It can be so easy to hurtle through and consume at speed in order to make time for doing other stuff, but what if in doing so you're missing out on one of life's great but simple pleasures that costs little and can be enjoyed every day?
In this post I'll take you through 5 simple steps that you can introduce to your mealtimes today.
Often it's the most basic of activities - like an evening meal - that can be overlooked. It's time to start prioritising the everyday as a celebration too. Here’s how to get started – before eating your evening meal tonight, just take a moment to look at what’s on your plate. It’s not about making yourself feel guilty for all the advantages that most of us experience, but rather it’s a reminder that no matter what has gone wrong that day, no matter what stresses may lie in store for tomorrow, right now you are privileged enough to have a plate of food in front of you.
We don’t say grace in our house, but this is our own personal way of counting our blessings. Perhaps you’d like to say something? Giving thanks is a good place to start; leave it there if you like, or add a more personal touch if you’d prefer. It’s fantastic to try if you have children as it instills gratitude at an early age, forming it into a habit rather than a chore.
Now you’ve altered your initial approach to a plate full of food, it’s time to turn that everyday meal into a celebration. Here are 5 ways you can achieve this:
- Turn off all electronic devices (mobiles, laptops, TV etc.) and really focus on the moment. If you don’t like silence then a little music will add to the atmosphere, but nothing more.
- Light some candles. It takes only the striking of a match, but immediately lends a romantic, peaceful feel to the dinner table.
- Set the table (with whatever you like). Use a tablecloth, get out the place mats or fold napkins into pretty designs – all of these are such simple acts, but can really make a meal feel like something special.
- Gather the troops. Of course if you live alone this isn’t always an option, but if you live with your family, partner or friends, then eating together is a sure-fire way to really connect after a long day. Many choose to eat separately for ease, but in order to appreciate slow food you won’t want anyone thundering up the stairs or watching TV in the other room.
- Sit and enjoy a drink for a minute or two first. Again you’re only elongating the whole process by a short stretch of time, but it will give you chance to pause and take stock of any chaos left behind from your day before continuing with your meal.
Tonight aim to do just one of these things, and over the next week try them all out before selecting one night when you’ll try out all 5. I certainly noticed a difference when first following these steps, and it turned our mealtimes into something to treasure rather than rush through at speed.
Eleanor is obsessed with stories. She writes for a number of online spaces including This is Your Kingdom, edits Creative Countryside, curates #aseasonalyear and teaches at Chalk House. In addition, she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. You'll find her roving the fields of the Lincolnshire Wolds or planning her next rural adventure.