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How are meals served in your home?

Another thread got me thinking. How are your (evening) meals served in your home? Do you have multiple courses every evening? Do you serve each course by itself or all at once? Do you plate the food in the kitchen and then bring it out or is it family style? Or do you have different styles based on whether it's weekday or weekend?

I do cook from scratch, so every meal is at least somewhat time consuming. Weekdays are very casual, as I don't have time (or the metabolism) to make multiple courses. Weekends are different, but we still don't have multiple courses, formal dinners every weekend even. But during the week, it's a single "course" that includes salad, served all at once. We almost never eat dessert, even on weekends.

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  1. Most evenings it's just my man and I, so we generally eat at the kitchen counter. Multiple courses? Hahahaha, that's funny. We don't do dessert, so that one's out, and if I make a salad, it's all served together. Most meals consist of fish or meat + vegetables + salad.

    When we have dinner guests, I may serve the appetizer at the kitchen counter -- often it's a la minute items like calamari -- it's easier that way & we're a fairly casual bunch, and the main at the dining room table. If/when there is dessert, it's served separately (no duh) afterwards, with dessert plates.

    1. it's never the same.
      hubby and I eat at coffee table.
      hubby and I eat at long bar.
      in back yard on old Italian thick wood table with its dual benches.
      front porch under flag pole.
      usually little ones aren't home for din but if they are, add to above.
      salad on a plate or in bowl. dinner all on a plate.
      if I braised beans all day, they go in their own small cup, fresh bread on a small plate.

      1. I'm on my own for most meals, so I plate in the kitchen and sit on the couch to eat. When I have people over to eat, I tend to serve family style or set up a buffet. My kitchen isn't really large enough to accommodate plating in the kitchen. The only hint of a multi-course meal is having dessert after the dinner plates are cleared.

        Growing up, all of our meals family style (and we had breakfast and dinner as a family every day, plus lunch on weekends). Holiday/extended family meals are still served family style, but my parents plate meals in the kitchen when I'm visiting and it's just the 3 of us.

        1. Most of the time there's just the two of us and we have an eat in kitchen. Often we have a first course, yesterday it was artichokes, so we'll sit down and eat that. Then one of us will begin making the main course while the other prepares a salad--which is tossed in a salad bowl with garlic toast at the table when there's a break in the cooking. When the main course is ready it comes to the table if it was baked in a serving dish or plates are served at the stove if it's something like meat and potatoes. Dessert is a rarity without company, we usually just have a small square of dark chocolate. With company, we usually have an antipasto on the kitchen counter and serve courses at the outside table or the dining table at the end of the living room.

          1. Just the husband and me. We eat at the table adjacent to the kitchen (what some people would call a breakfast nook). We each serve ourselves from the counter in the kitchen and everything is served at the same time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Same thing here. Even when we are entertaining, it is a serve yourself and sit thing as our gatherings are totally casual. I'll serve several apps at once and let everyone work on them. When dinner is ready, it is all laid out on the kitchen table and people can serve themselves what they want.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                Same for us. We fill our plates then sit down. If I'm feeling fancy I'll set the table instead of just grabbing a knife & fork from the drawer on my way to the table. :-)

              2. I really had to laugh at this question, because it brought me right back to childhood--I don't know how old I was before I found out that other people didn't put the food on the table in the pots or pans that they were cooked in.......no wonder we had so many "hot mats"!!!

                2 Replies
                1. re: KSlink

                  We pretty much did that for my entire childhood, and still do for informal extended family meals. I'm better about transferring things to serving dishes, but still serve family style. Maybe that's a southern family dinner thing.

                  1. re: KSlink

                    I don't even put the pots and pans on the table. ;-) Buffet from the stove top (baked items do go on the table). I'm from the north.

                  2. I like this thread.

                    Most of the time I'm on my own. So, I'll cook up something and eat it from a plate while sitting on my balcony if I use the grill. If I prepare something in the kitchen, I'll usually eat at the counter in my kitchen with my TV turned toward the kitchen so I can watch, or I'll go sit on the couch and eat from the table.

