Last year, as I became determined to cultivate intentional meal times, I came across Natasha’s blog. Instantly, I felt a connection and felt relief. I knew I had found someone who could pour out all of the wisdom on creating the meal times I wished for. As soon as I started to plan for the Intentional Living series, I knew Natasha had to be one of the mamas to share! I know you are all going to just adore Natasha’s tips!
I learned a valuable lesson after becoming a mom. Our meals couldn’t be left to chance anymore. Similarly, intentional hospitality, investing our lives in others, wouldn’t just happen without a plan.
Things got crazy when I became a mom, can I get an amen?! Stress would inevitably take over and we would scarf down our meals before rushing into the bedtime hustle without a second thought to cultivating relationships around the table. I spent far too many nights bouncing a baby on my hip and frantically trying to throw a complicated meal together – sitting down at the table with all my energy drained from stress instead of flowing onto those I shared a meal with (including my husband and kids). Can you relate to my experience?
As I assume many moms these days are, I was trying to simplify life, especially when it came to our meals.
I don’t want to reinvent the wheel every week with new recipes I have no idea if my family will like. I want to say goodbye to decision fatigue that overruns my brain. I want to spend those precious meal time hours pouring into my family, whether that looks like discipline and training (we have a 2 and 4 year old!), listening to my husband’s worries, or asking questions of new friends around our table.
Meals with three or four components went out and one-pot meals were in. I rarely make big fancy sides to go along with our main dish. Instead, I opt for roasted seasonal veggies that are cooked the exact same way. This way still makes meals interesting with the changing seasons. Is it the Spring season? Roasted asparagus it is. Fall? Roasted carrots and butternut squash. My method for roasted veggies is chopped, coated in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a sprinkle of chili powder. Roast at 425 F for 25 minutes. Simple, quick clean up and heaven in every bite! Read more about eating seasonally with a seasonal recipe rotation here.
I know this is a great time for some families to dive into a devotion or read a story out of The Jesus Storybook Bible, but I have always found this so stressful. During meal times, I am also trying to eat, and find it awkward to eat and read or share something of value. My kids run off from the table before they are even finished most days, so to keep them around to listen to a story is impossible! Because of this, we just use meal times to rest and be together, and my goal is to include our 4 year old in as much conversation as possible, so she doesn’t get bored. I think that’s an easy thing to forget to do, so we try to be intentional with it. As far as planned devotions go, we do them all after breakfast during our “morning basket” time.
We schedule all the things that matter to us – date nights, kids events, doctors appointments…yet why don’t we schedule hospitality in advance? Hospitality is simply the friendly welcome of strangers. As we know from scripture we are to practice hospitality with people within and outside the church alike. Being intentional with meal times for me as a mom means that we bring ministry into our home during the mundane tasks of the day – including our meal times. We are always going to be eating a meal. Therefore, why not make ministering to others 10x easier and invite them into something already happening daily. We set aside a certain night of the week for hospitality so we know that it will definitely happen. This keeps us accountable and makes sure that the most important things happen – loving others!
Aren’t these tips so good? If you have any tips for intentional meal times, I would love for you to share them in the comments below!