of us. A tradition. Saying no to having meals together at home, especially dinner, is usually hard.

When I was a kid, my parents insisted my dependent younger brother and I all ate dinner together most nights, which we naturally did. These days it’s a different story. Some days when I finish work, I eat dinner in the city and then make my way home. Later on in the evening when I’m engrossed in touching up photos to share on Instagram in my room, mum or dad usually come in and quietly ask, “Are you eating dinner with us at home tomorrow?”

Eating at home with family, expect more food than you can eat | Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale.

Eating at home with family, expect more food than you can eat | Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale.

Family dinners are still quite the norm in Australia. According to a survey in 2012, 77% of Australian families eat dinner together at home five or six times a week, albeit a proportion of this in front of the TV. There’s certainly something significant about eating with family at the dining table. It’s more than just a habit.

When we eat at home with the family, we catch up with one another, spend time together. We’ll chat, ask each other how our day went and what we’ve got planned tomorrow. After we’ve pulled our chairs in at the start of dinner, my mum likes to ask me, “What did you do today? Did everyone come to work? Did the boss turn up?”

And so when we eat together, we bond with one another. Chatting over regular dinners at home, we learn to get along and speak up more around those closest to us.

Sometimes we eat at home because it’s the logical thing to do. It tends to be a lot cheaper and healthier eating at home than eating out. Eating at home with family, we’re often reminded of better eating habits and table manners too.

Meals outside don’t come cheap in Melbourne. A tasty burger with fries or a flavoursome bowl of stir-fried wanton noodles typically costs $10 or more here – certainly not friendly to the wallet with respect to how much the average Australian like me earns on average per year. So it’s wise for me to eat at home most nights, and to put up with my mum telling me telling me when I’m feeling full halfway through dinner, “Finish all of your rice. And the two slices of carrots in your soup”. Then again, our bodies need well-balanced meals and lots of nutrients to keep going.

Countless dishes are meant to be shared and come in big portions, particularly in Asian cultures. My Chinese-Malaysian mum loves cooking large dishes of sweet and sour pork, stir-fried kai lan and fried rice. It’s also one of the reasons I still join my family at the dinner table when I can. If not, food goes to waste.

A lot of us don’t just eat with family at home. We eat with family outside as well – and some of us will rather eat with that annoying family member than eat alone. After all, dining alone is often shunned and seen as anti-social (but eating solo has its perks too). Eating out with family or even friends, we might take photos of new dishes we’ve tasted and put them on Facebook. Eating together then, is a pride and status affair of sorts.

Depending on the occasion, at times eating with family gets on our nerves. Eating at Asian reunion dinners or big weddings can be boisterous, exhausting events. The last extended family dinner I went to back in Malaysia was exactly that. Relatives shouting to one another across the round table, telling each other what’s happening in their lives. Voices rising as more and more fine red wines were poured. Family heaping foods on my plate despite my protests in broken Cantonese. When the dinner was over, my stomach was uncomfortably bloated and my head throbbed.

Expect a second serving when you eat at home.

Expect a second serving when you eat at home.

In Asian cultures, it’s respectful to wait for everyone to be seated before helping ourselves to food. It’s respectful to wait if someone’s dish that they ordered hasn’t come out of the kitchen yet. So we might have to put up with partially cold food when eating with family. However, each time my plate of food arrives first, my parents and relatives never fail to pester me to dig in. It’s hard to give in because that feels, well, wrong alongside my values.

Dinner with my family at home today is always a quiet affair. Apart from the “How’s your day” and “Finish your food” short conversations, we eat in silence, hearing the clink and clunk of forks, spoons and chopsticks against glass plates. Hearing the TV blaring in the background. I don’t think any of us watch it.

Each time I glance around the table, I see my mum, dad and brother looking down at their plates. Then I’ll look back down at mine, and scrape every single grain of rice into a pile, ready to eat them all. We aren’t close yet we make the effort to come to dinner each week. Presence speaks a thousand words.

Eating together at home, we feel like we’re a part of something: everyone has a seat at the table. We feel wanted, like we have a place to go back to. Eating together, we’re more than just obligated to eat. We’re appreciative.

We’re silently thankful for what we have. Health. Food. Family.

Unconditional love.

Do you like eating with your family or housemates at home?

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132 thoughts on “Why We Eat Together At Home. And The Importance Of It

  1. Our family dinner time is very important for communication and bonding. We don’t have a television anywhere near the dining area nor do we sit in front of TV while eating dinner. Your article sums up our family philosophy but now that our daughters are 24 and 21 they are sometimes out for dinner with their boyfriend, or other friends. The dining table is a a great place for relaxed family communication, and sharing stories and laughter.

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    • That is refreshing to hear that your family doesn’t have a television near the dining table. Interesting, as these days houses and apartments especially are built open-planned, and the dining area is located beside the lounge area, where the TV usually is – so maybe that’s why it’s hard not to watch TV for many families while they are eating at home.

