Shared Meals Matter Blog

Oct 15th

5 easy ways to create workplace “power lunches”

Posted by with No Comments

Sharing meals is not just about traditional families.  We create families in many environments. And since many people live alone, a great way to get their one daily shared meal is through the relationships they nurture at the office.

I’ve got a few ideas that will help you use the opportunity of a shared lunch (or breakfast) to help keep you refreshed during the day, and feeling connected with other human beings. Aren’t you done with that routine of eating a sandwich with one hand while you answer emails in your office cave? Who wants to spend 8+ hours in the office feeling isolated and glued to their computer and phones?

desk

Here are some tips to help you refresh and “power up” your happiness during the workday.

1. Invite someone new to share a meal with you.
You don’t have to go to lunch with the same people every day.  It’s refreshing to get a break from the faces of people in your immediate department. Why not invite someone you met at a meeting last week, or someone who works in a part of the company that has intrigued you, or even a former colleague who works nearby?

2. Stick to your plans
It’s easy to let a work issue bump your lunch plans, and that’s going to happen, but reserve the cancellations happen only when they are truly urgent.

3. Take turns choosing where you’ll go for lunch
Taking turns helps keep the ritual fun and fresh. When someone else picks, you’re more likely to discover a new place you never knew has the best pad thai in town. Sometimes when it’s my turn,  I’ll opt for getting outdoors on a patio or at a nearby park. Since you want to maximize the time you have outdoors,  plan ahead and bring a salad or sandwiches.  Keep a blanket  in the trunk of your car so no one’s work clothes get grass stains. You might get comments like, “We don’t have enough time for a picnic” but if you plan ahead, you’ll be soaking in sunshine in less time than you might have been  fighting in traffic to get to a restaurant.

Businesspeople Having Lunch in Park

4. Put your smartphones away
It’s so tempting to want to monitor work emails, but if something is that urgent that you can’t keep off your phone for an hour,  then reschedule lunch for a different day, or have a shared breakfast before your work day and priorities heat up.

coworkerslunch

5. Resist the shop talk
How many times have you been to lunch where someone is relentlessly gossiping, complaining, and talking shop? I’m all for helping people bounce off ideas and work through challenges, but just be careful that it doesn’t turn into a complaint-fest. The point of a shared meal is to keep connection, nurture relationships, and welcome some joy into your day.

Follow these tips and soon you’ll be enjoying a brand new kind of “power lunch”.

* * * *

If you’d like to learn more about how shared meals can help you reclaim life balance and preserve connection with others, visit my website or pick up my book The Shared-Meal Revolution by clicking here.

Read More
Oct 7th

Restaurant meal experiences have you bummed out? Here are 10 tips to better dining out

Posted by with No Comments

My son John and I have a Sunday morning tradition of brunch out at a local restaurant.  I meal plan for the week early on Sunday morning and tend to do a lot of errands, so at this point in our lives, this time works best for our 1:1 meal together. Last week we ate at a chain restaurant (which we rarely do, but I was craving certain lettuce wrapped Asian tacos).  We left a little later than usual, so it wasn’t the more ‘chill’ environment we had experienced on a Sunday morning. The restaurant was crowded, hot, loud with TVs blaring, tables were unusually close together, and the service was not great (it took almost 20 minutes for the waiter to acknowledge we were seated; our order was wrong, then when we asked for our bill, it took another 20 minutes and we were given another customer’s bill along with their credit card)  These are experiences we all have from time to time and it’s understandable that mistakes happen, but I’ve been noticing lately that the conditions for sharing meals out has been on the decline.

Sharing meals out at a restaurants is part of my shared-meal plan, but it’s not a daily event.

In part, that’s because it’s not always easy to find a restaurant that is hospitable to guests taking their time, fully relaxing, and having the environment that is best for shared-meal conversations.  This is particularly true of chain restaurants which I try to avoid (because of the questionable quality of processed ingredients, and the high sugar-fat-salt ratio often used in the food.)

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are dining out:

diningout

1. Go at a time when it’s less likely to be crowded
-call the restaurant in advance and ask about their busy peaks; even a half hour earlier or later might change your dining experience for the better

2. Ask to be seated in a place where you can relax and feel comfortable; if tables are ridiculously close together, politely point that out to the host or manager.
-it’s unnerving to try to avoid accidentally bumping elbows with the people to your sides. If we speak up about too-tight tables, owners will get the message we don’t want to be packed in like sardines.