                    When I have a guest over, I usually prepare an appetizer appropriate to the main and have it set out, with the appropriate alcoholic beverage, for when they arrive. This is usually consumed, while standing and talking at the island or breakfast counter in the kitchen, while I finish the final prep for the main and sides. The main and sides will be initially plated, but I always make far too much food, and the extras will be placed on the dinner table, where we dine. I generally serve dessert or, probably more often, a cheese course, after I remove the leftover main and sides to the kitchen.

                    When I have a group of friends over, it is usually a free for all. I'll have appetizers/snacks and beverages set out for when people start to arrive, but everything else will be served family style. Dessert gets placed in the middle of a table with the appropriate dishes and silver next to it after the table is cleared for those that want to partake.

                    1. We sit in the formal dining room and the butler serves multiple courses, followed by sherry in the library.

                      Hah, I wish. Instead, we generally eat in the eat-in kitchen at a small round table, just enough room for the 4 of us. In nice weather, on the deck. Generally I plate the food and hand it to the diners for them to carry to the table or we do a "stove-top" buffet thing. Salad and often veggie sides go on the table itself. This is partially for portion control and partially because there's no room on the table for everything to be put out.

                      1. K Slink's reply (a couple of notches above this one) made me laugh --- spouse's family serve in mixing bowls - on the table. Or the container that it came in -- straight out of the fridge. I now realize this early incompatibility clue should have been a red light and a pre-paid ticket to the divorce arena. The ultimate the other day was when guests over for proper sit-down dinner that i do cook and present well - and spouse gets the simple dessert course organized (fresh berries and cream or something) anyway - he presents each guest with a CAT DISH (we use white dishes for the pets meals too) -- thankfully the dishes go in the dishwasher.

                        the other thing that some families do and it irks me is not properly clear the table before the next course (esp betw/ main and dessert-coffee course). The spouse will even start in on dessert before everyone is finished the main.

                        then again they yell "come and grab something to eat" -- well not in my kitchen they don't. I have worked hard to prepare the food and prior to that step - someone worked hard to grow the food and obviously, an animal / plant gave its life for our food. So while i do often present a self-serve dinner (ie on the sideboard and every guest takes what they like) -- i don't invite people to grab it.

                        Not sure why these things matter but they do in my experience at business functions, etc. and in my years of being a server.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Georgia Strait

                          Oh my God...cat dishes? I thought that idiotic trend was over.....or did he just mistake one dish for another???

                          1. re: KSlink

                            i can only laugh - what i meant was dishes that we normally use for the pet cats. they are plain white melmac (like camping dishes) and i just about fainted when he had served everything in them - but at least they are white. but really. I shoulda woulda coulda!

                            meanwhile, you should see what friends buy at Daiso (the Japanese dollar store in Richmond BC Canada - it is HUGE - way bigger than the one in Seattle if you know of it) - they literally are CAT dishes - as in shaped like. Mugs too.

                            1. re: Georgia Strait

                              Cat dishes made me laugh too. We have two dedicated saucers that are the cat's food dish. Back when he used to eat wet food, we also had a dedicated spoon for the cat food. Both the dish(es) and the spoon look particular sad yet it never failed, guests (particularly my mother) would grab those items first when helping themselves to a dish or spoon.

                        2. It's just my DH and me, so we now plate in the kitchen and eat in the dining room. Sometimes have salad as a first course, but not usually. When DD was home or when anyone is eating with us, we eat family style, with all the dishes set out on the table. Not in their pots. :-)

                          1. It depends on the day of the week. We always have dinner in the dining room, served family style from platters and bowls. No courses, just a meal of protein, vegetables, carbs, and lessons in table manners. Although often we eat in shifts as we have a 3 and 4 year old, and someone always seems to need to go potty again as soon as we sit down to eat! Or my husband's work phone rings and off he has to go to save the world's economy from imminent collapse via corrupt databases or some such nonsense.

                            Friday nights though are a different matter entirely. My parents and my sister and her husband come over. We start with cocktails and a small snack (like nuts or crackers with hummus) in the living room, then move to the dining room for wine, fresh baked challah (bread) and a first course of either soup or a salad, then we have the main course with sides, and then retire to the living room for a while. After conversation and relaxing some more, my sister gets the kids into their pajamas and we all return to the table to dessert and coffee (hot cocoa for the kids)

                            I love Shabbat dinners. They are the highlight of my week.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tzurriz

                              your home sounds amazing - i do chuckle at your husband saving the world during dinner (via cell ph no less) - sad but true.