      I suppose with no TV around, you get to talk more with your family over dinner. Laughter? Jokes at the table too. Sounds like your family have very fun dinners together.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a kid we would always ate at 6 pm. Dad would come home from his general practice surgery at 5.55 pm and we’d be eating at 6. The TV would be on in the lounge room loud enough so we could hear the channel 9 news and then at 6.25 we’d be finished and Dad would return to the surgery for his evening session. We kept fairly quiet so Dad could listen to the news. After Dad had left for the evening we would do the washing and wiping up and putting away of dishes.
    Now as an adult, when I’m with family I do like to eat together and it’s great to tell and listen to stories.
    When I’m by myself I eat and watch the news, I still eat at 6 pm the only difference now is that I’m usually thinking how to photograph the food I’ve prepared 😀

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    • Your Dad sounds like a man who is always on time. Never kept you guys waiting back then. Eating bang on 6pm. My parents always put on Channel 9 news in the background too (they don’t like Channel 7 for some reason, I don’t know why). When I was younger, my mum, brother and I would also wait for dad to come home from work and eat at 6pm. Very routine.

      Would love to have a meal with you some day, Gary. You could teach me how to take photos of food, and we probably won’t touch our meals half an hour after they’ve been served 😀

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        • Maybe it’s a generational thing. Til this day, when my parents want to watch TV, it will be either Channel 9 or the ABC, sometimes SBS. MKR! Stereotypical casting but the food is a sight to behold.

          I imagine we will take a long time sussing out which dish looks appealing from the menu 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  3. It is just the two of us at home and we are most always together. I’m recently into more healthy food and I find it costs a lot to buy organic and make tasty dishes every day. It’s also expensive in the Bay Area to go out. Today we did and I had poblano peppers stuffed with quinoa and it came with squash and pi to beans and believe me, it wasn’t huge and it was $18. It seems to cost more for healthy food because they know we want this kind of food. Unhealthy food like fast food is much cheaper and therefore people in the lower income bracket are not as healthy. So sad.

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    • You are so right. Healthy food is very, very expensive. That was certainly a very expensive meal that you had, a meal of veggies. If I guess right, it wasn’t that filling, or you were hungry later. The avocado and bread in my photos cost $14. Sad, yes.

      It is good that you and your husband eat at home quite a bit. I bet apart from the home-cooked food, the two of you enjoy your time together. Hope you are feeling okay, Laura 🙂

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          • True Mabel. I’m really loving my new recipes at home. Instead of chips and candy for snacks, I eat guacamole with veggies or baked sweet potato or dates. Life is so much better without all that refined junk.

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              • Oh interesting! I have a blogging friend there, well a couple of them, and it seems Mexican food isn’t as popular as it is here, especially in California. We have various kinds, the most popular being Tex-Mex and second is New Mexican cuisine. Both do guacamole. I use avocado in my morning veggie shakes too. Can you tell I like avocado? 😉

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                • In Australia there are a few Mexican fast food chains in food courts, but few people usually buy from them. But I like Mexican cuisine, especially tacos. Avocado nice and early for you. You’re an avocado lover, Laura. Most certainly 🙂 I’m sure they are cheaper over at your end.

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  4. My husband and I always enjoy dinner together and we cook at home most of the time as it is healthier plus we know what we are actually eating.

    However, I have one rule when dining at home and even outside – no smartphones at the table. Last week, my husband and I had a ‘date’ night and went to our favorite restaurant. We were seated and I scanned the place. No one was talking and most were using their smartphones. It is very sad to think that checking facebook is more important than the person seated right in front of you.

    My mother-in-law loves having family get togethers and it will be so nice to have everyone together once again for the Chinese New Year holiday next week.

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    • Ah, the no phones rule at the table. Very, very wise and I bet it certainly helped you enjoy your date night. I wonder if all those people in the restaurant remembered what they ate and how their food actually tasted. But the good thing about it as you mentioned was they weren’t talking which made the place quiet – so you and your husband could hear each other 🙂

      Checking your phone at the table while eating with others, it’s as if you don’t want to be there, that you’d rather be someplace else and ignoring the other person. I actually think it’s a bit rude.

      Chinese New Year! Happy get togethers!

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        • Haha, I think you’re right. I see some of my friends post lengthy reviews of the food they ate on Instagram, describing what they ate and if it was good or bad! Checking your smartphone briefly a couple or a few times at the table is okay with me…but if someone starts typing a message on their phone, I go, “Grrr…”

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  5. Whosoever started this tradition of eating together, it is an invaluable asset. Besides family togetherness and the much needed communication within all the members, the cultural and moral values that it inculcates is a remarkable aspect that is often taken for granted.

