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When Did You Eat Your Meals Growing Up--How About Now? Preferences?

It's 11am EST and I'm eating a garden salad, happily.

When I was young, my dad worked rotating shifts as a civilian aircraft mechanic employed by the USAF. I was/am an only child.

About 60% of his shifts were from 7-3. My mom would get up at 4:45, put on a pot of coffee and make a hot breakfast for us every morning so that dad could shave/shower/eat and make the 90 minute drive to Portsmouth, NH to begin work at 7PM. He got home at 4PM, and we ate supper after he washed up...usually around 4:15or so. Then he and my mom would retire with coffee to the living room to read the paper, watch the local news, the national news, a couple of tv shows and maybe have a snack of crackers and peanut butter (he loved Royal Lunch milk lunch crackers) before then turned in around 10 or 11 (I was tucked in at 7:30P until 4th grade, when I got to stay up til 8:30/9 for Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley, etc).

So, our mealtimes were entirely dictated by my dad's work schedule. When with relatives in Quebec (mom's side), dinner was at 8PM or so. When my dad's relatives visited from Italy, same thing, a (much) later dinner. In our little family, though, dinner was at 4:15.

Now I'm the adult and the meal maker in the family, and my schedule (like many of your own) is nuts. I'm up and out of the house most mornings before 5 for my commute, and work four nightsat job #2 until 10:30, so the leisurely supper time routine is out. I miss that, and try to do it as much as I can on the weekend...and I have to admit, I like an earlier (5p or so) dinner more than a late one.

How about you....what was mealtime like growing up? How about now?

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  1. Then: 7:30am, noon, 6pm.
    Now: when I'm hungry. :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Francis

      I'm with John. I grew up eating at the common times, now I eat whenever I'm hungry.

    2. Growing up: When my mom said so.

      Now: When I say so.

      1. Growing up:
        Breakfast 7am
        Lunch depended on the school schedule, anytime between 10:27 and 1:17
        Supper 7pm

        Breakfast 5:30am
        Lunch-occasionally (about 1:30pm)
        Supper at home 6:30 (to meet dsughter's schedule), if at a restaurant 7:45 PM

        weekends are the same

        1. Also an only child. Dad worked long hours, mom was in college at night and I was involved with sports after school so we all rolled home at different times and feed ourselves out of the freezer. Dad was always the last one home and mom and I would, more often then not, join him at the table to chatter about the day as he ate his dinner around 9pm.

          Now - married with one child. We eat dinner between 7-8pm depending on the child's practice schedule. We all sit down together.

          1. Then: 7:30 breakfast, noonish lunch, 5:30 - 6:30 dinner.

            Now coffee at 6:00, juice and maybe some yogurt at 8:00 while I prepare food for my 20 year old parrot; lunch about noon, salad or leftovers; dinner between 6:00 - 6:30; old parrot goes to bed at 7-7:30 ;)

            4 Replies
            1. re: OCEllen

              This post absolutely made my day. May your parrot have many more healthy years. PS Whenever possible, I cook for my dog.

              1. re: pinehurst

                Thank you! My birds eat fresh veggies every day so some prep time is involved!

              2. re: OCEllen

                Adorable. I have to admit, I feel guilty as all hell if I eat breakfast before my elderly cat (21 - everyone comes out to see her every time we go to the vet). What sorts of veggies does your parrot like? Just so I know. We have those wild green parrots here in Pasadena and I always wonder, what are they living on?

                For post relevance - I wake up starving, so I eat breakfast whenever I wake up - 8,9, 10? Used to be more rigid when I didn't work from home. Lunch whenever my stomache grumbles again, usually around 4 hours later, tea time at 4 (just tea and maybe a biscuit or cheese), and then dinner usually around 8 unless I'm cooking something really complicated which might take it closer to 9.

                When I was a kid, the times we ate somehow didn't matter. Morning-ish, noon-ish, when-it-got-dark-ish. I suppose I always knew there would be food, eventually. I remember being hungry, and I remember helping my mum prepare dinner, but there wasn't the attendant anxiety (however small it is) of it being my responsibility to ensure that everyone gets fed. I have no idea how my mum decided what to make for dinner every night, for instance. She never asked me or my father. But boy she was a wonderful cook.

                1. re: khh1138

                  My parrot likes (and gets), red bell pepper strips, mixed salad greens, little cooked carrots, broccoli, the stems split, is a favorite, and Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into strips, are another favorite.
                  Here in Orange the wild parrots this time of year seem to looking for Magnolia fruit/seeds, my next door neighbors have two trees that were feasted on last week! In the next few weeks they will be eating another neighbor's pecans! I know they eat fruits/seeds of some palms. I see them in Sycamores but I'm not sure if they are eating or just hanging out! I had hopes that they might come down and close and have some figs from my tree that is in a pot by our pool, just too shy.

              3. Growing up never really ate breakfast because mom and dad was usually out of the door by 630 at the latest. Depending on what grade I was in at the time, we would either be at grandma's until the school van came to pick us up or at the bus stop no later then 645 or 7 if we wanted to make it to school on time. Dinner was always at 630 every night except Saturday and Sunday. And as I got older, depending on what day of the week I went to Catechism class, I always ate dinner after I got home which was around 8. But when we first moved to NC, dinner was sometimes as late as 930 since we sometimes waited for both mom and dad to come home from the restaurant to eat dinner as a family.

