lifestyle

“When I think back on the happiest moments of my life, they all involve food.”

MasterFoods
Thanks to our brand partner, MasterFoods

Image: Wendy Stiles Photography.

As many reality TV montages confirm, food means far more than shovelling grub in your gob to fuel you through life, it draws people together to connect over salad and sausages.

For my family, sitting down for dinner together, no matter how simple the fare, creates a special snapshot of meaning in an otherwise plugged-in and hectic day.

Last week I was having a particularly stressful week trying to juggle long hours at work with raising two kids under four. I rang my husband to say that he needed to pick the kids up from childcare as I was struggling to complete an urgent task that would chain me to my desk long after my usual five o’clock dash for freedom.

importance of sharing a meal
The fondness for food runs in the family. Image: Supplied.

As I drove home, I did a mental stocktake of the contents of our fridge trying to visualise what I could cook for dinner without delaying the kids 7:30pm bedtime – cheese and ham omelette? Pasta with… cheese and ham?  As I dragged myself through the front door I was greeted with the smell of my husband’s signature (and singular) dish – spaghetti bolognese, a culinary treat he perfected as a cash poor uni student.

The kids were seated at the dinner table covered in red sauce and squealed an excited, “Mum!” as I sat down to join them. All of a sudden the stress of the day dissolved as my three-year-old explained the differences between a penguin and a dinosaur, because it’s clearly quite easy to get them mixed up.

After a week that had us racing through the motions of our crazy life, sharing that simple meal cooked with care and consideration filled me with a deep appreciation for my husband and my beautiful babies. Spag bol had never tasted so good, just ask the dog who was splattered with it courtesy of our 19-month-old.

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Masterfoods knows the value of connecting around the dinner table and this touching video they’ve created will inspire you to do the same. (Post continues after video).

Even our wedding five years ago was all about food and festivity. I was never going to be one of those brides who nibble on a canapé, I made that corseted gown earn its exorbitant price tag. Immigrating to Australia in my early 20s means that I seldom see my family and school friends.

The wedding brought us together around long banquet tables to laugh about the moments that led us to sharing such a significant meal.

We drank, we reminisced, we dug our forks into each other’s alternate drop meals and we laughed until champagne squirted out our noses (yes, I was a classy bride). I’ll always remember how we came together that night and had an absolute blast over salmon, steak and a $700 mudcake.

But the best memories aren’t always that extravagant. I also love to cook, something that was instilled in me by my maternal grandmother whose food was the reason I grew up with chafing thighs and a double chin. For most of my childhood she lived in a different town so the sweet chaos of her kitchen meant only one thing, holidays.

importance of sharing a meal
“The wedding brought us together around long banquet tables to laugh about the moments that led us to sharing such a significant meal.” Image via iStock.

After a long drive to her house, we would all sit down to enjoy a feast. I always insisted on sitting next to her and she would put her arm around me and plant a big kiss on my forehead. Then we’d talk about all the things I’d forgotten to mention over the phone – like which boy I had a crush on, who was kissing who on her favourite soapie and how I was (obviously) robbed of a gold medal at my last dance competition.

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My grandmother passed away too young, but the memories of her delicious dinners have continued to fill me with gratitude… Along with a strong sense of inadequacy when I burn the crackling.

There is something to be said for demonstrating love with food. When we moved out of our house before renovating, our sons were two and six months old. We found ourselves spending our last night in the house with no furniture (bar a mattress and a portacot), no plates and no hope of consuming anything other than takeaway.

importance of sharing a meal
Jacqui and her son. Image: Supplied.

That’s when the doorbell rang and a friend presented us with home cooked lasagna. As my babies slept in the corner of the empty living room, my husband and I sat on the floor eating lasagna off a napkin with a plastic fork and drinking wine out of a Thomas the Tank Engine cup.

We talked about all the special moments we had shared within those rundown walls – popping the champagne after plastering the sold sticker on the board out the front, getting back to reality after a six week-honeymoon in Europe, bringing our babies home from the hospital. It was a great way to farewell our first home and welcome a new chapter in our lives.

Sharing dinner with your loved ones is an everyday way of enriching life because the rewards go far beyond what is served on the plate. MasterFoods is encouraging all Australians to #MakeDinnertimeMatter by spend time with the people who matter most.  To get involved, go to the MasterFoods Facebook page and share your experience using #MakeDinnertimeMatter.

How will you #MakeDinnertimeMatter this week?