Growing up my mother served meals on individual plates. She knew just how much to give everyone. We never felt deprived. The food was good and we knew we could always ask for more. My father would complain that my mother gave him too much, but he ate it all and managed to stay slim.
When I got married, I wanted to serve individually but my husband objected. He felt I was controlling how much he ate, and was used to “family style” meals from his home. I never understood that term, because the only time we used serving bowls was when we had guests and ate in the dining room. But I guess the term came about because restaurants serve meals on plates.
Over the years I have continued to find advantages to preparing a plate for each person:
- Education. Children are more likely to try new things if they are on their plates.
- Convenience. Cleanup takes less time and there are no serving dishes to wash.
- Health. No extra food on the table means less overeating, and meals can be more balanced.
- Safety. Leftovers stay warm and covered on the stove, preventing spoilage.
- Economy. The server can decide which foods—particularly leftovers from another meal— need to get used up first.
An alternative is to put the main course on individual plates, and side dishes or a vegetable plate in the middle.
When I served a guest I had brought home from college for a few days, my mother complained that I put too much food on her plate. My friend mentioned it to me too, privately. But at the end of the visit, she said that she felt she had lost weight. My mother taught me that you’re not always doing people a favor by pushing extra food on them.
Which way of serving works best for your family? Have you ever tried to change the way you serve meals?
(photo by theedinburghblog.co.uk)