Dinner is served

Confession: Every Sunday noon I cook the same food for my family—pancakes and eggs.

You are horrified. You had no idea that it was possible to serve less than a roast, potatoes, carrots, a green salad, five or six sides, fresh rolls, dessert and coffee for Sunday dinner and remain within the fold.


Or maybe not. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are still sitting there in the wake of my confession, still breathing, not suffering from any pulmonary failure, cardiac arrest, or acute and unexplained indigestion. (That would be the roast.)

Our Sunday menu dates back to the days when Ryan and I were first married. We were usually too in love with each other, having too much fun to really be exactly ready for church on time. We always left in a scramble, with the house a wreck. We’d get home and say—Okay, what’s fast and delicious? Let’s make waffles. I’d heat up the griddle, Ryan would fry a mean batch of bacon, and in a few minutes we’d be sitting down to paradise on a plate.

I felt guilty for not cooking a “decent” Sunday lunch—but only if people found out. For us, this meal was just right.

Somewhere along the line, our menu evolved to pancakes and eggs. It may have something to do with the price of bacon, times five eaters instead of two. Or it may be connected to the fact that my waffle iron began retaining its waffles, tearing them open down the middle when I raised the lid. After fighting with it for weeks, in a fit of outrage I hurled it into the trash can. It may be that.

Or it may be that Ryan loves pancakes, preferably with fresh blueberries bursting inside, juicy and purple. And I love eggs, warmly scrambled, topped with cheese, filled with bits of meat. (We like chopped pepperoni: another carryover from the early days, when some weeks there wasn’t anything else on hand…) We fill a bowl with fresh fruit—whatever kind we have in the fridge—fill some glasses with milk, and our dinner is complete.

With zero preparation ahead of time, we can sit down in 20 minutes to a hot meal and a family tradition. My sons throw fits if I serve anything else on a Sunday.

Once we grew in courage, and overcame the hurdle of serving pancakes to dinner guests, we found this also makes a fantastic meal for company. Usually they love it—the men order the fruit they want in their pancakes (apples, raspberries, plain), the ladies do the flipping, and we easily double the batches to make ample for all.

What works for you? Do you have food traditions?

**Addendum: Several commenters mentioned the pressure to make large dinners as being part of Mennonite culture. I know the feeling, but I wonder–is this custom particularly Mennonite, or just old-fashioned? I think we simply held onto what most Americans used to practice, and dropped. I would be a fool not to value the homemaking/ cooking skills I was given, even when I want to shake them up a bit. :)**

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12 years ago

Us, too! Well, we haven’t quite created the pancake and egg tradition; but we are fellow Mennonite boycotters of the big Sunday dinner meal. 🙂 And probably for the same in-the-beginning reason as you. 😉 Also, we’d way, way rather spend our Sunday afternoons relaxing alone or with each other than stuffed to the gills and doing piles of dishes. After I overcame my guilt (also, mainly when talking with others) I became incredibly, incredibly thankful for a husband who thought this was a great plan and actually prefers it to the meat and potatoes meals (not that we don’t absolutely enjoy those at someone else’s house!). For us it ranges from leftovers to breakfast to pizza, but our favorite quick and delicious meal is a Belizian dish-granochis. So far I haven’t mustered the courage to share our love for simple with our guests, but you’re giving me courage. I think I just might. Also, I think you are such a cool girl; and am finding myself wishing–more with every post–that I could hang out with you . Oh, and I can’t find my other comment; but, yes, I am Beth’s sister. I told her about your blog, so maybe she’ll stop by one day. 🙂

12 years ago
Reply to  Christy

I love your comments, Christy. And I want to hang out with you, too! But I have to say I’m not really as great as I sound… I’m very flawed, and in person I’m more fiddly, less brave. 🙂

12 years ago

Hey, I’m here! We do some of either style. My husband would be fine with refried beans and chips for lunch, but when a baby is dependent upon me for nourishment, I eat about twice as much as he does (and weigh 2/3 of what he does). It’s unusual for me to serve more than three dishes, though; but I need your courage and lack of fear of what people think of me. Ten years ago, I was NOT going to be struggling with this as a
housewife!! ?? !! Pancakes sound like a party with company. I love how you affirm others while accepting yourself.

12 years ago

Yup, we often have breakfast too- usually pancakes and eggs. Or sometimes we’ll just have leftovers like Christy said and every once in a while we are good Mennonites and have a meat and potato meal but I keep it simple and don’t add much else.

I keep thinking of doing the breakfast thing for guests sometime but haven’t gotten up the nerve. I’m just afraid people would be annoyed at having to eat it! 🙂 I think if I lived in your area though I’d be more apt to do it…just because people are more okay with things like that. Still, you got me thinking seriously about doing it the next time we have people over.

Which makes me remember a time when one of the other young couples at church invited us over spur of the moment for lunch. She served leftover lasagna and I don’t remember what else. And we had the the most wonderful time and actually really enjoyed eating their leftovers! I was so impressed that she was okay with serving it to us and it inspired me to not worry so much about that kind of thing. Only thing is, it apparently didn’t inspire me enough! 🙂

Suzanna Weaver
12 years ago

Oh, Shari — for a lonnngg time I would hardly confess that we loved tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches for Sunday lunch becuz yes, how could we be good old Mennonites and eat that for Sunday LUNCH!!! We still eat tomato soup lunches…or waffles, (cuz Dave prefers those over pancakes), biscuits and gravy, leftovers, etc. We’ve often talked about why people would want a huge meal after they have been sitting all morning not to mention how often people are late for the simple fact they have to get lunch in the oven. And like you said we get up together, get ready for church, come home and have lunch in 15-20 minutes – while I hear how other women get up before the rest and slave all morning on a huge lunch, rush off to church come home and finally sit down to eat 30-40 minutes later.