                Now depending on what my schedule is when I get home, then I can eat dinner as early as 630 or as late as 930 if I am not hungry. But I am definitely use to the odd dinner times.

                1. Then: 7:00am, 3pm, 9pm
                  Now: n/a, 12.30pm, 8pm

                  1. Then: I rarely ate breakfast on school days, lunch with school schedule, then a major afterschool snack at home and dinner 7:30 or 8 usually at a restaurant. I HATE eating that late now!

                    Now: Breakfast 7, lunch noon, but I eat biggest 'meal' around 4 pm and sugar free treats all night until bed. All of my meals are pretty small, though, and really low calorie.

                    I should note I was 200 + pounds growing up but about 100 now, so I believe my body shouldn't eat dinner so late, now skip breakfast!

                    1. As a kid: around 6:30-7 (b/4 school); noon-ish (depends when I was scheduled for lunch at school); 4:30-5:00 (when Dad got home from work)

                      Now: 6-7:30 AM (depends on my gym schedule); 11-12:30 (depends on my class schedule and if I've eaten an earlier breakfast); 5-6 PM (shortly after I get home from work)

                      The above is for normal weekdays. Weekends are a bit different--have to account for my weekly farmer's market visit and my running/rowing schedule, as well as whether I'm going out for dinner with someone else.

                      Rarely snack, so no snack times.

                      1. Growing up in Germany, we always ate the main meal at noon time as it was the custom. Evening was usually sandwiches/cold cuts. Immigrating to the US, Americans ate/eat their main meal/Dinner in the evening. I liked that, especially on weekends eating the main meal in the evening was a lot more practical, it left the whole day open for other activities. I had no problem switching immediately.
                        Nowadays we are retired and we both prefer a combined Lunch and Dinner and eat around 4:30 pm.

                        1. Growing up:

                          Breakfast: around 9:30 on weekends for the whole family, and everyone for himself during the week. If I could choke down something (hated breakfast, generally), right before the school bus came.
                          Lunch: somewhere after noon and before 1:00.
                          Dinner: between 6:15 and 6:45, soon after Dad got home from work, and depending on when Mom said everything was ready.


                          Breakfast: as soon as I get up, which varies. sometimes 6:00 a.m., sometimes 9:00 a.m.
                          Lunch: any time between 11:30 and 2:00.
                          Dinner: 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

                          The only real difference in my meal-times isn't so much a matter of "when," but "how." I used to hate breakfast and I ate more in the evenings. Now I don't eat for at least 5 hours before I go to sleep, so I wake up hungry and eat a healthy breakfast. Also, I eat far less at lunch now than I did as a kid.

                          1. I most miss the leisurely breakfast...to enjoy that now, I'd need to be up at 4AM or before, so something had to give and it was that pace.

                            Also miss the smells of breakfast. Our house was a tiny (5 rooms) one floor ranch, and the smell of bacon and coffee would waft right down the hall to my door....especially miss it when the weather turns cooler.

                            1. Typically...

                              Growing up:
                              Breakfast - ~7a, before I left for school.
                              Lunch - 11a-12p, whenever they served cafeteria lunch.
                              Dinner - 6-7p

                              Now, I eat when I prefer, which most usually breaks down to:
                              Breakfast - None
                              Lunch - 1:30-2:30p
                              Dinner - 8:30-11p

                              1. Growing up 5:30 on the dot, whether Dad was home or not. When I lived alone around 8pm and usually very simple (lunch is still my favourite meal)
                                Now 4:30 or 5 or 6 or never. Why? My son's hockey and Tae kwon do schedule. The never comes in when my husband grabs him just as I'm finishing cooking and says " We don't have time for that"

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: dianne0712

                                  I imagine hockey schedules/practice can be early morning, too! One of the things I most miss about being a "grown up" is the leisurely pace of my breakfasts and dinners is gone. There seemed to be more time for food prep/enjoyment in the 60's/70's/80's...

                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                    It's strange, isn't it? What in the world happened? I know people who don't cook at all anymore. Is it the explosion of kids' activities? I will say, as a child of the 70s/80s, no one I knew had the programmed schedule of the kids I know these days. I knew exactly one boy growing up who was in club soccer, and that's because he was extraordinarily talented and went on to play pro in Europe for a short stint. I went to piano lessons one day a week after school for one hour, as did one other girl in my class. I knew one ballerina. And I went to a fancy-schmancy private school - the parents in my school were certainly the "driven" type. But they were definitely not driving us kids all over town to activities. But they *were* all at home experimenting with Julia Child and Paul Prudhomme. My mum was one of the few working mums, but she definitely cooked every night, and she loved to cook, and cooked well.

                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                      Thank God, not with this programme! Usually the younger the child the earlier th game or practice, but this one is a super-cool out-of-the-box training run by the player development coach of the LA Kings. He has a tight schedule flying back and forth from LA. To Ontario, so we benefit by the rigid times. The league was all over the plzce and changed on a dime. You coukdn't plan.