                              1. re: Georgia Strait

                                Yeah, I guess it does sound great, but at about 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon as I scurry around trying to sweep cheerios and tonka trucks off the living room floor and the oven dings that my challah is ready and I haven't yet washed my hair, I'm always tempted to just cancel the whole thing!

                                I change my tune at 5:30 when people start walking in the door though. Especially if it is a week where either my mom or sister actually makes the main meal! (We trade off on a 3 week rotation).

                            2. It varies, depending on the night of the week and who is home to eat, but we usually do 3 courses: the main, plated in the kitchen; the salad, served at the table, and then dessert. Dessert is essential, as it is the most important meal of the day. ;D

                              We usually eat in the kitchen, but if there are more than four of us, we don't fit, so we go to the dining room.

                              And some nights, I have to confess, we all eat separately because we're too tired, busy, or grumpy to talk to one another.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Isolda

                                Your routine is similar to ours, down to your last sentence as well. Well, we always eat in the kitchen except for holidays and dinner parties, then we use the dining room.

                                We have dessert, but not every day. Usually it would be some sort of fruit that is in season rather than a baked good. We didn't have dessert too often when I was growing up either. My mother had a friend who was baffled as to why we didn't have dessert every night. She asked my mother, "How do you end your meals if you don't have dessert"? My mother responded with, "Uhm, we just get up from the table and walk away".

                              2. There's just two of us and I cook 4 out of the 5 weekday nights and either Saturday or Sunday, but usually not both. Most meals consist of an entree with 2 sides (on one plate) plus a salad in a bowl, all served at once. We always eat at the dining room table (there is no room for a table in the kitchen) but never at the small bar/counter we have. This is most likely because then we would have a view of the stove and microwave above it. When we eat at the dining room table we can watch TV. The actually eating time is never more than 20 minutes, though the average prep and cooking time is about an hour. :)

                                For formal dinner parties guests arrive at 7 for cocktails and appetizers served in the living room or on the terrace/balcony if the weather is nice. This is followed by 4 separately-plated in the kitchen courses served at the dining table with guests usually leaving around midnight.

                                1. Most days are a rush to get something reasonably "from scratch" into my starving toddler. I cook a lot on the weekends but even leftovers need some time to reheat and cut up into tiny pieces he won't choke on. On miracle nights, I am able to whip up similar food for mr. RNR and me at the same time and we all eat together, which means Dh standing at the counter and me at the table, where there is only room for 1 chair, and kiddo at his chair and TV tray next to me (ah, apartment living). Other nights it's me and the kiddo eating, and the hubs eats later. Many other nights, hubs and I wait til the kid goes to sleep so we can have a more adult meal, but it's never with multiple courses or whatever. Very occasionally on a weekend if we are eating later than normal, I will put out an app for me and him, but that's about it in terms of courses.

                                  1. it's usually just me, so i plate in the kitchen and bring it over to the dining table or breakfast bar to eat. typically a single course, and i don't eat dessert at home unless i have guests.

                                    if i'm entertaining, it depends on the size & composition of the guest list and the occasion - sometimes multiple courses served individually, sometimes buffet, sometimes family style...but i always hold dessert & coffee/tea until everything from the apps & mains has been cleared.

                                    1. I do like reading what everyone else does. Nice thread, velo.

                                      We are super-casual (I may be a Duchess but it's a wind-blown, rubble-strewn, barren duchy lol). We both tend to long hours and eat rather late (9 or 10 p.m.). It's often served on the coffee table watching some TV and chatting. We don't have kids that need us to model good behaviors. :)

                                      We actually do like separate courses though. Salad (sometimes two salad courses), one or two appetizer courses (that can simply be olives and cheese), then dinner proper and a sweet.