    With the invasion of modern gadgets especially the smart phones, which are so distracting, the youngsters consider eating together to be more a chore than sitting together for enjoying a meal. I think it is quite challenging for parents to make dinner time a fun meal time as it was once upon a time…when there were no T.Vs, laptops and iPads which seem more attractive than sharing good conversation.

    Thanks Mabel, for highlighting the most important issue of modern times.

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    • “youngsters consider eating together to be more a chore”. You put it so well. By checking Facebook or Instagram at the dinner table at home, it’s a sign you’d rather do something else and be somewhere else.

      Eating a meal doesn’t take long, around thirty minutes. Perhaps part of the reason some young people don’t warm to family dinners is due to the fact that they can’t get along with their parents. But I do think it has a lot to do with being selfish and wanting time for themselves.

      How to make dinner more fun? I don’t know about that one…maybe you’d be able to come up with some ideas.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely post Miss Mabel. 🙂 Growing up, eating dinner as a family seemed to be the norm, not always at the table, often on our laps in front of the TV, and we’d all catch up during the commercials. Sunday dinner was always at the table, I loved Sunday family dinners, it seemed to really bond the family, we’d say thanks for our meals and share the wonderful things that had happened throughout the week.
    These days, it is rare for me to be home at dinner time, so I seem to eat majority of my dinners alone, but when we do catch up, I still love it.

    Thank you for sharing a look into your family, you are so right about eating together, you feel a part of something, you feel wanted. Food really is one of the best things about being alive.

    Happy weekend to you sweet lady. 🙂

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    • Haha, all catch up during the commercials! I suppose back then the commercials weren’t entertaining. Your family certainly bonded over watching TV and eating at the same time, that is impressive.

      Saying thanks at the start of dinner isn’t something my family does. But I’ve been to a few dinners with other families who do say thanks and joined in. Taught me how to slow down and appreciate food as it comes my way.

      As grown up lovely ladies on a mission making a living for ourselves, it IS hard for us to make it to family dinners 😉 But all the more reason to appreciate these occasions.

      Happy weekend to you too, catch up with you soon 😉

      …by the way, I really LOVE being called Miss Mabel!

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  7. Yes!!!! Eating together is a huge thing in our families. We see David’s parents at least once a week for a meal (4 of us get together) and we see Le’s family (all
    up 13 including the kids) about 3 times a week. We are all very incredibly close in Le’s family and we all chatter a lot! Mealtimes are very chaotic and noisy. No TV – just everyone talking different conversations at once 🙂

    And just in our little humble home, when we are both around: breakfast, lunch, dinner are together ALWAYS!

    And when it comes to food – expect both quantity and quality!! Le’s mum just looks cooking and feeding us 😀

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    • You monkeys really are big on eating together! Dinner time for you and your families sound very cosy and warm despite all the chatter and noise. Everyone talking different conversations at once? You must hear many kinds of stories and have many to share 😉

      “our little humble home”. It sounds like a very nice place and now I want to come over! I think the only time we usually eat alone is when we’re snacking.

      Oh, parents ALWAYS want their kids to get a good feed. Better fat than skinny 😀

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  8. same here. growing up, my parents always insisted on us eating together as a family. dinnertime was practically a sacred ritual where we talked about our day (or whatever) while enjoying our meal. i loved those times and i will always be grateful to my folks for making it our little family tradition. i can’t even remember what we ate then (definitely nothing gourmet) but i will always remember the laughter and that warm feeling of being respected for sharing your ideas and opinions (although they sometimes turned into friendly debates too but it was all fun).

    p.s. your pictures are making me drool!

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    • Nothing gourmet. Totally agree with you on home-cooked food. It’s nothing fancy, yet it tastes very, very good. You are so right that opinions are respected at the dinner table. Rarely does a family dinner turn into a shouting match.

      I suppose dinners are a sacred ritual for many of Asian background. Being together is important for us, being together holds the family together.

      Thank you for the compliment on my photos. The toasted bread was actually quite hard. Not worth the $14 at Mr Tulk.

      Liked by 1 person

      • you should try the bruschetta at melissa. it’s topped with avocado, tomatoes, and poached eggs. definitely divine!!!! also, definitely blog-worthy. (should write a blog about it. lol.)

        apparently, they also have several outlets in the city (altona, collingwood, templestowe, and thornbury apart from the one here in dandy) so if you happen to be nearby, you might wanna try the bruschettas. but they only serve it until 11:30am or something though. but i love it! one of my favorite breakfasts of all. and that’s coming from somebody who doesn’t eat breakfast. haha.

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        • I’ve never heard of Melissa, lol. And I call myself a Melburnian…. 😀 Now I really want to try the bruschetta with the avocado and eggs. Not only does it sound blog-worthy, but also a good start to the day.

          Like you, I am not much of a breakfast eater. But when the right dish comes along, I don’t mind waking up for it!

