Food is my love language and always has been. I believe my mother passed this down to me. Watching her from a very young age, I took note of the way she surprised new neighbors with brownies and always showed up to potlucks with a time-intensive homemade dish in hand.
Now, I find myself doing the same. From baking homemade bread to gathering friends for a barbecue, there are so many ways I love others through food.
There’s nothing quite like a warm, crisp loaf of bread or biting into a decadent homemade cake on your birthday. You can almost taste the love that went into the preparation and baking, which is why I absolutely adore whipping up baked goods from scratch and sharing them with others. Whether it’s pie, cookies, muffins, donuts or brownies, baked goods are my thing.
If you want to get in on the baking frenzy and share some love, try whipping up a few basic recipes. You can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies or cupcakes! Then, wrap up the best of your baking treats and surprise your neighbors, friends and family. You might even include the recipe so they can pay it forward and share the love with their circle of friends.
2. Cooking Together
Sometimes, sharing love through food is less about what you cook and more about who you cook with. Add an extra dash of love to your meals and sweet treats by inviting your kids or partner into the kitchen. Even toddlers can roll up their sleeves and help by washing fruits and vegetables, cutting soft foods and mixing ingredients. Allowing them to assist in these ways will give you more time to bond and teach them about food early on.
Let your partner help you in the kitchen as well for a fun or even sensual experience — the choice is yours! Chop, stir, dip and sizzle your dinner, then sit down and enjoy it together.
3. Backyard Grilling
Another exciting way to cook with others and share your love through food is to invite friends and family over for a cookout. Dust off the grill and start flipping those burgers, being thoughtful enough to make them rare to well done so everyone will enjoy the meal. You might even make extra to take to those who are in quarantine or can’t get groceries themselves. Just be sure to wash your hands and cooking surfaces frequently to prevent cross-contamination.
Good food and barbecues certainly have a way of bringing people together but, remember, you’re in charge of the guest list. When deciding who to invite, think about who should meet who and which friends you’d like to get to know more. Maybe you or someone you know could benefit from meeting a fresh face and making a new friend.
4. Volunteering to Serve
When it comes time to dish up the food you put all that love into, consider serving your friends and family restaurant style. Plate each meal with care and serve guests one by one. Of course, you don’t have to do this at every meal, but I like to switch up buffet and potluck style dinners every once in a while. After all, everyone likes to have others serve them on occasion, especially when it involves a fancy meal.
You can also serve up love and tasty meals by volunteering at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Some of the most moving experiences I’ve had have occurred while serving others at our nearby shelter.
5. Accommodating Dietary Restrictions
If you’ve ever talked to a die-hard vegan, you know how passionate they can be about animal cruelty and refraining from consuming animal products. Love the vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians in your life by serving up food especially for them and their dietary restrictions. Taking the time and effort to modify recipes and learn about their diets will show them just how much you care about their passions and health.
Likewise, if you have friends or family with allergies or sensitivities to products like dairy or gluten, love them well by creating allergen-free dishes. Additionally, you can love people with health conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol by making them healthier versions of their favorite foods. Odds are they don’t make sugar-free goodies for themselves at home and would love the occasional treat.
6. Cleaning Up
After plates are empty and guests begin to slip into the subsequent food coma, continue to express your love for them by cleaning up. While guests are still chatting, gather up empty stemware and breakable dishware and place them in the kitchen. Then, you can return to entertaining or chatting with your friends and family. This way, they aren’t holding on to empty plates or feel obligated to clean them for you.
Once guests leave, you can get elbows deep in the suds. Of course, no one sees this act of love, but not every kind gesture needs to be seen to be felt.
Find Your Love Language
I communicate and love others best through the food I bake, cook and serve. However, your love language might look quite different from mine. Maybe you care for others with hugs, a listening ear or words of affirmation — and that’s awesome! You don’t have to be a foodie to love others well. Instead, use your passion and personality to express your affection and regard for others. If you’re sincere in your actions, they’ll feel it.
Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, freelance writer, and blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She enjoys yoga day, red wine, and drinking all of the tea she can find. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.
Image courtesy of Jason Briscoe.