After years of serving family style (serving bowls in the middle of the table, and allowing family members to serve themselves) I recently had to pre plate dinner for my family. I roasted a chicken and made green beans and Alexia brand oven fries. We wanted to eat outside, and it was getting late and I didn’t want to drag everything outside in bowls and pots. Just wanted three plates.
Here’s the thing. It felt weird, and off, and I didn’t like it. How could I know how many fries vs. beans I might want in that moment, much less two other people who were active at varying degrees, or ate more or less earlier in the day. Or my child, maybe getting ready for a growth spurt, or coming down with a cold…
The notion that I would know what and how much their bodies wanted or needed felt totally unnatural.
Some nights, for example, when I make pork chops, I enjoy a small amount, cutting an inch strip off the chop and savoring other things. Other nights, I really feel like, and eat two whole chops if there is enough.
Plus, by the time we got everything plated, the chicken carved etc., the beans and fries were cold. I forgot that serving at the table generally means hotter food, and I really like my food hot!
If serving family style is new to you, I imagine it will feel as weird, and unnatural and out of control to allow yourself and others to eat what they are hungry for from what is on the table. If you’re getting the hang with serving family style, and seeing the rewards in terms of behaviors and variety, know that not too far from now this will feel like your new norm.
Some families I work with who have small kitchens, or small tables, or can’t handle one more dish to wash without a dishwasher figure out how to pre plate and make it work for them. But I am grateful and plan on continuing our family-style meals! Here is an old post on getting started with family-style serving, and addressing barriers.
What do you think? Are you pre-plating? How is that working? Family style?