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How Do You Serve Dinner?

The following post is from Jessica of GoodCheapEats and LifeasMOM: How Do You Serve Dinner?

It wasn’t until I read Laura’s post a few weeks ago that I stopped to think about the different ways one could serve dinner. Certainly, we spend a lot of time talking about food shopping and preparation, but really the most important part of the meal is the interaction we share with one another and feeding hungry tummies.

But it’s interesting all the same to think about different ways to serve dinner.

Family Style

When I was growing up, my mom served dinner “family style,” that is, she placed all the serving platters on the table for us to serve ourselves. Dinner involved a lot of “please pass the (fill in the blanks).”

One benefit of this dinner service style is that each diner can serve himself while seated. He can “pass” on the items he doesn’t care for. And this kind of meal requires interaction with one another if you can’t quite reach your desired dish. A good thing if you want to stimulate family relationships.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a large enough table, it can be quite cumbersome to accommodate each diner’s place setting as well as room for the serving dishes.

source: Good Cheap Eats

A Plated Meal

When I was a newlywed, I watched in awe how our neighbor plated everyone’s meal before bringing them to the table. It seemed a little more elegant to serve dinner that way.

She could serve the different components of the meal evenly and add a few extra touches if she desired. Since they dined in their dining room, dinner clean-up was easier. Each person simply needed to carry his plate back to the kitchen when the meal was over.

I love this method of service, mainly because I’m a control freak. As my husband says, I can make sure he eats some of everything I’ve prepared. That works for the kids, too. I know that they won’t naturally reach for the spaghetti squash, but if I put a spoonful on each child’s plate, I can, more or less, require that he eat one bite. And since we don’t have a dog, I’ll know that he has done so. I hope.

source: Good Cheap Eats

Buffet Style

Nowadays, I also serve dinner buffet-style with six kids of various ages and appetites. It’s not your typical restaurant buffet, but there are a variety of dishes that I know I please someone’s palate in at least some small way. We have a large kitchen island where I spread out the different components of the meal.

Each diner can choose what he likes and leave what he doesn’t care for. Clean-up is pretty quick and easy since all the serving dishes are still on the counter. The downside is that if you want seconds, you need to walk across the kitchen.

Each method of serving has its positives and negatives. And I’m sure each family has its own method of serving dinner.

How do you serve dinner at your house?


A foodie at heart, Jessica Fisher has learned to reconcile a tight budget with her love for great food. As a busy mom of six voracious eaters, she regularly shares healthy, delicious and budget-friendly recipes at GoodCheapEats. She also writes at her parenting blog, LifeasMOM.