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  9. Usually, eating out is when my mom, brother and I ate together. At home, my step-dad ate with us and my mom ate seperately. She always prefered to make her own food and eat in the kitchen. I remembered when I tried to bring a book to read to the table and getting admonished from my step-dad for it. We were all akward together at the dinner table. But that’s my family and I’m okay with the fact that we were different. I didn’t come from a traditonal lovey-dovey warm family, but my mom is a wonderful cook and we were loved in our own crazy ways.

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    • Awkward at the dinner table? I am so sorry to hear that, Lani :/ But I guess in the end all of you respected each other’s differences and the food brought all of you together. Come to think of it, maybe that is why my family eat dinner in silence too. Or maybe we were all too weary to make small talk after a long day.

      Bringing a book to the table? You really are a bookworm.

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  10. I used to hate dining together with the family because my mom loves to force feed me with food that I hate. Then I left home for work and learnt that eating with family is bliss. I guess that’s how it is, you never appreciate anything until you lost that privilege.

    My mom used to be the typical Malaysian Chinese mom who always overestimated our eating capabilities when cooking, but nowadays she is more into healthy eating and always cook just enough food, which is great.

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    • So sorry to hear that. I didn’t like eating with the family when I was younger too. I think I didn’t like being interrogated by family how my day went, and my dad was a domineering figure at the dining table and dominated conversations.

      Healthy eating is always good. But it doesn’t hurt to have a treat every now and then. Eating out and for a lot who have moved out of the family home, eating treats every day is tempting. Hard to avoid.

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  11. We always eat as a family at the table. Eating in front of the tv is a rare treat we might do once or twice a year. We like to do The Age Superquiz. Sometimes it leads to other conversations in response to a question. Sometimes we just do the quiz and there’s not much other talking. I also have, on my side of the family, a monthly family dinner at my parents’ house with whichever of my siblings is available and their families. They are nights of lots of talking, lots of food and lots of wine. 🙂 My Dad died last year and so things are different but our dinners are just as important now, if not more so.

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    • Ah, The Age Superquiz. I can never finish that, don’t think I have. I suppose it’s a quiz you’ll do over breakfast or lunch…not sure if people do it over dinner. Sounds like your family really enjoys getting together and eating together. Enjoying time together and one another. The little things in life 🙂

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  12. That is the one thing I really think fondly about from my childhood, is the family eating together…it was always the place were we talked, or me fighting with my sisters, and overall just that great feeling of being connected to everyone. I remember so well my dad always having to work late, and begging my mom for a snack before dinner…I do remember we would also have the TV on as background noise except on Mondays, when it was a treat to watch Monday Night Football and talk sports with my dad (and I always got to choose the menu on Monday which was always “Joe’s Special”). Nice to relive these memories with your post…great topic, and really an important one as I don’t think we consider how great having those moments to share. Cheers Ms. Mabel 🙂

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    • I hope your dad did get his snacks, but not enough snacks to spoil his dinner appetite 😉 For some reason I can’t imagine you squabbling with your siblings as a kid, you don’t look the kind who would get into petty arguments. But when kids are at the dinner table, they always find something to pick about: the veggies on their plate, not having enough drinks, playing footsies…

      “That is the one thing I really think fondly about from my childhood…” Now you’ve got me thinking. When I think of my childhood, one of the first things that comes to my mind is family dinners – and they are one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. I even remember the patterns on the roast duck served to me as a kid at home so many years ago.

      Oh ho, I noticed your spelling. So now I am Ms. Mabel 😀

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      • Annoying my sisters (and my sisters annoying me) was all part of the fun/tribulations of growing up with them 🙂 Funny that you also say that dinners hold such vivid memories as I did not realize this either until after reading your post…and then also thought how special (in a very simple way) those dinners are etched in my memory.

        As for my spelling, yes and I am happy you realiZe you are now Ms. Mabel 🙂

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        • Sounds like you got the upperhand sometimes at the dinner table, very fun and cheeky of you. Maybe dinners hold vivid memories because we all need food to live, it’s an important part in the circle of life, and so is being connected with our loved ones.

          One memory at the dinner table that stands out for me is this: my brother and I arguing and he cut my pinky finger with a scissors.

          I have gone by Ms. Mabel for a while, actually – the way I prefer to be addressed in formal contexts 😀

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          • Yes, I think it is this ‘connectiveness’ of those dinners that really impacted us growing up. Funny you mention that story about your brother… My sister cut my finger with a carving knife once and I remember how shocked and sad she we (it was both our faults as we were playing around). Good times 🙂

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            • Amusing you mention you felt shocked when your sister cut your finger . I felt shocked when I saw blood coming out of my pinky after my brother tried to snip it off. My mum forced us to finish dinner together right after the incident. And funnily enough, we still eat together today.

