How to be a Happier Family by Changing One Meal

I like us to eat together as a family at the weekend. It doesn’t happen often during the week. With a toddler and a moody 6 year old believe me the family meal isn’t always domestic bliss! But I think it’s worth making the effort to bring the family together for dinner as often as we can.

A few weeks ago, we made a culinary leap from having a hot meal on a Saturday evening to a cold one. Yes, in Winter. A sort of indoor picnic. A low-maintenance smorgasbord, if you will. It’s a bit of a revelation, so I wanted to share.

By converting to a cold supper every Saturday we have decreased the tension and stress around at least one of our family meals so that we can genuinely share a hygge moment together. And I believe that’s what family life should really be all about.

Re-thinking the Family Meal 

To be honest I was getting a little frustrated at having to be organised on a Saturday afternoon. I wanted to be out walking in the woods or curled up in front of a film with the kids. Having to start planning, shopping and prepping for the family meal at 3 o’clock so that we could eat together at 5 just seemed like a chore. So some days I would be getting food on the table at nearer 7 which meant overtired kids who weren’t even hungry anymore as I’d plied them with snacks for the last hour. Other days I would give up entirely and do them fishfingers and beans (again) and we’d end up getting a take away after they’d gone to bed (again).

Then I read this book called Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg and was inspired to introduce a cold supper once a week. The concept is easy, you just take the food that you would ordinarily have in your fridge, out of your fridge and put it on the table. There is basically no preparation time. Unless you don’t have any food in your fridge. In which case you probably need to go to the shop (boo). This allows you to spend more time enjoying your day (or picking raisins out of the carpet).

What to include in your cold supper

I would normally include some of the following:

Fruits and Vegetables: Apple, grapes, cucumber, carrot sticks, sweet peppers, raisins, cherry tomatoes, olives.

Protein: Ham, cheese, hummus, cooked chicken, smoked/cooked salmon, smoked mackerel. All of these are bought in packets from supermarket ready to eat.

Carbs: Bread. Whatever you have, or something from the bakery if you get a chance to nip out in the morning. If you don’t have any bread then packets of oatcakes, crackers or crispbreads etc will do great.

Treats: It is Saturday night after all. Hubby is partial to a rollmop and I adore avocado and goats cheese. So sometimes I’ll add these in. Plain crisps for the kids is a real treat for them for dinner.

Benefits of your new way of eating

Kids pick up on your vibes, and this way of eating is so relaxed that you’ll be oozing with chill, and hygge will come naturally. No more dinner time stress, wondering what to cook and whether they’ll like (or even touch) it. No more getting stuck in a rut and wheeling out the same old tired dishes. No more frustration over spending hours preparing a meal that just isn’t appreciated. No more moody Mummy and Daddy! You can spend more time doing what you like and less time faffing over the dinner (and the washing up!).

Not only will the kids pick up on your relaxed hygge vibe but they will also be disproportionately happy to be having a picnic for dinner. Trust me! They are in charge, they can pick at what they like without moaning about having to eat certain things, and best of all they can eat with their hands!

I really hope this is one family hygge moment a week that will nourish us in more ways than one. And if you feel like giving it a go, I’d love to hear how you get on and what you decide to bring to the table.