So that’s us —

12 years ago

We had waffles for lunch yesterday, and I’m delighted to see we’re not the only ones who enjoy those on a Sunday afternoon.

Marlene Stoltzfus
12 years ago

Food and its theology…this is an Important Subject to me. So I shall limit my comments to hosting. 🙂 The More-with-Less cookbook has shaped my cooking a lot, both on normal days and as hosts, a key concept for the latter being that food is not the totality of the experience. Good company and conversation are more important. In fact, my weakness is to embrace simplicity to the exclusion of celebration. I’ve had good experiences, though. As a new housewife, I started out serving simple meals to guests (partly, let’s face it, from inexperience and poor planning) and all along the trail, guests have complimented us on the use of the simple and the unexpected. I have come to believe that we have less to fear than we think when we don the roles of hosts and guests.

mama zook
12 years ago

I’d love to be at your house on a Sunday for pancakes and eggs! We love breakfast meals anytime of day!! Even for a bedtime snack (and we’ve had company overnight) we’ll get out the cold cereal and share a bowl with them. It got to be a joke with one couple who stopped over occasionally on a Sunday night after church!! He’d look at Cliff and say “should we stop over for a bowl of cereal”! How’s that for laying out a great spread?

mama zook
12 years ago

BTW, Daddy’s favorite is the oatmeal pancake recipe that is in the Red Lake cookbook, and I add 1/2 cup of walnuts to the recipe to add the nutty flavor of the IHOP whole grain pancakes!! I’ve sold a few bags of this made up as a mix at Market!

12 years ago

When our hearts are at rest (and in agreement with the man of the house) does it matter what we serve? But then I wonder, what does a “heart at rest” mean? Would love to host a coffee chat at my house with the topic, “Sunday Lunch.”

12 years ago
Reply to  Marie

Marie, thanks for the idea! I think I’m going to do it! — the chat about “Sunday lunch”. Any nice 5 point outlines on what should be included in the discussion? What should we as young mothers, but influential ladies (hostesses) in the church know about the subject?

12 years ago

It’s usually chips warmed with cheese, and salsa here at our house on Sunday. I would feel like I was really cooking if I made pancakes and eggs… 🙂 I haven’t read your blog for weeks and I am catching up this morning. It’s very enjoyable. Jolynn

Cretora Kline
11 years ago

Good read! I came from a family of “To be a good wife, set the whole entire dinner table the night before with linens and china and spend all day cooking a mammoth meal, even if you have to cook late Sat. night or all Sunday morning”….then I got married, moved to a non-Mennonite community and had children. Nearly 7 to be precise. Most weekends, our home is bursting with people-whether we are at their place or they are at ours, there is fellowship, and where there is fellowship, there must be food. (Not entirely sure that is correct doctrine, but still…..)

I don’t remember when this happened, but soon into our marriage, my husband made a statement one Saturday night-“If you don’t have anything fixed by Sat. night, I’d prefer you don’t spend time in the kitchen on Sunday morning slaving away on lunch. We can just eat sandwiches.” He didn’t think it lined up with what Scripture talks about regarding the Sabbath as a day of rest. I was a little taken aback, because that felt like failure to me as a ‘good wife’-but also strangely relieved. See, by that time, I was also homeschooling, and Saturdays were our days to run errands and clean the house, so if we had food for ourselves on Sunday, it was usually crock pot meals put together on Sat night, after the children were in bed. However, it had been ingrained in me that something so simple was certainly not company worthy. Out of respect for him, I did change. And what freedom that brought! (there have been a few minor exceptions to this “rule” of ours through the years).

I found out it doesn’t matter to people. People want to just be together. People may or may not bring their own food to add to the mix. (a mini fellowship meal is really exciting if you think about it! You don’t even have to eat your own food!) 🙂 Your post resonated w/ me because even if there’s absolutely nothing prepped for lunch, you can still fix breakfast!

I noticed you didn’t touch the ‘household cleanliness’ factor. 🙂 So I’ll just throw this out there from my perspective-if you’re diligent about keeping the house in a semi reasonable state, your guests will probably be comfortable. We try really, really, hard to have things picked up and cleaned by Sat. night. but sometimes life just happens! And I don’t believe for one minute that should stop us from inviting someone over. We’ve already had to come home and stack clean laundry from the couch into a basket so the guests could visit in the living room. And once a nursing mom sat in my room to feed her newborn baby (which at the time had become the dumping grounds for any clutter and school things so we could have more room in the dining room and living room for a party the day before). I actually did want to die of embarressment that time, but then I thought-“God knew she was going to be in church this morning, and he also knew I was going to be 8 months pregnant and not able to be and do everything, and maybe she needed to see my mess to cheer her up.” (I don’t know-maybe that is a twisted mentality but it helped me at the time) 🙂 Sometimes I’ve seen someone else’s mess and thought, “Oh good, they’re normal.” Obviously, your guests have to be comfortable, but you know what? In each of those times I mentioned above-we had a great time of fellowship and I don’t regret having them over at all!

(and I don’t know you, but thanks for the great read and letting me write an enormous comment) Blessings….

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