                                      I served jury duty last year, and found myself puzzling on how the family involved ate dinner: dad picked up fast food for all, then they each (dad, mom's cousin, teen boy, teen girl) retired to their bedrooms to eat it, while mom stayed in the living room. Every family is different.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                        "It's often served on the coffee table watching some TV and chatting. We don't have kids that need us to model good behaviors. :)"

                                        We have a child, but we do this every once in a while. We lay out a blanket in the living room and "picnic" in front of the TV. It's fun, but it's also a treat and we like to do it for a change of pace... so we "mostly" model good behaviors. :) We tend to not talk during these picnic dinners, so kitchen table meals with the TV off are the norm because I think dinner conversation with kids is really important.

                                        Something else we like to do about once a week is play "dinner games". It's a tin of cards that have ideas for things to do at the dinner table that are fun, informative, educational, etc.

                                        We really enjoy company at dinner, so the idea of getting fast food and just eating in individual rooms isn't our style. That wouldn't fly in our house, but to each their own.

                                        1. re: velochic

                                          sometimes in the winter, we, like you, spread out the picnic blanket and trimmings in front of the fire for our young one - who thinks it's a big treat. it is fun to vary but still eat veggies, you know what i mean? Sometimes a movie dinner night. But by myself, i'm a sinner - cereal over the sink or some abomination like that.

                                      2. Just the two of us. We both work late, so by the time we get home we're tired and hungry. Luckily we cook extra on weekends so have leftovers all week long. We each put together leftovers in whatever fashion we choose. Often similar ingredients but usually different results. Once everything is heated we put our plates on trays and take dinner downstairs and watch tv while eating. We break out the wine. Weekends we cook both brunch and dinner from scratch and dine in the dining room.

                                        1. We are a four generation family. My mom is with us part of the time, my daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren live upstairs in an apartment, and we mostly all eat dinner together. My son-in-law works many evenings, so he is often not home for dinner. Whoever is here eats at the dining room table, it is mostly one course protein, vegetables and sometimes starch. Sometimes the vegetable is salad, sometimes we have both salad and a vegetable. Everything is usually in some sort of serving dish,( unless it is a casserole, which I might serve from the pan it was cooked in) and the table is set for dinner. The kids ( ages almost 4 and 6) are somewhat picky eaters and often do not eat what we eat for supper (although we continue to try!). They might have pasta, or bread with cheese and fruit, or bread and pasta sauce( we load the pasta sauce with tons of vegetables) to dip it in, and their plates are often fixed in the kitchen. My husband, who is retired does almost all of the cooking during the week when I am working, and I usually cook on weekends. We have homemade pizza on Friday nights. That is actually served on round pizza pans, because I'm not sure how else you would serve pizza ( and it is a meal the kids will eat!) On Sundays, I usually do a complete Sunday dinner (roast something, potaotes and vegetables, usually a salad too, and we always have home made bread. On Sundays, I set the table with "good" dishes (which are actually Blue Willow stone ware) and we usually have a home made dessert. During the week, the kids usually have ice cream or a cookie or pudding after dinner, and they usually have it in the living room while watching tv or reading a story.

                                          1. I work full time, but 2-3 days a week I work from home. On those days, I cook and we eat as a family at the kitchen table, usually around 6:00. I plate things at the stove/island and serve everyone their plate. Rarely do I put out platters of food for the 4 of us.

                                            On days that I work in the city, I leave a meal of some sort for my nanny to give to my kids right before I get home. Sometimes, many times, it is something that I prepared ahead of time and had in the freezer (meatloaf, meatballs, chili, etc).

                                            Then when I get home, I generally cook a quick dinner, that I planned in advance, for me and my husband. When we eat is when kids will have a small dessert or fruit.

                                            Saturdays are a crapshoot as we often go out and kids stay with a babysitter. Sundays we also eat as a family at the table, but often times we will bring in some kind of food, mostly Chinese.

                                            When we have guests and it's a casual thing, we often still eat in the kitchen, though I will serve on platters family style. We have a large table that can accommodate 8 people. Currently, we don't have a dining room table, so if it is a more formal meal, like Thanksgiving or Passover, or there are many guests, we move the kitchen table into the dining room and then add folding tables to accommodate everyone.

                                            1. I make up plates in the kitchen and serve one course at the dinner table. I like us sitting together and talking. Now if my boyfriend serves himself a second course, he will make up his plate buffet style in the kitchen.