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  13. In Germany we never had any dinner together or lets say not real dinner. Mostly we ate bread and thats about it. The main meal was always lunch. Until few years ago I rarely went out to eat as it was just too expensive for me and I grew up with my mother making every meal so there was never any reason to eat out.

    Since I am with my wife the main meal has changed to dinner and nowadays we eat nearly every evening together. Also through her I learned to appreciate restaurants but still to this day we go out maximum twice a month to get our lunch or dinner at a restaurant 🙂

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    • I had no idea in Germany the main meal is lunch. So lunch must be very filling then. Or maybe lunch over there is what people in other places would eat for dinner. Just bread for dinner? That sounds plain, and I do wonder how you don’t feel hungry when you go to bed 🙂

      Sounds like you have nice dinners at home with your wife, and Nathan. Maybe he just watches from the sides of the table since he is still quite young.

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      • I guess it is hard for people to eat suddenly so less for dinner when you are used to have the main meal during the day in the evening. I never felt hungry back then, it was just usual for me. Lunch was also nothing too special or big. Basicaly since I am together with my wife I eat the double amount of food…

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        • Have to agree with you there. I find it hard to change my eating patterns too. Eating dinner after 6pm doesn’t sit too well with me.

          Funny you say now you eat double the amount of food than in your younger days. Back then you were a sportsperson and surely you would have needed more food back then, or eaten more then.

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  14. I grew up eating dinner together as a family, and now with my own family , we still do this for every meal at home, unless there is something really important (like the Asian Cup Final) on TV. Our children are teenagers and its difficult to get conversation out of them at the best of times, but it tends to flow much more easily over dinner. It also gives them a chance to be involved in family decision making, which is important for us as parents.

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    • Thanks for sharing, Graham. Interesting to say that the conversation flows better over dinner for your family. I suppose if there are any lulls in the conversation, you can all talk about the food on the table. Or turn your attention towards the dishes silently and think of another topic to talk about.

      Sounds like dinner is still a cozy time for you, and your family. A time to connect with each other and share and respect different perspectives.

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  15. I love meals with family. Growing up, we always ate dinner when my dad got home from work, and I carried on this tradition when I got married. It’s a great time to catch up on what’s been happening in everyone’s day. 🙂

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    • Sounds like family dinners very important in your family. A constant in your life. Sometimes to come home to at the end of the day. Gives us purpose in life, in that we regroup, chat, and help each other out if we need it 🙂

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  16. I’ve definitely been more aware of the importance of eating together “properly” at home since YJ started working so much. We can rarely eat together, even if we eat the same food at a different time of day. Before that though, we would cook and then eat togetherーand I really miss it! Days off are usually spent out and about so we eat together at restaurants, but like you said it’s not really the same. Will definitely be making more of an effort to eat together in future.
    Especially since like you, I grew up doing that with my family. Even if I wouldn’t eat the same thing as my parents (for some reason I can’t stand the smell of ovenbaked salmon, blahhh) I would rustle up something and we would eat at the same time. It’s definitely an important time for the family together since breakfast may be rushed, not eaten at all, or just at different times, and lunch is at work/school.
    Very insightful postーand I’m looking forward to checking out the one on eating alone you linked to. 😀

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    • I hope you and YJ get to eat more together soon in the future. It’s great that you two eat together on days off – that way you can try more kinds of food! Having meals together not only comes with more food to try, but also more intimate and affectionate conversations. It’s always during these eating together with loved one moments that you learn something shocking or surprising about them…like how my mum discovered I don’t like pork at the dinner table.

      That is a good point. Breakfast is certainly rushed for a lot of us. So too is lunch, a time when we’re worrying about getting back to work. Dinner? The last meal of the day, and night is supposed to be relaxing for a lot of us. So not much excuse to rush it. Thank you, Ri. Always so kind.

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  17. Great point of view!! I love eating with my family… though, as my family is in Brazil I only manage to do that sometimes, once a year. Here in Germany its only me and W for dinner, and we are always eating in front of the TV 😦 sometimes I force him to sit on the table and have a proper dinner 😀 as for lunch, I am always alone.. and I don’t like that. I hate eating along. In Brazil it is still very important to eat with the family, and is loud just like you mentioned about Malaysia 😀 but I like it!!
    Have a great weekend Mabel 😀

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    • Awww. Only you and W in Germany at the dinner table. You forget Enzzo. I think now he isn’t very happy with you. But maybe he is the kind who like to eat at other times of the day 🙂

      Well, W watching TV while eating…that means you can probably take more food or servings from the table and take his serving as well!!!

      Good to hear you enjoy family dinners in Brazil. The more you laugh and talk with your many family members at the table, the more you will eat! Too happy!

