*Feedly Readers: This post accidentally went live for about three minutes last week - while I was able to easily remove it from the blog and most readers, Feedly doesn't continuously sync with the blog, so you actually got to see it. It was in draft form, and I've republished it today after editing it for clarity. Thanks for understanding!
A few months ago, Mike and I were getting ready to have about four or five couples over to our house for dinner and I was planning on making chicken for the main dish. As I was grocery shopping, I found myself heading over to the freezer section to grab one of those huge bags of frozen chicken breasts, I'm sure you've seen them, they come with like seven huge chicken breasts, each individually frozen for about seven bucks, five dollars on a super good day? As I reached in to grab a bag, I suddenly felt convicted. I don't buy this chicken for Mike and I to eat on a normal basis, so why would I serve this to my guests?
I used to purchase these chicken breasts all the time, but as Mike and I committed to a more healthy diet, one of our conclusions is that we'd like to try to purchase organic, free range chicken and grass fed beef. While we have yet to be totally convinced of the benefits of organic produce - or should I say the negatives of eating traditionally grown produce, we have been convinced of the benefits of organic meats. That day in the grocery store, I was convicted of my selfishness to save a few (okay, a lot) bucks by not buying organic since we were trying to feed a whole bunch of people.
I put the chicken back, came home that night and talked with Mike that night about what happened.
You see, in our family, we've committed to creating a healthy culture of food in our home, and we also want to be a family that is committed to hospitality. We hope to foster an "open door-type policy," and we are intentional about frequently hosting people in our home. And we see these two things as very interconnected: It's a simple fact that people want to come over to places that have good food!
As Mike and I discussed what happened at the grocery store that day, we did talk quite a bit about the money, and "whether it was worth it." After all, after it's all cooked and eaten, our guests will likely have no idea whether or not it was organic. But ultimately, we kept coming back saying, YES. It is worth it. Because we want to feed our guests better than we feed ourselves.
As I've mentioned before, on a typical week night, you'll usually find Mike and I eating a "one dish wonder" - a fairly simple meal that's just one main dish. No bread, no true "side dish," no dessert, no apps, no drinks, just water. It's simple, easy and healthy. But when we have guests over, I strive to create a well rounded meal (and I think most people do this): sometimes an app, definitely a main, two sides, usually homemade bread, lots of drinks and always, always, always dessert.
That's not to say everything's always homemade - the key to being comfortable with an "open door policy" is not having to always have a perfect meal. We keep nice cheeses, fruit and nuts on hand for easy apps, and you'd better believe Trader Joe's has provided the much of a meal before. And if all else fails? Pizza will always save the day.
But for us, food has become a way that we can minister to and serve other people. We've chosen to say that hosting people is a priority for us. And we've also chosen to say that eating well is a priority to us. Which means, sometimes I sacrifice my clothing budget or Mike sacrifices his "guy gadget" budget so that we can feed others well. We eat simply and typically vegetarian on a regular basis, so we can go all out when we have people over.
I know that some people may not be able to afford to serve 10 people organic meat, and I honestly do not think there is anything inherently wrong with that at all. But what I would challenge you to do it is to think of ways that you can creatively feed your guests well - and yes, better than you feed yourself. Maybe it's just making a few more dishes than normal, maybe it's making a special cocktail (or mocktail) for the evening, or maybe it's just trying to make that cheesecake that has one too many steps for you to try it up until now. And don't be afraid of the potluck! It takes so much pressure off and I love seeing what my friends come up with when we each make a dish, plus it's a great way to get new recipes.
It does take planning, effort - and money - to host people, but these days, too many people use those things as excuses to not do it at all. And in reality, that's really sad! Nobody cares if the main course is a bit burned, or the side didn't come together. Just an excuse eat more bread, right? If you come over to my house, you'd better be ready to put on an apron and help me figure out if the meat is done or put the finishing touches on the dessert. It's not about being perfectly pulled together and serving a four course meal, it's about bonding over something we all enjoy: food.
Serving good food and hosting people in your home takes practice. And the only way to get practice is to actually do it. So go, call your friends and have them over this week - and make some memories over wholesome, healthy, delicious food that you put just a little extra time into simply because you want to feed your guest better than yourself.
psst. This is the last post in the "Food for Thought" series. Please let me know if you'd like me to cover any other topics, otherwise, onward and forward!
Like this post? Here's the others in this series.
Food For Thought: Misunderstandings & Baby Steps
Food For Thought: My Transformation
Food for Thought: Finding & Making Great Recipes
Food for Thought: Meal Planning Made Easy
Food for Thought: Why You Should Make Homemade Bread - It's Not Nearly As Hard As You Think!