A big part of enjoying meals has nothing at all to do with your recipe or whether the food comes out perfectly. Here are 5 little things you can do to create an unforgettable dinner!
- Light a candle.
Use candles to create an atmosphere that makes you excited to eat! I used to work at a place that would spray a scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies right outside the bakery. Naturally, once you smell that you have to take a peek inside and drool over the cookies. It just gets you ready to enjoy what you’re about to eat. Before I start baking, I like to light a Banana Nut or Hazelnut candle, something that is complimentary to what I am making. Before grilling, I burn a Riding Lawnmower candle that smells like cut grass and makes you think of summer fun. Holiday candles work well with comfort food because they put you in the mindset to get into comfy pajamas and tuck into something warm and filling.
- Break out the finer dinnerware.
Every now and then, use your good stuff. I remember getting so excited as a kid when my mom would serve regular punch in a fancy goblet with dinner. It was just a regular day, but somehow the meal immediately felt special and I was excited to eat! Besides maximizing the cost per use that you get out of these items, it reminds you that every meal is something to be enjoyed.
- Serve an appetizer.
This is a bit of unexpected fun that serves a variety of practical purposes. I don’t usually eat appetizers unless I am at a restaurant or a party, so it’s unusual to be served one before dinner and I’m immediately impressed with whatever is coming next. This is a good way to get more vegetables into a meal without putting them on the dinner plate. It encourages others to linger near the kitchen, or wherever you place it, and chat about the day. Also, it buys you time to finish up dinner without anyone getting in your way because they’re STAAAARVING from the second they walk in the door. I like to set out something simple like baby carrots and a tub of horseradish hummus, mini sweet peppers stuffed with ham salad, some cubes of various cheeses, or fruit skewers sprinkled with lavender sugar —nothing that I have to cook.
- Add variety to your dinner plate.
Having a variety of things on your dinner plate forces you to slow down and pay attention to what you are eating, instead of just horking down a slab of lasagna. It’s also visually interesting. It doesn’t have to be expensive of labor intensive. You can achieve this by serving corn and peas as a side instead of just one. Cube a chicken breast and serve it with shrimp, instead of serving a whole chicken breast per person. Slice some tomatoes or cucumbers and put them on the plate with a sprinkle of salt and pepper when you’re serving dishes without sauces, like baked chicken.
- Add descriptions to your menu plan.
If you menu plan, add descriptions and put it on your fridge. When you swing by the fridge in morning, you will not only quickly know if anything needs to be taken out to defrost, but you and everyone else who sees it will get excited about dinner. Use words that tantalize, like “yummy” or “glazed” or “golden”. Descriptions can influence how we experience food. Just look at the descriptions on restaurant menus! Forget about “Baked chicken with asparagus and rolls.” No. “Crispy, oven-fried chicken with steamed lemon asparagus and golden brown country rolls.” Same plate of food, but I know which one I’d be rushing home to eat! Have fun with it. It’s only going on your fridge. Medieval Times used to call their tomato soup “dragon tail soup” and their roasted chicken “baby dragon.” Ha ha ha!
I hope you’ve found this helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for how to make meal time more enjoyable!