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        • Hahaha. I suppose eating in front of the TV is better than not eating together at all 😀 Of course, dogs always want food. Next time if I meet Enzzo, we will probably be best buddies straight away and I will buy him a dog biscuit 🙂

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  18. “unconditional love” — beautiful!
    When I was growing up my family always ate together. Now I enjoy eating with friends, but consider home better than out. Maybe this is an artifact of being not only frugal but vegetarian, and worry that I’m troublesome to non-veg friends. It’s wonderful that you still have your parents and enjoy meals with them.

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    • Thank you, Sandy. Who doesn’t like to eat with friends – more food to try, good conversation, change of scenery from staying at home.

      I hope your non-veg friends and acquaintances don’t give you too hard a time about your diet choice. It’s great that many places do have vegetarian options. I’m always game to go to a vegetarian place if my veg-friends suggest it. No problem there for me.

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  19. Eating at home has a LOT of benefits, like you mentioned. Jon and I eat at home most of the time. I like knowing what’s going into my food! I couldn’t take the boisterous environment in a Melbourne restaurant all the time, either. My introverted self would just cave in.

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    • I know, who doesn’t like knowing what’s going in their food! When I eat out at hawker centres or street food stalls, I make it a point to look closely at each spoonful of food before it goes into my mouth.

      You’d probably get a headache if you had a meal with my extended family. But it helps if you sit quietly – the others at the table tend to politely ask you a few questions and leave you alone.

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  20. Eating together around a table is something my family used to do when I was a child, but we didn’t have TV then in South Africa. Today, my husband and I eat together, but often in front of the TV, unless it’s a clear night and we’re having a BBQ, in which case we eat together outside.

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    • Eating in front of the TV isn’t all that a bad thing. You can talk in between the commercials and maybe share a few laughs or find common ground over what you are watching. Clear night and a BBQ? Amazing. Hard to do that in Melbourne because it’s usually too cold in the evenings for that.

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  21. Eating together is a part of Eastern traditional habits, you have described all the benefits of it beautifully. Nowaday, young people are getting to work more and more to earn their living as well as keep up with modern social standards. It is hard to come home on time with your parents and enjoy delicious meals, albeit most of us are eager to spend time with family members. Would it be a bad side effect of modern society and should young people be forgive about that, Mabel?

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    • So true when you say it’s hard for young people to come home on time, say 6pm, for dinner. Our schedules, at least for me, are quite spontaneous at times. My mum doesn’t like it when I say I can’t make it to dinner two hours before. Fair enough, since effort goes into making a meal fit for a family.

      What an interesting question. To some extent, I have to agree it’s a bad side effect of modern society and the culture of socialising and eating out. I also think that for some young people, eating dinner at home with the family is seen as uncool – that they are still dependent on their parents in some way, or going home so often at a certain time for dinner makes them look sheltered in the eyes of others.

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  22. Sure eating together as a family is important –for a lot of families that are decent in treatment with each other. I think it would be awfully difficult if there was known domestic abuse..then that’s a situation where it’s asking almost too much…especially of children.

    One hopes a lot of parents impose the rule of no cellphone answering /looking during the meal at the table. One learns how to conduct small chat or complicated conversations… as well as the art of listening.

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    • So true, and a great point. Not all families get along and I pondered that while I was writing this post. Sometimes family dinners will always be more dreaded than something you look forward to.

      During dinner with my parents, no one brings a phone to the table. We all live it in the living room or bedrooms and turn the ringtone on. If someone happens to call, we’ll just excuse ourselves and leave the table to answer it. I think it’s more tactful and polite that way.

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  23. From what I read through the comments, I guess my family is bit exceptional 😀 – during my childhood, my parents had long working hours so we were rarely eating together during dinner time especially on weekdays. Food was always available at the fridge and the dining table. My brother and I usually ate whenever we felt to with or without my parents around. However, during the birthdays and special religious days like Ied Fitr, Christmas and Easter (my father is a Muslim and my mom is a Catholic) then we usually had dinner together as a family. I like it that way actually, to have special dining with the family for special event.. 🙂

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    • Thanks for sharing, Indah. Good to hear you family made up for not eating together on special occasions. I bet during those times you all had a lot to talk about and it’s exciting to see a lot of food on the table 😀 Don’t know about everyone else, but I always prefer a piping hot meal than leftovers or food in the fridge!

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      • 😀 fresh food is always better of course..but I have been raised to respect food and should not throw away the leftovers if they were still eatable. All leftovers from previous dinner that still eatable then consumed on the next day. They were being warmed up of course – most Asian food – thankfully – were still good on the following day. I get used to it until now, so now as I am this old, all leftovers from dinner usually become my lunch on the following day 😉 No food should be wasted.

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        • My mum doesn’t throw leftover food away, and like you, believes it’s still eatable and doesn’t like food to go in the rubbish bin. Sometimes she will cook a big pot of fried rice to last a few meals, and that I certainly do not mind eating the next day 😀

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  24. Indeed , sharing a meal is one of the best ways to bond. But it is also a space where concerns can be voiced and alignment of thoughts and actions achieved.

