Almost every night I serve some type of dinner at 6 o’clock. I’ve done this for over 30 years. For me, cooking dinner is my favorite way to show those I care about that I love them. After all, nothing quite says home like a home-cooked meal.
Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages is heralded as one of the most influential books on relationships. His book talks about how we give and receive love in different ways: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, and giving gifts. Most people have a dominant way that they give or receive love—this is their love language. My love language is quality time. I feel most loved when people spend time with me, and it’s the way I like to show my love as well. Each member in our family has their own love language. The wonderful thing about dinner together is it gives us a chance to show all five love languages.
Acts of Service
From start to finish, there are dozens of opportunities to show your love to your family. Meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and doing the dishes are all beautiful acts of service. And take note, when one of your kids asks to set the table, they’re showing you they love you too! Acts of service might be the most utilitarian of the love languages when it comes to making dinner, but it’s just one of the five ways we show our love.
Sharing a meal together provides a wonderful space for quality time spent with those around the table. It can start well before the meal. Grocery shopping might be quickest done as a solitary activity, but bringing your pre-teen along might give you some time to chat. You might notice a lingering kid in the kitchen when you’re cooking. Maybe they’re underfoot. Now, they might just want to know for the thousandth time “what’s for dinner?” It’s also possible they simply want to spend time with you. Spending time with one another, regardless of the task, or the meal in front of us, is precious.
Words of Affirmation
We show the love language of words of affirmation through our conversations at the dinner table. Intentional dialogue, praise of accomplishments, consoling someone who had a bad day. Those moments are necessary and important. When we have dinner together, we create space for those words. We affirm our family.
Physical touch connects us with one another. In our family, we begin each meal with prayer. By taking each other’s hands, we’re showing love and affection in a physical way. For a brief moment you’re connected with someone else, and for some in your family (or maybe for you), that may mean more than you realize.
The love language of gifts might be the biggest stretch, but I think it’s right to say that when it comes to dinner, the meal itself is the gift you give your family. If you make a favorite recipe or special meal for one person, that becomes a gift.
Cooking dinner for your family is a huge act of love in all its forms. By gathering around the table, we have the opportunity to show and receive love in many ways. We also have the opportunity to teach our children and those around us what it looks like to love well.
Love on the dear ones of your family tonight with this recipe from my cookbook, Eat at Home Tonight.
Chicken Enchilada Melt Subs
When I first got married, I didn’t know how to cook at all. Jim and I would get together with another married couple on the weekends and we’d cook together. My friend taught me how to make easy chicken enchiladas during one of those cooking sessions. It’s a recipe I use to this day, because it uses basic pantry ingredients and I almost always have what I need on hand. The recipe is quick, but you do need time to let the enchiladas bake. Enter this sandwich version, which has all the cheesy goodness of a chicken enchilada, but fits in a fifteen-minute time crunch.
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 sub buns
Stir the chicken, chilies, tomato sauce and seasonings together in a large bowl. Warm in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add one cup of cheese to the chicken and stir to combine. Toast the sub buns under the broiler. Place the chicken enchilada filling on each sub bun, distributing evenly. Top with the remaining cup of cheese. Place the open-faced sandwiches under the broiler again to melt the cheese, until the top looks toasty. Remove from oven and place top of bun on each sandwich.
TIFFANY KING, author of Eat at Home Tonight: 101 Simple Busy-Family Recipes for Your Slow Cooker, Sheet Pan, Instant Pot®, and More, has cooked more than 10,000 meals for her husband and four kids. Over the years, King has learned what works and what doesn't for getting dinner on the table fast. Her recipes have been developed in a real kitchen for her busy family and tested by the millions of readers of her website, Eat at Home. She also shares recipes and demonstrates cooking techniques through weekly live videos on her popular Facebook page. When she's not cooking, you can find her curled up with a good book.
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