                                              Desserts are rare (like growing up) and usually for a special occasion.

                                              1. There's just me and my husband.

                                                At the dinner table most of the time (the exception being the occasional take out meal or casual leftovers). Sometimes from serving dishes, sometimes directly from the stove, sometimes plated, depending on the dish - on the weekends it's usually a little fancier. If it's from the pot, the pot is left in the kitchen. Leftovers and pre-made dishes are often served out of the storage dish.

                                                Dinner is usually a protein dish, a starch dish, and at least two vegetable dishes, one of which is usually a salad of some sort (sometimes in combination, like a casserole). We often have soup as a side dish.

                                                We rarely do courses, unless I'm cooking an Italian style meal, which is usually on the weekends. We never eat dessert at the dinner table - if we do have something sweet, it's usually an hour or two later.

                                                We don't have a dishwasher, and dishes have to be washed under a running tap (rather than filling up the sink to let stuff soak), so minimizing dishes is a consideration.

                                                1. Just DH and myself. Typically, we plate the entire meal in the kitchen and eat at the table. If there is salad, it typically goes on the same plate as the rest (there is rarely salad). We usually never have dessert (unless there is left over b'day cake!).

                                                  Last night was the exception to our one-plate/course meal, when I busted out a cheese course post-dinner!

                                                  1. It's just me and husband, he works long hours and mine are erratic (work from home but must go out on appointments, sometimes evening into night). I do the cooking, from scratch. He is in charge of the grill, however, so he gets more of a workout in the good weather. On a typical night, I'll be home and have something prepared that might need a bit of finishing, generally involving a protein, starch, cooked greens or salad or a loaded soup or stew with all the elements within. We'll have a cocktail, set the table, and then I'll finish and plate in the kitchen and take to the dining room. It's not a formal dining room -- the kitchen is too small for eating in, and there's an open doorway and pass-thru to the dining room, which is also the room we generally just hang out it (It's a very old house -- a colonial farmhouse, in that it was built by real colonists before the Revolution, in Bucks County, PA). The table is about 8-ft long, with a bench on one side (drawers beneath add desperately needed storage) and chairs on the other. There's a huge fireplace, the room encloses the old summer kitchen and has an open ceiling, and we've got a TV in there as well as a couple armchairs. So we'll watch news or something and just relax. No dessert, except maybe a cookie.

                                                    On the weekends, we have people over at least one night, the apps are on the center kitchen island, which holds the stove, too, and typically include hummus, olives, meats and cheeses. Noshing and cocktails are imbibed here, visiting kids take over the living room and wander back in for snacks, while whatever is being finished. Again, usually a roasted something, a braised something, starch, greens, or could be a pasta. Whatever it is is rounded out by good bread or a toast with cheese or maybe an artichoke first if they look good and work with the rest. Evenly divided between plating in the kitchen or serving family style on the table, depending on what suits that evening's fare. If it's family style, serving pieces are used. TV off, music on, wine abundant. With people over, there's always a dessert and espresso or coffee or both. After-dinner drinks may be a sipping rum, whatever's left in the wine bottle or port. The liquor cabinet and the wine fridge are right there, so it's all pretty casual. But the napkins are cloth and the half-and-half for coffee decanted into a vessel. It's a little more to wash, but it's nice.

                                                    1. Weeknights Mrs. O (The Breadwinner) gets home around 7:00; I'll either have supper underway or it's something I can do in an hour, because we normally eat around 8:00. We serve ourselves in the kitchen, and then if we have a movie or mutually-enjoyed show to watch we'll go eat in the den, she on the sofa with the cat and dog, I at the pub table after scooting her MacBook out of the way. If it's her favorite trash she's watching I'll eat and read on the dining table. Weekends are much the same, except that we can eat whenever we want to, although it's usually the same times. We have breakfast together almost every morning, on the dining table with the L.A. and Pasadena papers. We have a woman friend who comes over most Wednesdays and helps Mrs. O watch trash, except when there's a Top Chef running and then we all watch that.

