In celebration of our Family Collection launching this week I want to talk Family Traditions around food!
My young family has a tradition which we hold very dear. Every week we always have ‘Favourite Time of the Week’. This is our chance to sit down together at the table and enjoy food. Obviously stemming from ‘Sunday roasts’ this has become a family time that is not specific to a day or a particular dish. Sometimes we invite others to join but mostly it is just us four. FTOTW, as it is known in text speak, started when my partner David would sit down to a lovely meal with us all around the table and say “this is my favourite time of the week”. It’s that simple and there’s nothing more to it, but it has become a weekly highlight and has huge benefits for us as a family and as individuals.
We sit down together and talk. As the kids have grown older and more articulate this has become a very important catch up time, which happens to also be very entertaining. Phones are pushed away, teddies are not allowed on the tables, giving us time to slow down and come together. We hear events of the day unfolding mouthful by mouthful. Sometimes we share secrets and worries, once fearfully held inside, now whispered in the safe family space. We also hear hilarious and unexpected anecdotes which, from our little babes, are the stuff family dreams are made of.
Like all kids, ours can be fussy when it comes to food so another benefit of FTOTW is that the kids feast like they never do with any other meal. If there is one constant it is that FTOTW is a meal you serve yourself from the array in front of you. We usually do stick to a roast dinner but not always. We tend to have a “happy chicken” (more on this next week) as the centre piece surrounded by roasties, parsnips, at least three more veggies and finally the all-important gravy. The invitation to dive in and fill your plate up with food they actually want seems to give them back their autonomy around food. Now, instead of arguments about eating greens, these have (sometimes not always) been replaced with who gets a leg and who gets a breast.
We learn about food together, new tastes are introduced and we talk about where they come from, why we eat them and what they do in our bodies. On one occasion I had taken the kids shopping and the supermarket was out of “happy chicken”, so my eldest daughter decided she would like to try mussels. Our FTOTW became a seafood adventure and she felt the achievement of being brave.
More and more we are talking about the provenance of food, why it’s so important to buy the best you can afford and why it’s not just about what you eat, but what it arrives in. My two are pretty well-versed in the anti-plastic movement, it’s hard to avoid since both their parents live and breathe BeeBee Wraps. I try to be careful not to vilify plastic, it’s still necessary, but it must be used responsibly. We certainly do not need to use single-use plastic when buying foods like cauliflower or carrots, but until the logistics of our current food system changes, cucumber in plastic is at least saving food waste.
FTOTW is our family’s modern tradition flowing from an older one of Sunday Roasts. It doesn’t need to be on any particular day or any specific food. Now it is a linchpin for family life, wonderful for instilling values and great to see tummies bulging at bathtime with good, healthy food. It’s so hard as a modern family with two working parents, and kids who have their own agenda, around the dinner table to get it right…or anywhere close.
Further to FTOTW, I’ve got a few tricks for making more-informed/more sustainable better choices for you and your family and in next week’s blog I’ll be diving into them. Plus, asking you what your life hacks are for feeding yourselves and your families whilst treading lightly on the planet….and staying sane!
What's your family's equivalent to FTOTW? Is it a long-standing tradition, passed down through generations, or a new one that you’ve formed with your own tribe? Please do share below in the comments :)