You Don’t Have To Make It, You Just Have To Make It Happen
Updated: Nov 10
When God prompted me to leave full-time ministry at the age of 62, I knew that one of the first things I’d like to do is reinstate Sunday dinners. My goal was simple: provide a soft place to land for our family every Sunday after they finished a long day of serving. Since our family numbers 18 when everyone is present, I knew this would take some strategies to keep it in our budget and to keep my marriage happy. Going back to my days working full time and trying to have a family dinner most nights, my motto then was “You don’t have to make it, you just have to make it happen.” So I offer these practical tips in case they are helpful to other families or anyone trying to create family memories on a budget:
Table Settings: We always use paper plates and plastic cutlery, purchased in bulk from Costco. (I try to set the adult table with fresh flowers and Charger plates) but using disposables saves major dishwashing and the grands are able to clear their own table.
Drinks: I buy plastic cups at Target for $0.50 and write the children’s names on each one in Sharpie. This keeps them from using up hundreds of disposable cups and has also been helpful to contain germs. Crystal Light Lemonade and water is ready in a pitcher for the grandkids. As they get older, the teens know where the soda water is kept.
Rotating Menu: We use 8 menus that suit our dietary needs (two in the family are gf/df) and simply rotate the meals every week. I text the family thread each Saturday with the upcoming meal, so they don’t duplicate by accident the day before. (Taco bar is great, but not if you’re having it two days in a row.)
Meal Choices: mine are affordable, healthy-ish, and feeds our tribe, but I’ve added a few staples that help: Hawaiian rolls for the hungry grandsons when a meal is light; ice cream in the freezer is an easy dessert one of the teens can serve; kale-bagged salad is a staple for those who might be fasting one food group or another.
Meal Prep: most meals can be prepped the day before and put into the oven with the timer before we leave for church. In the winter, chili and soups are great for slow cookers (I now have two) but we shift to lighter meals in the summer months.
Birthdays: we celebrate birthdays when they are upcoming, and the birthday boy or girl gets their choice of desserts. Most of the younger ones are happy with a cookie cake, but their tastes age as they do and I’m happy to fill their requests.
Everyone is welcome! there are times as they get older when we only have 14 of 18. Likewise, I try to have extra cups and plenty of food because when they bring friends, we end up with 20+! My favorite text comes from a grand who says “Nonny, can I bring a friend to Sunday lunch?”
Are there times when I wish the meal was more of a culinary delight and less predictable? Yes. But predictability leads to consistency, which is more important to me than a five-star entree. I want our home to be a soft place to land, where time around the table is more valued than what is on the table. ‘Making it happen’ allows us to gather around the table almost every week and I wouldn’t trade that time with our tribe for anything.
Hoping that one or more of these tips will help you make it happen as well.