By Jessica Domel

Dinner in 15 minutes or less. All you have to do is wait for the perky ding of the microwave to tell you a “homemade” meal is piping hot and ready just for you. 

As the revolving platform cycles a “meal” around the microwave, we get other tasks done. Feed the dog. Help kids with homework. Check email. The invention of easy-cook meals has done wonders for our productivity. But what has it done to our society?

When was the last time the whole family worked together in the kitchen on a meal and then sat down together to discuss their day?

I was the child of two working parents. I’m proud of both of them. But I often wish they taught me how to make grandma’s chicken-fried steak. How to grill a steak. Maybe how to clean a fish.  

At grandma’s house, we cooked together. We ate together. We cleaned together. It was the rule of the farm. 

As an adult, I often find I don’t “have time” to shop, to cook, to clean. So I opt for the ready-made meal. 

But I long for the days when my family sat down together to delight in one of my grandmother’s famous dishes, to talk about the cattle and to learn from one another. 

Those were the days.

I worry about my younger relatives. They’ve grown up with parents my age.  We’ve moved away from the farm. We don’t cook as often. We all have “more important” things to do. 

When these kids grow up, will they look back and crave the easy mac and cheese that we made them? Or will they long for my grandmother’s noodle recipe like my generation does? 

They won’t remember it, and our lovingly crazy conversations, if we never expose them to that. 

So many of our family interactions revolved around grandma’s dinner table when I was young. So why have we moved so far away from it for the sake of productivity? Sometimes I think we need to go back to the good ol’ days. Kids peeling potatoes. Parents prepping the protein. 

On the family farm, we had family meals. We worked together and ate together. Clearly, we can’t all go back to the farm. But we can bring a bit of the family farm to our own homes. 

Cook together. Eat together. The emails can wait.