3. If a host tries to seat you near the Restrooms, ask for another table
-this will encourage owners to remove tables near the restrooms…(ew…gross…who’s with me on this?)

4. If there’s a TV blaring (unfortunately more and more common), ask the manager to lower the volume or turn it off (exceptions for sports bars/events, of course)
-it’s a reasonable request that if no one is listening to the TV that it be turned to a volume to allow you to socialize with your guests, and if it can’t, ask for a table further away from the TV

5. Slow down the ordering process to set a relaxed pace to your meal
-resist giving your entire order (drinks, appetizers, entrees, etc.) the moment you sit down.  See what you feel like ordering as your meal progresses

6. Don’t be shy about asking questions about how a dish is prepared, or the type of ingredients used
-if you have special dietary restrictions such as low salt, dairy or gluten free…or if you want to use a smaller amount of oil in the preparation of your vegetables, it will only enhance your dining experience if you address these upon ordering

7. Tip your waiter well for good service, and request seating in their area the next time you visit that restaurant
-waitstaff work very hard and many make most of their pay from tips. So tip them well for good service.  If there’s a problem with your meal or your bill, it might not be due to the waiter. Let the manager know in a respectful tone what your experience has been or what the problem is.

8. Review your bill for accuracy; nobody likes these kinds of surprises
-Recently a friend was out with her family and added a $60 tip on their bill. However, upon arriving home, they discovered that the tip had already been included, so they accidentally double-tipped. The restaurant hadn’t published that the tip would be included in the bill, nor had they been informed

9. Talk it up with your friends about new places they’ve discovered
-word of mouth is the best way to hear about places with good service, quality ingredients, and a relaxing environment. Support restaurants that staff with enough personnel too. It’s sad to see cooks and waitstaff running around like their heads are spinning off because the restaurant owner doesn’t want to pay for enough staff.  I’m personally willing to pay a little more for a restaurant who staffs with enough employees. How about you?

10. Ditch the tech devices at the table (my favorite tip)
-
it doesn’t make for an enjoyable meal out if you hear a chorus of dings and special sound effects; enjoy having uninterrupted time together

If you’d like to read more about how to create the best shared-meal experiences, in and out of your home, sign up for my blog Shared Meals Matter by clicking here. 

I‘d love to hear from you!  Please contact me at carol@shared-meals.com to ask me any questions or share your meal experiences.

Read More
Sep 30th

Work Burnout: Why it’s GOOD News (really) and What You Can Do to Reduce It!

Posted by with No Comments

Did you know that according to a 2013 Gallup report only 30 percent of American workers, and 13 percent of employees worldwide, feel engaged at work?  These are pretty small numbers, don’t you think?

Burnout is on the rise.  According to the article Why You Hate Work (NY Times), this burnout is happening because of the demand on our time, and the ever-presence of technology giving us 24/7 access to email (how many people are still on work email at home well until bedtime?)

What the research shows is that when employees are not having their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs met, they are getting burnt out.  Makes sense, right?

womanoverworked

The way people feel on the job directly impacts the company’s bottom line (profits).  Having a sea of drained, under-performing employees is causing waves.

 

Research shows employers are taking notice and are more open to making changes.

 

That’s why I say this burnout problem is good news!

It’s been more common in the past decade that workplaces offer concierge-like benefits to make the workplace more inviting (free, healthy food, game rooms, afternoon cookies and coffee, etc.) While it’s great to see employers making efforts to create a better workplace environment, these amenities are steps towards integrating our work / personal / leisure lives but don’t directly address the problem or offer actual work-life balance.

One idea in the article that stuck out to me was the idea of providing nap rooms. To me, if employers are feeling that nap rooms are a solution to helping us feeling more engaged in the workplace, we are in serious trouble!

Further, this is not what I want to see in my co-workers every day:

nap

Here’s what we might want to say to our employer:

“Dear Employer:

We want workplace flexibility.

We want to be able to create some boundaries so we can go home at reasonable times, enjoy time with our friends and family without work distractions, share a meal, do a variety of other fun activities, and then get rest before the next work day.

We’re ready to talk with you about ways you can help us feel less burned out on the job so we can be happy, healthy, perform at our best and together help the company make lots of money.”

Sincerely,

Your Employees

P.S. Hold the Nap Room!”

Lots of companies have written policies which seem to support workplace flexibility (such as working from home occasionally, or working an alternate shift to accommodate a child care schedule) but often there’s not support to effect this flexibility.

