Two things this happened this week that got me thinking about the importance of preparing and sharing food.

I was speaking with one of my clients who is doing her best to make positive changes.  She works 6 days a week, is an amazing mother to her one and a half year old son, hustles to get to the gym several times a week and is trying to incorporate more balanced, healthy food into her diet.

As part of her unique 1-1 coaching with me, we did an exercise together called “The Circle of Life,” where she rated different areas of her life based on how fulfilled/satisfied she felt in each area. The areas where she felt most challenged were Relationships, Social Life, and Home Cooking. It came as no surprise to me, as her busy schedule meant that by the end of the day she was often too tired to think creatively about food, or to make plans with friends. When she and her husband did plan social activities, it was often dinner out with friends, and usually to restaurants that her friends chose, and not necessarily the healthiest options.

We brainstormed ideas together of how she could reasonably, within the schedule and demands of her life, start both cooking and socializing more.

I suggested potlucks, group dinners where everyone brings a dish or two, and shares the meals. I also suggested themed dinners, such as trying vegetarian dinners, or trying a raw food dinner, as her friends were not as health conscious as she is trying to be. Another option is everyone contributing ingredients, and preparing the meal together based on what ingredients are available.

A certain level of education and creativity may be required when your friends are new to this kind of thing, however it can be presented as an exciting challenge.

Preparing food, cooking and eating together is such an important part of so many cultures and traditions, and unfortunately in today’s busy world, this beautiful and nourishing medium for social connection gets lost to the hustle and bustle and isolation that many people have become accustomed to. 

A couple of nights ago a group of new and old friends who had all traveled to my town to surf a big south swell decided to organize a “family dinner” in celebration of each other.

It was decided that the meal would be cooked at my house, and then enjoyed at my neighbour’s. I eagerly jumped into coordinating the menu, delegating grocery lists, and organizing my team of “sous-chefs” with their various tasks of chopping, mixing, tasting, cooking and then carrying the food from one kitchen to another.

After a long bout of health challenges, it had been quite awhile since I had shared meal-making and eating. I had forgotten how much fun it can be, and what a wonderful way it is to connect with people.

The expression “many hands make light work” certainly ring true here, as the more hands the are to prep, cook and clean takes the pressure off the host.

Summer is also such a wonderful time for meal-sharing. The weather allows eating outdoors, and the body desires cooling foods with minimal prep and there is an abundance of fresh and local produce.

Consider different themes for potlucks and challenge your friends to try a raw meal, or a “salad bar” theme, or a veggie BBQ. Bonus points for making it a “super detox meal” and leaving out the alcohol… easing your friends and family into your decision to drink less alcohol can happen through the gradual introduction of concepts like this.

Creating a Facebook invite for your dinner can also be a great way to share ideas, and coordinate who is bringing what.

I’d love to hear about your adventures in summer social cooking and eating. Share your menu ideas here, including what yummy non-alcoholic bevvies are served, and how you got your friends and family involved!