Shared Meals Matter Blog

Aug 30th

Labor Day twist: Using a workplace “project plan” to keep you invested (and connected) at home!

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American workers are notorious for their hard work and dedication. This weekend we celebrate the national holiday of Labor Day – dedicated to celebrating the “economic achievements of American workers”, and to “pay tribute to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.” At our workplace, we show up with a smile, eager to be cooperative and partner with others, willingly share ideas, and spend oodles of time and energy discussing the company’s priorities. All of this effort is about taking care of the company’s well-being and gaining company equity.

What are our home priorities?  What about the well-being of our selves and our families? How do we build personal equity?

Oftentimes, after an exhausting work day our tendency is to collapse on the couch from exhaustion, grumble at our spouse or kids at the mere suggestion that we do anything that requires planting two feet on the ground or make conversation with someone. Family members individually microwave a pizza or grab a box of crackers and a jar of peanut butter for dinner, grab our smartphones or devices to “tap-tap-tap” and either sit in the same room in silence, or scatter like mice to our rooms to recover from the day.  There’s little of that “workplace” cooperation, partnership, and discussion about what priorities we have as a couple, or family.

Is this really how we want to spend our time at home?

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I’ve often wondered – how do we transfer the kind of civil, value-driven, cooperative behavior we have from the office to our personal lives?

What about our investment in My Personal Life, Inc.?

While I certainly appreciate that we have to work to pay our bills and take care of our families (few of us are born into riches), it can be damaging and demotivating to our development that we become so focused on the work aspect of our lives that we have nothing left in our personal reserves.  Why wait to go bankrupt?

We all have the natural inspiration to take care of ourselves and build a joyful and connected home life, but we need a little help in planning these personal goals.  And before you think I’m suggesting piling on more “to do”, trust that planning activities in your home will give you a giant kiss back saving you time, reducing aggravation and resentment, and best of all accomplishing something good for yourself and those you love.

Many of us use “project plans” at the office to work towards goals.

So why not use this type of project plan to help us at home?

Having studied and written about the benefits of ritual in the home, and specifically, a shared-meal ritual, I’m convinced that a shared-meal ritual is a practice we simply can’t afford to lose. It keeps us connected in a way that nothing else can. Sharing a meal once a day with someone offers many powerful benefits. **Read more about these benefits in my book, The Shared-Meal Revolution**

Using a commonly-used “project plan” model from the workplace, I created a Shared-Meal Project Plan template below [excerpt from “The Shared-Meal Revolution”.]

Begin by reading through the template below and ask yourself:

  • Which parts of this plan appeal to me?
  • Which elements make sense for my lifestyle?
  • Will such a plan help me to develop a shared-meal plan (or better organize my current routine)?

 

Then, modify this sample plan as needed to fit your needs. This plan can work for you if you have a family, a partner, or are single.  Use one or more of the elements — since it’s your plan, there are no rules!

Notebook

The Shared-Meal Revolution’s “Project Plan” template:

Vision statement: Describes the guiding image of your shared-meal plan’s success.
Example: Our vision is to develop opportunities for life balance, joy, and meaningful connection through sharing meals with family or friends.

Mission statement: Describes the objectives of your shared-meal plan.
Example: We will share one meal a day (weekday dinners, weekend breakfasts, Sunday brunch) with others (family, friends, neighbors).

Values: Describes the characteristics that underlie your vision.
Example: We represent the values of interpersonal connection, simplicity, and balance through sharing meals with others.

Short-term objective: Describes one or more immediate goals.
Example: (a) We will plan the meals in advance, each of us assuming a helpful role; (b) During the meals we will have a tech-free, distraction-free zone so we can be fully present with one another.

Long-term objective: Describes the goals which take longer to achieve, and are wider in scope than the short-term objective.
Example: (a) My family or dining partners will shop together and choose ingredients to keep our meals nutritious; (b) Once we have a ritual that feels natural and is working smoothly, we’ll invite others to join us (neighbors, friends).

Action plan: Describes a set of specific steps to help you achieve your shared-meal goals.
Example: (a) My dining partners will decide upon and commit to the frequency of our plan (e.g., we’ll share weeknight meals together, Saturday breakfast and Sunday brunch); (b) we’ll each agree to pitch in (e.g., one person will shop, another will cook, and another will set/clear the table, etc.); and (c) we’ll commit to a 3 month trial period.

Strategy evaluation: Describes how you will assess if your plan is on course.
Example: On Sunday of each week, we will do a “check-in” to discuss which parts of our plan are working, and which parts are not (e.g., Do you need to evaluate if too many extracurricular activities are getting in the way of your plan?)

Performance measurement: Describes how you will measure if your plan is working.
Example: Once a month, we will have a “roundtable” discussion to see if everyone is satisfied with their role in the plan.

Corrective action: Describes how you will change methods and performance to get back on course for fulfilling your goals.
Example: At our monthly meeting, we will discuss what roles will be shifted to keep everyone engaged; we’ll agree upon “next steps” (e.g., revising the time we are eating together).