    But in the hurry burry of today’s world, how many of us hold the consciousness to achieve this?

    Shakti

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    • That is so true. Dinner time is a time for talk and exchanging our stories to see where we’re at and where we’re going. Hurry. I wonder why we all like to rush. Sometimes we have deadlines, sometimes we are after the “next big thing”. My parents are fast eaters. Sometimes they finish dinner in fifteen minutes. Me, on the other hand, I take at least half an hour.

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  25. i grew up where breakfast and dinner was a family affair. so that became a norm in my household. now that the kids are all grown up, we make sure to eat together whenever possible. it is fun and we love it.

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    • Awww. So nice to hear your family still eats together when you can. I bet when you do, those moments are very special and you don’t mind cooking at all, no matter how time-consuming it is. It’s these little dinner moments that seem to be very memorable for a lot of us.

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  26. I am so pleased to hear that in the increasing isolation and virtualisation of our society, via technology, many of us still relish a meal together with those whom we share a house with ( family/flatmates etc) When I was a child, our family had to eat in silence as my father would listen to the 6 pm news! Now, with my own family, we have a lively conversation ( No TV on at all), and exactly as you and some of the commenters described: it is sometimes awkward, sometimes chatty. As much as it is a pain to have to cook and plan meals at home there are so many social and health benefits to this. We connect, we eat affordable balanced meals, and, it is important as a way to de-stress after the day. When my kids were small, eating together was 10 minutes of hellish work,feeding them, cutting up their food, getting them to try new foods, cajoling them to finish their meal. This meant that we didn’t enjoy our meals, then later as teens, they were mostly monosyllabic and ‘woofed’ down the food, or pushed it away!! Now as adults, eating togethert is a wonderful time where we look forward to, and a reason for my son ( who has moved out) and daughter in law, to visit. We will linger after eating, to debate politics, philosophy or life. It is an education and life skill for my youngest to hear these conversations. Work lunches can be the same as well, so not only is it important for family or staff bonding, it is an opportunity to learn and de-brief. It always feels a little strange when I eat alone and I then tend to read or check my phone as I eat, and don’t focus on the food, or enjoying my meal. It was so interesting reading your post and then all the comments. Thanks, Mabel.

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    • Thanks, Amanda. You said quite a few insightful things there. Eating in silence as a kid because your dad wanted to listen to the 6pm news. You know what, I think that was why dinner with my parents was quiet too when I was little. Dad would get home from work and wanted to hear what’s happening around the world while eating – he was the sole breadwinner back then so I think that’s why dinner revolved around him.

      “It is a pain to have to cook and plan meals at home” Very bluntly put it. In all honesty most dinner take more than half an hour to prepare, from the chopping of the vegies to the plating up. Then there’s washing the dishes at home. It can be tiring, and not everyone in the family will pitch in. Excuses are so easy to make.

      I think as adults, we crave to know more about the world around us, so we don’t mind chatty dinners too much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was meant to cook dinner today but what happened was my younger daughter’s boyfriend had called in during the afternoon and the two of them made delicious baked chocolate custard desserts. My daughter made special baked potatoes then offered to make a tasty salad with chickpeas and fresh salad vegetables. When my wife came home from work we all enjoyed a great dinner with good conversation. The meal was casual yet nutritious and fun because we improvised with the ingredients we had available. The dining hub continues to be the social hub of our home 🙂

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        • What a hearty dinner made with love. Sounds like all of you enjoyed it tremendously. Fresh vegetables, raw or cooked, always make a meal taste much better, in my opinion. It tastes even better if your grow them yourself.

          ‘Special baked potatoes’. Any food with the word ‘special’ in it tends to be more delicious.

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  27. I enjoy reading your eating/food series, I like how you write it and from the culture perspective. Beautiful food presentations here, Mabel! I know you have lots of hits already, do you mind if I make a link to your post later?

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    • Agree with you there, Charlie. It’s so easy to make excuses to not eat at home. Eating out is always and adventure since there are so many dining options out there (and with different companions), which can sometimes make eating at home with the loved ones – possibly eating the same dishes – boring.

      Like

  28. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds | The World Is a Book...

  29. I was really sentimental as I was reading each line of the post. I felt like I had a fleeting time travel to my childhood. It just dawned on me how much I miss my family. It’s almost four years since I paid a visit back in my hometown. My vacation is nearing (in April) and I just felt the need to really see the old house and the family and relatives I left there years ago. I miss my father, my two siblings, my cousins, my uncles and aunties, my granny, and the rest of those who were left back then. My mother and four other siblings are now based in the capital city. Above all, I miss the times I was a kid. I wish I could pull us all together into even just one time on that long, rectangle table–like the good times–when I get home.

    “Presence speaks a thousand words.” I never felt so alone abroad until today, Mabel. Blood is really thicker than water I must say.