Working beyond 40 hours a week and with limited opportunity to take breaks is also reported as wreaking havoc on the well-being of workers. (I know I feel spent when this has happened to me. Don’t you?) Pushing out work emails no matter when or where you are doesn’t help us be healthy employees.

womanworkingfrom home

Work hours bleeding into our mornings before we start work (perhaps interrupting a shared-meal with our kids before they start their day), through lunchtime (another time to bond with a co-worker over a healthy lunch) and in the evenings and weekends prevent us from having a meaningful break (not to mention miss having dinner with our families or friends).

The amount of time (the opportunity to be present) and the quality of that time at home (not being distracted by work/technology) offers us the chance to reclaim ourselves, to feel refreshed, renewed, relaxed.  When people don’t have the chance to have this time (truly) away from the office activities it creates resentment, too.

As you know, I’m a strong advocate of the need to preserve interpersonal connection and reclaiming life balance through sharing meals with others — with the goal of 1 shared-meal a day.

 

To achieve this, we need to address obstacles, including work ones, that are keeping us from being able to share meals.

Some might think it’s radical to suggest that we take the lead and talk with our employers about our need to create some boundaries at work. I suggest to you that employers are wanting to hear from us! Research is showing them that it makes good business sense (dollars and cents) to listen and to work with us towards a win-win solution.

If your work hours and schedule have prevented you from taking care of your basic needs, consider meeting with your manager about your need to reduce burnout and better balance your work and home life.

Here are a few actions you might want to take before you meet, and a few things to consider:

1. Check to see if your company has a written policy regarding work hours. Know going into the meeting what the policies are and ask for a work schedule that might be better for your lifestyle and well-being.

2. Ask your supervisor to support you in creating a boundary for the end of the workday, and then stick to it.  Also, don’t put undue pressure on yourself — promise yourself you’ll resist the temptation to ‘finish just one more thing’ before you leave. Acknowledge there may be necessary exceptions, but have a plan.

motherdaughters

3. Program a reminder to sound fifteen minutes before you plan to leave and begin wrapping up on time. To keep yourself committed, ask those waiting for you at home to start preparing dinner, or establish a time and place for standing restaurant reservations with a friend.

4. Prepare (and then bring to the meeting with your supervisor) a wish list on a piece of paper that you’ll refer to during your meeting. Start with the minimum requirements in your pursuit of work-life balance–for example, to arrive to work at 8:30am instead of 8:00am so you can enjoy a shared breakfast with your toddler, or to have the freedom to defer work email responses received after 7pm until the next work day, or to enjoy paid time off without any work interruptions.

5. Include any considerations that will help you to stay committed to your employer, such as earning a one-month paid sabbatical after 10 years of service. Remember, this is a wish list…be creative!

6. Research companies who have active policies that support the work-life balance of their employees. A good employer will have a vested interest in the well-being of their employees and will stay progressive in their policies so they don’t lose you to a competitor.

friendsharingmeal

Important Note!

Keep in mind that your wishes must be reasonable. Your employer cannot consider requests which interfere with business operations or your ability to do your job with the excellence for which you are paid. I’m not suggesting you approach your supervisor like a bull in a china shop but rather identify what flexible work arrangements might be available to you and have a respectful conversation with your supervisor to gain his/her support. Some workplaces are more open to a dialogue than others, so make your suggestions accordingly.

If all of this sounds too scary (and with some employers, it might be) at a minimum, research the work-life balance and flexibility options your company offers and identify the ones of personal value.  Keep those in mind for the next opportunity to talk with your supervisor, and don’t give up!

* * *

If you’d like to learn more about how to create a shared-meal plan for your family or friends, please visit my site for resources, including my book, The Shared-Meal Revolution.

Please write me at carol@shared-meals.com if you have any questions related to work-life balance suggestions, or any questions about shared meals in general!  I’d love to hear from you and am always happy to help.

Read More
Sep 23rd

Happiness? It’s (way) easier than you think…

Posted by with No Comments

Happiness. Most of us say that’s what we’re after.  And we slave away doing (a million things a day) and moving (through our busy schedules), seeking to fill ourselves up on that elusive feeling of happiness.

But do we spend a lot of time planning how to get more happy?

An interesting article at Time.com offers info that can make you think twice about making a plan for more happiness: “Can You Really Predict What Will Make You Happy” (Eric Barker).

