The last couple of Sunday Snippets I have been writing about hospitality, and how it begins at home and I got a really good question about how we actually have countless folk over and what we feed them… Aaah I am all for a practical question!!! And this post provides a very practical answer…
Just like the story of Elijah and the Widow and the Miraculous Jar of Oil, that you can read about in 1 Kings 17: 1-15, I don’t think we are called to provide banquets or mansions, we are just called to practice hospitality.
I think when I was first married I liked the idea of hospitality but I didn’t practice it – except for high days and holidays… and because of that I was always stressed out that our house wasn’t clean enough, the food wouldn’t be enough, the house wasn’t big enough and so on. But I think it is important to remember that it doesn’t matter how humble our home is, it is the fact that we are practicing hospitality that counts. So practice we do, we are not perfect at it, our house isn’t spotless – it is neat and clean “enough” and the food is whatever we are eating – fairly simple!!! and the more we practice opening our home the easier it has become.
Here is a the best response to the question “How do you feed extra people?” I have ever read, in an ancient cookbook in a second hand book store, and I didn’t even buy it: if you are having extra folk over for a meal don’t cook more than usual just add an extra side-dish or two. This really works for me!!!
I thought I would show you the different types of hospitality that happen in our home and you can see how we cater without breaking the bank:
- Drop in visitors, usually students far from home or someone we have seen that day and said: “Don’t you want to come over?” If we have one or two extra guests for supper and we do about twice a week, I don’t make more food than we usually eat, but I may get a child to make a flat bread or whip up a garden salad to go with whatever we would have had. So for drop in guests they eat whatever we eat… and if it’s the end of the month and it’s fresh pasta and herbs then that’s what it is!!!
- Folk we have invited with great anticipation usually visitors from overseas or who live out of town or overseas: Long lost friends or folk we have only just met at church or whatever… For this type of visitor I would prepare something I could do most of the work in advance – often they arrive and want a walk on the beach – and I for one don’t want to be left at home making dinner. I would pop in “a something” that can roast and have all the vegi’s, potatoes etc good to go… I will blog my standard roast dinner for you!!!
- More than a handful, a Bible Study or small group: For a medium size crowd I usually serve two meals… two make a huge lasagna or whatever is just too much work for me!!! So I will make Spaghetti and Meatballs and Mini Shell Pasta With A Creamy Smoked Bacon And Pea Sauce. And then fill the meal out with bread and salad. When I budget dinner meals for the month , instead of 30 dinners I budget for thirty four… so one of these extra meals a week is covered.
- Hoards of folk: Having a Bible Study or even half the church (depending on the size of your church!) over for supper can be done!!! For this one don’t think about it, just start!!! I almost always make hamburgers from scratch when we have more than twenty guests coming over – they can be made in advance, and everybody eats them. My kids make endless buns on the day, I can cook onions rings, slice tomatoes, gherkins and lettuce beforehand. I make the burgers a day or two beforehand and freeze them and then cook them as the guests arrive and settle in. Budget wise – a huge meal like that takes an extra packet of bread flour and two or three more packets of mince than our usual. Extra onions, tomatoes and lettuce are not expensive.
- Even Larger Groups: Sometimes we have an open home for missionaries who are in town but they are staying somewhere small, we just make a day that they can use our home and invite whoever they like over: This is usually an afternoon coffee or tea and we bake a couple of things and have bowls of fresh fruit: cherries, grapes, watermelon, whatever is in season and leave it at that…
- A handful of kids: For a couple of kids I usually let them make their own pizza’s. Kids like to be in control of their own food and I find if they make it themselves they are a lot more likely to eat it.
- For a lot of kids: Inviting the whole Sunday School over… I will usually make wraps… there are a lot of bits and pieces to chop and then they can really pick their own. Kids can be fussy, really fussy but the more control they have over a meal the more they can sort themselves out and not go home to their parents starving half to death!!! Also if I make wraps I am there on the side if there is a problem, but mostly just part of the furniture… and I get to hear their amazing conversations!!!
The things that can make everyday catering and visitors expensive are fancy desserts, we don’t really eat desserts much, I may make a batch of brownies for visitors but not always. And juice, now that can get really pricey, we don’t normally drink it (I would rather my kids got their fruit servings from sugar than a whole lot of expensive added flavorings and sugars). I don’t normally have juice in the house. I just offer crisp cold water with meals – I have never had anyone complain (I lie one child through a complete fit that their was no juice – but I saw it as an opportunity for his parents to do some training and moved on!!!).
Really the more our house has opened up the more I realize it isn’t about our house being smart enough or the food is good enough. It is about being welcoming and friendly and going the extra mile for folk who are far from home… It is the least we can do to make them feel welcome. And I really want our kids to know that our house is a blessing to be shared and hospitality is part of life. As we practice hospitality as a family hopefully they will learn this is how to live in general not just on extra special occasions.
This Post was hammered out as part of The Thirty Minute Mom’s Challenge at Steady Mom. The photographs were taken from my flickr pool, so didn’t need load up time.
I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.