    But I digress, before my cubbyhole gets flooded. I couldn’t ignore what’s in the photo. I don’t find it actually that appealing as a snack since we, Filipinos, are used to eating avocado with just sugar and mil–as a dessert. But, of course, what’s in there looks insanely nutritious. I would devour it instantly just thinking how healthy it is.

    Thanks for reminding me to eat healthy, to remember how precious family is, and to make it a point to eat with our family or in my case now housemates at home.

    Like

    • Four years is a long time to be away from the ones you love…but you’re away for a good reason and I’m sure those back home are proud of you. Soon you will make the pilgrimage back to see them and I’m sure they’ll be just as excited to see you. Pretty sure there will be a big feast awaiting you. Together, all together again and you will experience once again what it’s like to eat together at home with family. Interesting to hear you say you and your family eat at a rectangular. In Malaysia, we very seldom buy rectangular tables for dining tables but round ones. But that’s a post for another day.

      I am sorry I made you feel alone where you are, Sony. We can be surrounded by people who are very nice or we can be in a roomful of people, yet feel very much alone 😦

      I didn’t know Filipinos ate avocado. In Australia, we tend to eat them fresh. No sugar, just the fruit itself. To be honest, I had a hard time finishing all that avocado in the photo. Too much for Mabel 🙂 Thank you for liking my photo and the nice comments. Your comments are always so poetic.

      Like

  30. It’s just the 2 of us at home, and while I love intimate dinners with Hubby, I sometimes miss dining with family… even though I’m not much of a talker… it’s the feeling of togetherness that I really miss. As you put it “presence speaks a thousand words”. BTW, those pics of toast with avocado (the one in this post and also the tomato-topped one in the other post) had me drooling!

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    • It’s great you dine with your hubby in the evenings. Just the two of you together trading stories…sounds like he’s not as chatty as the others in your family 😀

      Thanks for the nice words on the photo, Kan. Unfortunately the toast was very hard and dry. It was challenging to cut it with the sharp knife and I ended up using my hands.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. I think all Asian cultures are like that, Even here in Pakistan or adjacent countries we follow the same traditions, of mutual respect and family traditions. That is what brings us all closer together, the small things we care for and sitting together on the same table, chatting and making conversations rather than sitting in front of the T.v or eating in their respective rooms which is becoming more of a trend in Western cultures…you already know I love your thought provoking posts which I so missed reading 🙂 ❤

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    • You are right, Zee. Many Asian cultures value togertherness, value the idea that two is better than one. So we eat together. It’s a sign that we care for each other. “…the small things we care for”. Very well put. Eating dinner at home with the family or housemates may be a routine activity but at the same time it speaks volumes in terms of how we care about one another.

      Thank you, Zee. Lots of love right back to you 🙂 ❤

      Like

  32. As a large family, here in the UK, Sunday is usually the only day everyone sits down to eat together, along with special occasions such as Christmas, New Year, Easter and Birthdays. A typical family Sunday lunch is a roast chicken, beef, pork or lamb, with potatoes, vegetables and gravy, followed by a dessert.

    I’ve even found when eating with my family that everyone always sits in exactly at the same place as they always do around the table. We never swap places, always sit on the same chair. That that happen with your family, Mabel?

    Some people, when have dinner parties, make it a point that everyone changes places at the table after the main course has finished so that everyone gets to sit next to someone different during the meal. I think that’s quite fun to do as you get to talk somebody different.

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    • Good to hear the tradition of eating round the table is still alive and well in the UK. Who doesn’t like a big, hot and hearty meal on the table at least once a week, I don’t know.

      That is a great observation. I sit in the same chair when I’m eating dinner, so does my dad, mum and brother when we all eat dinner together. Once I tried to sit in my dad’s chair and my mum said, “Dad sit’s there” and I decided not to argue and went back to my usual spot.

      I’ve never been to a dinner party where people swap chairs deliberately. Though I’ve been to some where people leave after the main course to check out the rest of the house or TV and those who are left hijack the empty chairs to talk to others 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  33. It seems to be something that has not long started, Mabel, and the last time I went to a dinner party, couples were spilt up and then we all got to swap places before dessert. It’s a great way of getting to know just about everyone at the table, especially when there is more than eight of you. This idea seems to be catching on now.

    Yes, it’s strange how we all sit in the same place at the table. It is almost as if the whole world is likely to end if we decide to try and sit somewhere else at the table and take somebody else’s space.

    Like

    • It’s a bit like ea game of musical chairs when someone gets up and swaps seats to chat with another person at the dinner table. Sometimes you might find yourself finishing a conversation with someone at the other end of the table, and returning to your first seat to find that your chair is gone.

      As some have said, at home, there’s always a seat at the table for everyone. A reserved seat, meaning that you’re welcome to eat at home. Maybe that explains it why we seldom change seats.

      Liked by 1 person

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