Here are the top five factors that a 2000+ person survey said might predict gaining more happiness:

  1. Better health
  2. More time with friends
  3. More time with family
  4. More traveling
  5. Earning double what I do now

 

Does this list surprise you?  I was surprised (but glad) to see that 5. “earning double” followed better health and socializing with friends and family.  It seems that we spend a lot of time trying to “earn double” but when it comes right down to it, earning more money doesn’t inherently make us happier (as this survey, and other research shows).

A quote by Daniel Gilbert (Harvard researcher of Happiness) offers this insight:

“We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends, and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”

happypeople

What are we doing to plan for more happy time? 

[I've got a great idea. And it's already an activity we need to do every day just to keep living.]

Eat. With someone else.

And when you make a shared-meal plan, you are literally taking care, each and every day, to incorporate several of the top factors to help you feel happier.

  • You can create better health (#1 on the list above) by sharing nutritious meals (studies show that kids eat better when they’re eating with their family members).
  • You can plan more time with friends and family (#s 2 & 3 above) through a daily shared-meal ritual (according to the time article “having a better social life can be worth as much as an additional $131,232 a year”).

Bonnie

If you’re curious how to create a shared-meal plan, read my book The Shared-Meal Revolution and join me in The Shared-Meal Revolution!  If you have any questions, or want to share how shared meals make you happy, please write me at carol@shared-meals.com — I’d love to hear from you…

Read More
Sep 16th

What Every Tech Executive Parent Knows – Set Limits (p.s. even Steve Jobs’ kids were low-tech!)

Posted by with No Comments

According to New York Times writer Nick Bilton, who  interviewed several well-known tech executives about their families’ tech habits, many tech execs put specific  limits on their kids’ screen time Bilton spoke with with prominent tech leaders including Steve Jobs (of Apple notoriety), Evan Williams (a founder of Twitter and Blogger) and Chris Anderson (formerly with Wired and now running 3D Robotics). As Bilton’s New York Times article explains, these tech execs knew that prolonged screen time could have many adverse effects including becoming addicted to these devices.

techdevices

Some of the boundaries that these wise executives cited were setting allowances — 30 minutes a day– or no devices at all during the week (except for homework), delaying their kids having their own smartphones until the age of 14 (according to this article, non-tech parents may give in to smartphones as early as 8 years old).  One executive made a distinction on approving the use of devices for “creating” vs. “consuming” (I agree with this!)

One common strategy all tech exec parents agreed upon was banning screens from the bedroom.

Are you considering setting limits for your kids devices? Do you wonder how your kids will use this extra time?

homemusic

If so, I have a few suggestions:

  • Keep books (soft/hardcover) in the house and consider book clubs and related activities
  • Start a home-based craft project such as letting your kids decorate your dining space (framing school or camp art projects or drawings, or using their favorite colors)
  • Start field day games in your yard or neighborhood
  • Use every day household items to explore music activities
  • Get your kids involved in your family’s shared-meal plan (invite them to plan menus, help pick out groceries, help with age-appropriate meal prep in the kitchen or make a music CD for background music during your meals together; and of course, keep your shared-meal time “tech free”!)

Do you think these tech gurus would ban tech devices from their dining tables, too?

As someone who is an advocate for a 1x daily shared meal, I was pleased to hear Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson report this:

 “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer.”

techfree1

Activities related to a daily shared-meal plan can help your kids develop some wonderful social and creative skills, to name just a couple of benefits. Would you like help creating a shared-meal plan that suits your family? If so,  click here to read about my book, and join The Shared-Meal Revolution!

Read More
Sep 9th

Shared-meal rituals–not just for families–helping to keep couples out of divorce court

Posted by with No Comments

Ever look up at the end of a long work week and realize you feel detached from your spouse or partner?

Post work-week blur do you wonder, “How’s he or she doing? What was his or her week like?”

Womanlaptop

You sigh, admitting to yourself that you have absolutely no idea.

Our workplace tasks seem to grow like weeds that keep popping up.
To be in command of the details of our work lives, we extend our workdays into our home…so we can try to keep the weeds from taking over.
We engage in rituals at home like obsessively checking emails on our smartphones, checking/leaving voice messages, signing into our laptops to finish Excel spreadsheets, doing Skype work conferences.
Meanwhile our spouse or partner is at home in another room doing the same thing.
Darn. Those pesky weeds are winning.
We’re missing connection with the people who matter most.

How can we tend to the garden of our relationships?