                                                      We do have a formidable array of Very Fancy Dinner Service that includes real heirlooms: the '20s silverplate from pa-in-law's family, lots of 19th C. French porcelain from Maman's family, plus a bunch of Dansk "Bistro" plates and serving dishes we've collected from second-hand stores and estate , so we're equipped for dinner parties, formal or otherwise, and love to throw them. Then we set the table and pass the potatoes. Of course there are the in-between dinners with a couple of friends, where we use the stainless and the Bistro plates and set everything on place mats. Got one of those for Saturday, Cinco de Mayo; wanna guess the theme?

                                                      1. It's just DH and I now, and we cook at home every day. Like many others here, there's a meat, a starch and a vegetable or two, plus a salad often (on a separate plate). It's plated up in the kitchen, and we eat at the dining table. No TV. A couple hours later we will have dessert in front of the TV, or maybe popcorn. We don't entertain much anymore, but when we do, there may be an appetizer at the snack bar while I cook. There's usually a big bowl of salad at the table, even if it's just the two of us.

                                                        1. Boyfriend works late most nights, so I end up eating by myself, usually while by my computer working or on the living room couch. When he is home, we're usually at kung fu class until 8:15, so dinner is whatever we can grab quickly before and after class (neither one of us likes to eat close to bedtime).

                                                          On the rare nights when we're both home at a reasonable time, I usually bully him into a sit down dinner in the dining room with a main (pre-plated at the stove) and a big side salad (served in individual bowls but at the same time as the main), but if I don't catch him early enough he'll start snacking on whatever is handy, or make a meal out of a succession of leftovers. I'm trying to push our eating habits more toward the sit-down dinner with a specific main and salad because I think the portioning and balance tends to be much more healthy than the meals where we each eat whatever looks good out of the refrigerator. We often have cocktails after dinner on weekends- before dinner is too much hassle.

                                                          Our family traditions differ- my parents and I sat down to dinner together every night, almost always a vegetarian main with a big bowl of salad, while he and his mom just sort of ate whenever/whatever they felt like it instead of grouping things together into a meal. Both my parents and his mom are great cooks, but while my parents make enough for dinner plus a little extra for my mom's lunch the next day; his mom tends to cook a big batch of food and pack it up as leftovers for the whole week, so I think that's where his grazing habits come from. In my family, when we would have a meal of leftovers they would all be put into serving dishes (or served in their glass storage containers if nice enough) and would be served with some fresh bread and nice cheese, or alongside a fresh pot of homemade tomato soup.

                                                          Dessert is more informal- we usually move to the couch with bowls of ice cream or lately, a package of candied ginger. I used to like to bake but boyfriend and his mom are both chinese and don't really like sweets other than ice cream, so I stopped bothering for the most part.

                                                          Edited to add: forgot to mention that the chihuahua has his own chair at the dining room table. Sad but true. We found him in the street and he had such terrible separation anxiety that we felt bad making him stay in his bed in the other room during dinner, and his nails on the hardwood floor irritated everyone, so we just stuck him on one of the extra chairs on the wall side of the table. I don't feed him during dinner, but he just sleeps on his chair and waits to see if there will be any leftovers.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: tinnywatty

                                                            "so we just stuck him on one of the extra chairs on the wall side of the table. I don't feed him during dinner, but he just sleeps on his chair and waits to see if there will be any leftovers."

                                                            Funny, but that is exactly what my parents did with me when I was a kid. :)

                                                            Nice story tinnywatty!

                                                            1. re: tinnywatty

                                                              I think the tiny dog having his own chair is fantastic. Our beloved shepherd who died last year would often clamber up and snooze on one end of the bench during dinner. New puppy is just now getting to the point where she'll relax on the floor during dinner rather than having to be contained in her crate. No begging allowed. But if they behave, I love having dogs around, mine or anyone's.

                                                              1. re: lsmutko

                                                                This guy begs shamelessly, unfortunately (he's motivated by food while he can take or leave affection/walks/toys/etc), but he knows not to do it at the table :) Sounds like you have much better discipline at your house than we do!

                                                                1. re: tinnywatty

                                                                  Puppy is all about food -- there's discipline, but it's constant! A relaxing dinner is just now, since January when we picked her up, sometimes possible. I've recently broken her of her counter-surfing habits in the kitchen and thought we were doing OK, but then over the weekend she snagged my sandwich right off the table while I was three feet away. Bad puppy, and bad owner -- I should've seen it coming!