FamilyMealsRelaxed

BONUS! You can use this type of “project plan” for organizing any aspect of your home life, in addition to your shared-meal plan!

How will you know if your project plan for sharing meals is working? You should feel three things: relaxed, in control, and enjoying the experience.

Best of all…you’ll be gaining equity in your personal life.

Why not end the labor of each work week feeling less like a work machine and more like a human being.

If you’d like to read more about how to keep connection with those you love through a daily shared meal, click here for information about my book “The Shared-Meal Revolution” and website. Let’s connect!  I’d love to hear how your “project plan” is working for you, and any new ideas you discover.  Write me with questions, comments or just to say Hi at carol@shared-meals.com.

 

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Aug 26th

Get Healthy Family Meals Back on Track and Save your Sanity with this FREE Back to School Survival Kit!

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Looking for ways to add more healthy foods into your family’s daily diet? With the new school year, many parents want to start fresh by encouraging healthy eating habits at home. Are you one of them?

Sign up for easy-to-follow weekly family meal plans from The Six O’Clock Scramble, complete with easy and healthy dinner recipes and a grocery list, and receive a free Back-to-School Survival kit. Eating healthy has never been this easy for the whole family!

Free with any Six O’Clock Scramble membership, the Back-to-School survival kit  includes:

  • Quick and Easy Breakfasts: A printable chart with dozens of healthy ideas for your Scramble to School (or Work)
  • 10 Healthy Smoothie Recipes: a Mini-eCookbook with10 delicious recipes – and a Build-Your-Own-Smoothie Chart so you (and your kids) can create your own favorites.
  • Healthy School Lunches & Snacks Chart: 50 Ideas in an easy Mix and Match chart that you can post on the fridge or family board.
  • The School Night Scramble: 10 Meals in 15 minutes or less: a Mini-eCookbook with top-rated complete family dinners that you can get on the table in a flash!

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Click here The Six O’Clock Scramble has a two week free trial so you can see for yourself how it gets your healthy family meals back on track and saves your sanity!

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Aug 19th

Sometimes it pays to play with your food

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I’m simply amazed at the wide range of cooking and baking artistry I see on the internet. I’m also darn lucky that some friends of mine can cook up a storm. We share meals and giggle with delight at just how darn innovative their cooking treasures are.

Have you seen this post on the internet?  It really showcases the creative vision of a Brazilian mother trying to introduce new types of food to her daughter. Click here to see what one mother did to help her child be attracted to a variety of food.  I just love these designs!  As the article says, the mother is a Dentist by trade, which might explain the fine detail in her work.

Frozen

When I was writing my book The Shared-Meal Revolution, I spent some time considering how many ways sharing meals helps us be creative.

Time involved in shared-meal activities can help you…

  • Develop your creative skills by changing one or two ingredients in a recipe to create something new (how about adding curry and coconut milk to a traditional chili?)
  • Look around at your dining space and think of ways you can represent the people who dine there (one of my favorite things to do when my kids were young was to hang pictures or display crafts they created)
  • Let your imagination run wild with creative storytelling building (one person starts a story, “Once upon a time there was a ____” and then the next person builds, “Who went to the ______, and so on. You could make it fun by using only one letter of the alphabet — alligator….army…etc.)
  • Build on your improvisational and problem-solving skills (lightly dressing a salad by shaking it up in a big sealed bag instead of tossing it in a bowl)
  • Experiment with design concepts when decorating your dining space (try dressing a table in monochromatic tones, all different shades of blue for example, for a dramatic look)

 

Tending to the every day details are what helps to make a shared-meal ritual fun. We may not have all (or any) of the skills of someone who is truly artistic, but I’m willing to bet that we all have something creative to offer some aspect of our shared-meal practice.  And when we share of our selves, it makes the experience that much more meaningful.  This idea reminds me of when of my favorite quotes:

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”  (Mother Theresa)

If you’d like to learn more about how to make the most of your shared-meal ritual, please visit my website for information and to read about my book.  Please write to me at carol@shared-meals.com any time with questions you may have about your shared-meal ritual, or just to share a story or a picture of some fabulous times around the table.

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Aug 12th

What are you waiting for?

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Like many, my heart is broken over the passing of Robin Williams.

There are no more words that can be said that haven’t already been said a gillion times over the last couple of days about his talent and passion.

As I’ve been struggling to get out of my ‘funk’ since this news arrived, I’ve been looking for a simple statement to sum up my feelings and to pay tribute to Mr. Williams.

Here it is:

passion

 

Let’s resist temptation to spend time on things we “should” be doing…

and instead do things that truly matter to us.

Things that make our skin feel tingly with excitement…

Things that showcase our personal talents…

Things that make us feel vibrant…

spending time with people we love…

and being the best version of ourselves.

What are you waiting for?  

 

If you’d like to learn more about why I feel Shared Meals Matter, please visit my website

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