Why Americans Don’t Eat Dinner Together Any More

When we were first married, having people over for dinner made us feel so grown up. Homemade spaghetti, french bread, a nice Caesar salad.  Or a lasagna and buttery french bread. Or burgers hot off the grill with crusty fries. And dessert. Always dessert.  Our favorite to serve has always been strawberry shortcake with thick and buttery biscuits.  Or ice cream. LOTS of ice cream. We felt so grown up, gathered with friends, bragging about favorite recipes.

With such events on the decline, Mike became intentional about inviting the neighbors over.  They said yes to dinner at our place sometime next week.  Now comes the panic.  What do you feed people these days?  Have you tried it recently?  It’s not as easy as it used to be.

Think it about it. Even an extended family gathering consists of the following confusion:

“Oh, thank you, but no bread for me.  I’m low carb.”
“Cool. I don’t eat bread either. I’m gluten free.”
“You guys have what ever you want, but just so you know, I’m counting carbs.”
“Well, I’m counting calories.”
“Pass the meat … I’m Paleo …need meat!”
“Like cavemen right?  Cool! Are you trying to be like those Geiko cavemen guys?”

“I’m weight watchers … everything in moderation.  Do you have a food scale?
“Wait, what?  There’s no dessert!  I’ve been saving points for Mom’s Red Velvet Cake all week!”
“You know about all the dye in that cake, right?”
“Who brought the diet soda?  That stuff will kill you!
“ALL soda will kill you.”
“Well, I’m addicted to it, you’re not going to talk me out of it.”

“Chocolate.  I just want chocolate.”
“Dad’s allergic to chocolate.  I don’t keep it in the house any more.”
“Well you can all give ME what you don’t want to eat.  I’m trying to gain muscle weight. Can I have a class of milk?”
“Gross, are you drinking WHOLE milk.”
“Don’t tell me you drink that filmy stuff they call milk but tastes like backwash.”
“No milk, guys.  It’s not part of Paleo.”

“Hey, is this salad stuff in the fridge organic?”
“Does it matter?”
“What do you MEAN, does it matter?  Do you all want us to be slowly poisoned and suffer an anguishing, miserable death caused by pesticides?”

“I’m hungry. Can’t we just make some spaghetti or something?”
“Not if it’s that cheap, sugary stuff in a jar. There’s no nutritional stuff in that stuff.”
“No Parmesan on it … I can’t eat dairy.”
“Wait! I can’t eat pasta … no grains, remember!”
“How ‘bout gluten free pasta?”
“It’s still carbs. No grains remember?”
“Okay … so let’s barbecue some chicken on the grill.”
“Sounds good, but no BBQ sauce.”
“Are you kidding me?!  What good is grilled chicken without Dad’s ‘fall-on-your-face-and-cry-like-a-little-girl-until-your-eyes-fall-out-because-it’s-so-hot” sauce.”
“Are we having roasted corn with the chicken, because it’s going to kill me if everyone else eats it with butter?”
“I don’t care what kind of Paleo-free, gluten-counting, dinosaur-bait diet you are on!  Would somebody please just make me some dinner?!”

Shouldn’t have written this … now I’m really truly stressed out … better check in with the neighbors and find out which type of American diet they subscribe too.  Then, next time we want to do something social with someone … maybe it will be bowling.


8 thoughts on “Why Americans Don’t Eat Dinner Together Any More

  1. I think the real problem comes from an attitude of entitlement: “Everyone is responsible to do things exactly the way I like. It’s all about Meeeee!” Obviously if there is a bona fide food allergy or intolerance, accommodations need to be made. But someone who just wants to drop a few pounds should probably just avoid the foods that give them problems, bring something diet-friendly to share, or set the diet aside for one evening and graciously eat what is being served.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. You bring up some good, common sense points. And truly, almost everyone I know abides by such suggestions. I was just having fun with the idea of how varied our eating styles have become in America. Mostly, I am laughing at myself and our family. Thanks for reading.

  2. I think people are reluctant to accept your invitation for dinner these days. All that stuff about people’s food preferences is really true. However, your friends may also afraid that you expect to be invited to their homes and many don’t have a clue when it comes to cooking for guests. They probably don’t cook for themselves. Fast foods or takeout is the way to go these days.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Louise. I’m finding that one solution is pot lucks … then everyone is assured of something they will/can eat. Plus, it gives those with different food habits a chance to try something that is normally not on the radar. As a result, I’ve found that there are many gluten free foods that I actually enjoy.

  3. This is a stressful post, isn’t it? It seems that food, much like everything else we manage to create for ourselves, is slowly killing us. I generally like being human, but if I could change one thing, I think I might choose to not have to eat ever again.

    1. It is something isn’t it that almost every item we tend to decide is good or healthy eventually ends up becoming suspect? For example, for awhile “soy” was good for us; now it’s bad. Whole grains once good … now bad. I’m sticking to the “most things” in moderation plan. (I do think any food label that reads like my high school chem book should be avoided.) Unfortunately I like food to much to agree with you on not wanting to eat at all. 🙂 Makes me happy to think that one of the events on the agenda for heaven is a great big banquet. Now that will be a good and stress-free event.

  4. That’s so funny. My family is so different. We all just rely on my dad to cook and we don’t complain haha. I suppose it’s a good thing to be part of a different family!

    Also, on a different point, would you be able to review something I recently wrote Mrs. Ausmus? I’d love some criticism. You can find my blog by clicking on my name. Thanks!


    1. Your family is wise to not challenge the cook! At our house, that is one way to end up fending for yourself. 🙂 I will check out your post …

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