                                                                  1. re: lsmutko

                                                                    Aww, oh no! We're lucky Kimoi can't reach the counters, although he can reach the table via chair and we know it's his first stop when we leave the house. He's very good about not stealing food off plates or in front of us, though- he's learned that lesson at least. I can leave him sitting on the bed next to a plate of whatever while I leave the room for a few minutes, and it'll be untouched when I return. Drinks are less safe, especially coffee.

                                                            2. Family of 3. We always sit down together to eat. Typical weeknight meal is a protein and a veg with a side starch. If I do a salad, we have that first. Otherwise, it is everything all at once. We plate our own food off of the stove or counter. The kitchen table is too small for any serving pieces or pots.

                                                              Weekends, if we are staying in, usually include an invited guest. I will do an appetizer with drinks. We will eat the meal in the dining room. Depending on the menu, I may put the food out in serving pieces or everyone plates their own in the kitchen. Dessert after the meal and we move to the kitchen in the winter (fireplace) or stay at the dining room table.

                                                              Friday nights I do a hearty appetizer course with cocktails or wine when we get settled in after work.

                                                              1. It's just the two of us and we eat at different times during the week since I'm at home all day and Himself doesn't come home until maybe 7.30pm or later, so to say the evening meal is 'served' would be stretching the facts a little :P

                                                                Since our house is too small for a dining table, I will eat from a plate in the armchair OR if the weather is good I will prepare myself a bento box to eat in the garden. When my husband comes home, he'll either help himself from what I've prepared and left on the stovetop, or he'll grab a ready-portioned frozen something or other that I made at the weekend. I do a lot of batch-cooking and freezing.

                                                                I do regret the lack of a proper dining table set up, though. Even a drop-leaf table wouldn't work - there simply isn't the space.

                                                                1. Just the 2 of us, and since we retired a few years back, mealtimes have become, shall we say, fluid. We've been known to eat a dinner portion at 2 p.m., then have a bowl of cereal at 6 p.m. I plate in the kitchen, cuts down on dishes. Even if we have a light lunch (which is getting earlier and earlier), dinner is lighter than prior decades, and it's getting earlier, too. Reminds me of the Seinfield episode where Jerry refused to go to his parent's choice of restaurant just 'cause the 4 p.m. meal was the Early Bird Special.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                    We too have exchanged meals, especially on the weekends...my wife grew up in South America, so she is comfortable swaping the meals...we find it much eiaser to have a large meal late afternoon and then to the theater, movies or concert on not an empty or too full stomach...but then this allows to stop afterwards at one of our favorite pastry shops for some desert...

                                                                    We both cook ,, some of the kids still live home and some nearby. It is not unusal for us to cook 10 nights in a row!!!but beleive me the kids are going to payback someday....if we are six or less , we fit into the kitchen....more the dining room . Mrs. Ph likes to plate when it is at the kitchen table and of course depending on the meal...(pizza, Arroz con pollo, pork ribs, etc. , family style)

                                                                    We try to make different veggies, salads and light soups, as an appetizer, so that if they want to eat light, and they don't fill up on bread and drinks (soft or hard) these are always plated.

                                                                    We are all about 5 pounds over weight, and all feel that we have to take it eazy at dinner time, although the left overs, which there are every night , goes with somebody for lunch the next day.

                                                                    Desert is rare

                                                                  2. Usually it's just me and hubs. Weekends for bfst and 1 night /week, Charlie our 85 y.o close family friend joins us. I generally plate up in the kitchen and we eat in the dining room. Salad, bread , main dish served all at once, Sometimes I bring the bread and salad out first if the boys are feeling peckish. Occasionally we have an ap...and always dessert. Homemade ice cream (from ax the street) over something I baked..just a little. :)

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                                                                    1. re: shaebones

                                                                      When the kids lived at home we ate at the dinner table family style every night. Now that there is just the two of us I cook, call "dinners ready". and we both fill our plates and sit in our recliners and watch the evening news. If it's something like steak that needs to be cut we eat at the dining table and watch tne news. Retirement is great!

