I bet you were expecting recipes for this one… Sorry to disappoint! Instead, I wanted to share my top five types of meals.
I think meals are important. Not in a balanced, nutritional kind of way (although that is important, too). Having conversations and taking the time to break and eat can be a huge personal and professional booster. Whether you’re dining with an old friend or a new acquaintance, eating tons of food or just nibbling, fine dining or dive-y, there’s something to gain.
ONE | The Breakfast
I always like to start my days on the right foot. Almost all of the time, that means getting up early and getting right to work. However, some mornings I schedule breakfasts with someone great. Meetings on the early side are challenging, but if you’re scheduling it with the right person it can be the best way to start the day. In my experience, meeting with someone you already know but don’t see often is best. The person should be a great listener and a great sharer. It’s my favorite when we can brainstorm together and mutually share what we’re up to and answer questions critically for each other.
TWO | The Snack
If you don’t have time to completely step away, carve out a few minutes to enjoy a snack. This can be alone or with a friend or coworker. Not all snacks are created equal! Oranges are great because peeling them forces you to not use your hands (aka no typing, no texting!). Single-servings of popcorn are great to keep hands occupied and you can read a newspaper article or catch up on your Instagram/Twitter feed.
I work from home now, but even when I had a more standard desk job, walking to Starbucks was my favorite afternoon break. I would count down to 2pm when I could take the three minute walk down the street with a coworker… and then have twenty to thirty minutes of pure bliss working at my desk with a delicious drink. I don’t have coworkers (yet!) right now, but I call my mom while I’m walking! This type of snack break is the best way to let of some steam before returning to work.
THREE | The Intimate Dinner
Intimate dinners are special. It could be with a best friend or a significant other. This could be a time for light conversation (catching up, sharing stories), but the real special part comes along when you can dive deep. As cliche as it sounds, sharing hopes/dreams/fears can be a good place to start. Choose a restaurant that has booths tucked away for private conversations and one where you won’t feel rushed by waiters!
I like to have these as frequently as possible. I always leave these meals feeling reconnected or more strongly connected to a loved one and definitely more grounded in who I am. Not every meal can or should have super intimate conversations, but they’re totally worth it, especially when you’re having a tough time with something. Even though my first inclination is to stay in and not move from my bed, getting out and breaking down my own walls is the most effective way to get back on track. Oh, and if you notice a friend going through something, send the Google invite for the dinner and help her out!
FOUR | The Table for One
Honestly, this is my favorite thing to do! I love taking myself out to dinner. I do eat a lot of meals alone (yay for working at home). Sitting down to a nice meal (dinners, breakfast, brunch, whatever!) is my favorite way to unwind and think– or not think. Sometimes I’ll break out my phone and draft emails, or I’ll just people watch, or I’ll write, or I might read. Eating along isn’t easy and it does take some time to get used to. If you’ve never done it before, I recommend finding outdoor seating (for people watching) and a book (when you start to feel awkward). Eventually it does feel more normal!
When I take myself out, I always order an appetizer, meal, and likely a dessert (for dinners). Nice, long, slow dinners with no rush! These kinds of meals are perfect to schedule before a hectic week to set yourself up for success. (Or after a long day when you really need to disconnect and regroup.)
FIVE | Group Dining
The most fun! You can go a few ways with this… Get together a bunch of your girlfriends. Bring an old group of friends (from school, camp, an old job, etc.) back together. Or (the best!) throw a dinner party with friends from all corners of your life who don’t know each other!
Big tables are necessary. If you’re hosting make sure you bop around the table occasionally to talk to different people. I’ve also been to meals where more formal ice-breaker type prompts help fuel conversations. This kind of meal has a big impact, and the goal should be to have great conversation and maybe making a new connection or two!
Side note: If you’re invited to a big dinner and don’t know anyone besides the host. Don’t be afraid to go!!! Do it!
Have you had any of these kinds of meals? Any favorite kinds?