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Mealtime Customs. Family Meals. Eating together is important to a family’s social health. How many of you eat meals together as a family ?. To help make the most of family meals, it is important to keep a positive mealtime atmosphere and pay attention to the table’s appearance.

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Family Meals

Eating together is important to a family’s social health

How many of you eat meals together as a family?

To help make the most of family meals, it is important to keep a positive mealtime atmosphere and pay attention to the table’s appearance.


Sierra’s family keeps the TV on during dinner. Dinner at Mark’s house often erupts into complaints and accusations involving Mark, his sister, and their parents.

What is wrong with these scenarios? How can they be improved?


An upbeat atmosphere can be as essential to your family’s health as nutritious food

What are some interesting topics that you have or can discuss with your family?

People who read or watch television as they eat pay little attention to what and how much they eat


How the table looks at mealtime can be as significant as how the people around it behave

Table settings include the following:

Tableware- includes any items used for serving and eating food

Place setting- the pieces of tableware used by one person to eat a meal

Serving pieces- platters, large bowls, and other tableware used for serving food

Cover- the arrangement of a place setting for one person


Table-Setting Basics

The cover is usually on the table before people sit down to eat.

Arrange flatware in the order in which it is used, starting at the outside and working in toward the center

The plate goes in the center of the cover, about 1 inch from the edge of the table

Forks go on the left of the plate, knives to the right

Place spoons to the right of the knives


If you have a soup spoon and a teaspoon, youwould use the soup spoon first so place the soup spoon to the right of the teaspoon

Place a beverage glass just above the tip of the dinner knife

The cup and saucer or mug go to the right of the spoon

The napkin is usually placed to the left of the fork


Settings for Family Meals

Most families choose simple table settings for everyday meals

For most meals, you need at least a dinner plate, fork, knife, teaspoon, and beverage glass

Serving Family Meals

There are two common styles of serving food, they are family service and plate service


Family Service

The cover is set with the necessary tableware

The food is placed in serving dishes and passed around the table with people helping themselves

The main advantage of family service is that people can serve themselves the amount they want


Disadvantages include

Hot dishes left on the table may cool to room temperature allowing bacteria to form

Difficult to practice portion control which leads to overeating

Excess food left on a plate must be thrown away which wastes both food and money


Plate Service

Plate service is generally used for family meals and in restaurants

Food is placed on the plates directly from the containers in which it was cooked and the plates are then brought to the table

The only exception is salad

Plate service saves cleanup time more than family service does


General Guidelines

Place breads and rolls on a plate or in a basket and pass it around the table

If a basket it used, line it with a napkin

Serve salads either in individual bowls at each place setting or in a serving bowl that is to be passed around the table


Salad dressing should be served separately so that people can use the amount that they want

Serve dessert after the dinner plates, salad bowls, and serving dishes have been cleared from the table