You Need to Know these 4 Ways to Connect Over a Meal

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If you take a moment to recall the most memorable moments of your life, how many of them involved sharing a meal with others?

My guess is that it was quite a few!

The problem these days is that we are sharing less and less meals together:

“New research finds 46 percent of adult eating occasions are undertaken alone.” (Data by the Hartman Group).

We need to remember that breaking bread is one of the most natural ways we can connect with others. Here are a few ways that you can help to keep the tradition alive.

1. Set Aside Time for Family Meals

Now that we have three young children, I am reminded of the importance of family meals every single night. Our whole family juggles a busy schedule (even the four year old) and dinner time is the one part of the day when we sit down together.

It is our one chance to catchup and discuss what’s been happening in each of our days. Finding the time to have a meaningful talk with our kids is hard enough at the best of times. Trying to pin down a 7 year old to ask him questions about his school day is even harder.

“How was school?”


“What did you do today?”

“I can’t remember.”

“You can’t remember? You just got home an hour ago!”

That’s a pretty typical conversation.

Sharing a meal together at least gives parents a fighting chance. Even though the kids might not be forthcoming with information on a typical night, you do experience the odd occurrence where the mood strikes them and they start chatting away.

Your son or daughter might tell you about something out of the ordinary that happened at school that day or they might complain about not getting outside during break because of the weather. Either way, they are opening up and sharing a part of their day with you.

If you are not sitting down together on a regular basis, there is even less chance you’ll hear about their day. Even on those days when your son just “can’t remember” what happened a few hours ago, it is still nice to just sit and enjoy each other’s company.

Not to mention the fact that when everyone is eating it’s also a chance to enjoy a brief moment of peace and quiet!

2. Treasure Meals with Lifelong Friends

We recently met up with friends that we hadn’t seen in 5 years. What was the first thing that we did? We had a BBQ of course! It was a summer night and a meal outside in the sun was the perfect way to catchup with lifelong friends.

Despite not seeing each other for years, we were chatting away like time hadn’t skipped a beat. Sitting down to eat together brings old friends together like nothing else.

The BBQ was also a chance for our kids to meet for the first time. Of course they rushed through their dinner so they could get back to playing together in the backyard. That was fine with the adults though since it gave us the chance to finish our food in peace and watch over them as they played.

Watching your kids play with friends outside on a summer evening after some brilliant food has to be one one of life’s greatest pleasures.

3. Try Sharing a Meal with a New Friend

A few months ago, we went away on a weekend trip with some new friends. The first thing we did was find a nice restaurant in the city. Lucky for us, they came prepared with a recommendation and that led us down a tiny lane and into the perfect Italian restaurant.

The food was amazing and the conversation flowed from the moment we sat down. Within a couple hours after arriving on the train, we all felt like we had known each other for years.

If you ever want to get to know someone in a short amount of time, then grab a bite to eat together. You tend to share your true self when you are eating. In fact, it is almost impossible to not be yourself when you are eating a large plate of pasta.

4. Bring a Meal to Someone in Need

If someone in your life is having a hard time, then one of the kindest things you can do for them is to bring them a home cooked meal. Even better, you could stay and share it with them.

Asking someone how they are doing in a five minute chat is always a nice gesture, but it can’t compete with sitting down to eat together.

Dinner conversations at someone’s house tend to meander (in a good way) as you hear about their life. They might start talking about their children one minute and then jump up from the table the next minute to show you some recent photos. Then the conversation might wind around to a random story about their wacky neighbours.

These are the type of memorable conversations you get when you spend quality time together. A meal not only gives you the chance to discuss their recent issues or worries, but it also gives you the excuse to celebrate life!

Share the burdens of their world and then share some stories. There is no better remedy than a home cooked dinner filled with laughs.

Remember that Breaking Bread Means CONNECTION

The world today is moving faster than ever and everyone is too busy. Slow down and reward yourself by sharing a meal with friends and family:

  • Stake your claim on dinner time with the family and guard it at all costs.
  • Put appointments in your calendar to eat with friends. Invite them to your place or go out to a nice restaurant.
  • Catch up over lunch with someone that is in need or might be feeling lonely. Better yet, offer to bring food to their home. Spend time with them. Let them know that you care enough to listen to their lives.

In the book “Tuesdays with Morrie”, Mitch brings his old professor food since it reminds him of the times when they would eat lunch together at college. It was after these first visits that Morrie’s wife explained that he was too ill to eat the food Mitch had brought:

“Morrie can’t eat most of this food. It’s too hard for him to swallow. He has to eat soft things and liquid drinks now.”

But he never said anything, I said.

Charlotte smiled. “He doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings. I just wanted to help in some way. I mean, I just wanted to bring him something …

“You are bringing him something. He looks forward to your visits. He talks about having to do this project with you, how he has to concentrate and put the time aside. I think it’s giving him a good sense of purpose …”

Remember that sitting down to eat with others is about more than just the food. You share a meal to connect with the person that is sitting across the table.