A recent Time.com article about the science of what makes marriages work reports that what keeps marriages going strong is…

...really knowing each other,
…being in contact with the details and facts of each other’s lives,
…and keeping updated on changes taking place in our spouse or partner’s lives, including their feelings.

Without this type of time together, experiencing each other, communicating, being….
We’ll lose touch.
We’ll become strangers.
We’ll grow apart.

To keep a marriage or relationship strong, we have to take the time to actively care for each other. 

To nourish the bond between us.

We need to find a way to connect.

Daily.

gardenheart

My advice?

Create (or renew) a shared-meal ritual. Plan to share 1 meal a day with the people you love.

Turn off the devices and turn on your attention–giving and getting–the details about each other.

Give each other nourishment and sunshine your relationship needs via your meals together.

Celebrate your next anniversary with something you’ve created from your very own garden...with what else? A beautiful display of Forget-Me-Nots…

forgetmenotflowers

If you’d like to keep your marriage (and all your relationships) strong, share a meal daily!  Click here to learn about my  book The Shared-Meal Revolution.

SIGN UP for my blog  (see the orange Subscribe to “Shared Meals Matter” button in the upper right corner) to get helpful information about sharing meals delivered free to your in-box once a week.

Read More
Sep 4th

Home-cooked meals — a modern day burden? I object! {Please read my response!}

Posted by with No Comments

There’s an article on Slate.com that argues we should stop “idealizing” home-cooked family dinners. This article poked fun at this tradition as being romanticized ‘from ’50s era sitcoms’ and argued that home-cooked family dinners have no place in our modern lifestyles.  The author (Amanda Marcotte) cites that “time pressures, tradeoffs to save money, and the burden of pleasing others” leaves mothers feeling stressed, and guilty, and that they can’t achieve the ideal of being a good mother.  The article also offered that problems like whiny, picky eaters around our tables takes all the fun, joy, and satisfaction out of the experience.

Well, that’s certainly a sour mouthful, isn’t it?

Here’s how I feel –

While I recognize that it is true we all have time pressures, and a cultural influence to do everything efficiently (just because technology tells us we can), and some of us have ‘selective’ tastes as to what we’ll eat, this ritual is no longer just about mothers having their plates overflowing with all the responsibilities of shopping, cooking, presenting, serving, and cleaning up after the meal.  That time is long gone!

I wrote my book, “The Shared-Meal Revolution“, to offer compelling information as to exactly why we should help people preserve this ritual.  We must have connection with another human being every day. The kind of connection that makes us feel alive. And, there are many areas of development such as physical, social, psychological, creative, academic, cultural/ethnic, and spiritual where we can benefit from the simple act of sharing a meal together.

I want to share with everyone what I learned through my research about sharing meals.  I have answers for these common obstacles.

This ritual is not just about mothers and families (although it’s especially important for children to have routines and structure in their lives, such as a shared-meal ritual).  Sharing a meal once a day is something valuable for each and every one of us, no matter if we are single, married, or have a family. What better activity is there to help us cope with our hyper-scheduled, uber-networked lifestyles?

Frontcover

Having a daily shared-meal experience is more relevant than ever.

So how do we help each other get a meal on the table once a day?

Give yourself permission to ask for help.

Develop a collaborative shared-meal plan.

 

Here’s how we start:

  • Gather family members, friends, people you want to share meals with.
  • Discuss your desire to create a shared-meal plan together.
  • Everyone chooses an aspect of the meal they would like to handle (plan the menu, shop for groceries, set/decorate the dining space, prepare food, cook, clean-up, etc.)
  • With everyone doing a little to pitch-in, it removes the burden from one person – it’s an equal opportunity activity!
  • Everyone’s involvement builds commitment to the experience.
  • Relax, smile, enjoy…and connect.
  • Repeat daily! (breakfast, lunch, dinner…whatever works for you!)

It’s OK to ask for help.

In fact, it’s healthy to do so.

***If you believe in the power of a daily shared-meal with people you love, join The Shared-Meal Revolution! Please visit my website  and check out my book for valuable information and resources to help you create your very own shared-meal plan. *** 

Read More
Aug 30th

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

Posted by with No Comments

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?

Familyondevices

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.

 

Read More
Aug 26th

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

Posted by with 1 Comment

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!

BacktoSchoollogo1

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!

Read More
Aug 19th

Sometimes it pays to play with your food

Posted by with No Comments

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.

Read More