                                                                      1. re: sharhamm

                                                                        Well, I'm sure glad to see that I'm not the only one who eats in a recliner! My roomie kind of looks at me like I'm some sort of freak...we don't share meals, and he has the DR table covered with so much junk that there is only enough room for one person anyway--who wants to look at that? I do just fine in the recliner, and there is a high enough table next to it if I'm having something that needs to be cut up...

                                                                        This thread has been so much fun to read, and reminded me of a favorite childhood meal. On Sunday afternoon we would always have "the big dinner", but come Sunday evening the parents would make pizza, which my sister and I enjoyed on a spread out blanket in the LR in front of the little portable TV, watching "The Wonderful World of Disney" while the parents watched whatever they wanted in the den...I don't know what we liked better, the pizza or the fact that we got to eat in the LR (which was never normally allowed)

                                                                    2. Growing up, my family always had dinners together (me, 3 brothers, 2 parents, grandparents from my mom's side) and it was always family style. The house I grew up in had the dining nook in the kitchen and we always ate there for regular daily meals. Those usually consisted of rice, meat dish with or without veggies, soup with the same veggies and/or meat, and occasionally a separate veggie dish. And leftovers from the night before, which was a different combo of meat and veggies and soup. Frequently had fish sauce on the side for dipping if the meat was boiled and sliced plain, but not if it was in a stir fry or dish with a braising liquid.

                                                                      We had a dining room that was rarely used, only if we had meals with extended family and we couldn't all fit into the kitchen. Then, the aunts and uncles who arrived first usually sat in the kitchen and helped with food prep and serving, and everyone else ate all over the house -- in the living room, family room, dining room, and on the stairs using their knees as a table. Those meals were much more elaborately prepared but served buffet style. No meals were ever plated or served as separate courses.

                                                                      Nowadays, I'm living alone so when I'm eating evening meals at home, I usually plate in the tiny kitchen then eat on my couch in front of the TV. I live and work in the same area so when I come home for lunch, I more frequently eat at my dining table while reading a magazine, checking my phone, or once in a while without any distraction. When the bf is over, we usually eat in front of the TV. Dessert, if we are having it, is the only thing that is served as a separate course, and it's usually ice cream.

                                                                      1. This has been so interesting and informative! Amazing to see little glimpses into others' dining habits.

                                                                        1. It's just Wifey and me for dinner most nights. Dinner is around the kitchen Island

                                                                          Usually one main course with a side or two. I usually plate our dinner as opposed to family style since it's easy to do and makes eating more enjoyable with a nice visual

                                                                          1. Wow, that depends so greatly on so many factors, that it would take a month to cite them all.

                                                                            In general terms, we have about four items per meal, and their serving depends on what they are.

                                                                            Other times, we host meals, where we might well have 10 courses, including cheese and dessert.

                                                                            No, I cannot do it - it just depends.


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                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              The OP did say "meals." I personally don't consider "10 courses, including cheese and dessert" a meal but rather a dinner party or have a misunderstood?

                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                OK, then tonight, we served a four-course meal, in plates, and took them to the lower deck to eat them.

                                                                                I had three wines to choose from, and each was sampled.

                                                                                Does that help?


                                                                            2. Growing up we did a combination of buffet from the stove top and pots and pans on the table. My grandmother was a serving-bowl person (well, serving-tupperware person and hoo boy those were complicated containers -- steam/drain inserts, lids, the whole shebang -- and in the classic 70s mustard yellow and avocado green!) but my mother did NOT inherit that tendency. :D My mother also still to this day has probably 60 hot pads and trivets.

                                                                              I live by myself, so I obviously just dish my own food up from the stove, but when I entertain I usually use my extremely motley collection of serving bowls and platters -- some inherited china, some Fiestaware, some boring Pyrex. I entertain pretty regularly but have never ever done "courses," unless you count nibbles when people are having their aperitifs while I finish dinner.

                                                                              1. It's just my husband & myself, so frankly, except for holidays/special occasions it's - "every man for himself" - aka serving ourselves from the kitchen. Sometimes I'll plate if whatever I'm making is easier/better doing it that way, but more times than not, we're serving ourselves.