House rules during meal times

Today there was an interesting discussion at Twitter over food. Specifically, about family members who say, “no thank you” when served with food cooked with love over an amount of time (4 hours the tweeter says).

I remember our unwritten house rules (this is a partial list) during meal times and I tweeted back Rule #1 which I think is very important.

Rule #1: Taste before you whine or decline.

It’s not just people or books that are easily judged. Food too. I admit, there are food that puts us off because of the color, shape, texture or even the smell.

I mean, who knew that the king of fruit, Durian, which smells like rotten garbage according to some, would taste heavenly? That melt in your mouth sensation kind of stuff?

Or that strange looking soup that your wife religiously followed a recipe for and spent time – you might not like the way it turned out, it looked less appealing BUT taste it first before voicing out any opinion. She deserves that.

You don’t like broccoli? Try it first. Forcing kids (or adults) to eat something is not a game I like playing. I do convince family members to try a bit of everything before whining or declining.

Rule #2: Eat what is on the table. This is not a restaurant.

I adapted this house rule from my father. We were six siblings in the family and we did not live in luxury. Our parents prepared food that they deem healthy, nutritious and satiable for us. We had lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and less of red meat and other processed food like sausages or hotdogs or canned stuff.

When any of us smirks at the sight of what is on the table and wish for that juicy hotdog we saw in the TV commercial, my father would blurt out, “Eat what is in the table and give thanks. There is no menu card. This is not a restaurant!”

And we ate and grew up just fine.

Rule #3: Don’t put condiments before taking a spoonful or bite.

Condiments/spices on the table are flavor enhancers. It is an insult to put shoyu (soy sauce), for example to charhan (fried rice) served on the table. You are giving the cook the impression that his/her cooking is bland.

(and ahem, my cooking is not bland and the husband makes a great fried rice…)

However, it is acceptable to put condiments/spices/salt or pepper only after you taste the food (See Rule #1). If it’s really bland for you, then put.

In our house though, we don’t have small bottles of salt, pepper, etc on the table. We eat our food as is.

So…to sum the three simple house rules (with regards to food), it’s simply thanking for the grace we received and respecting the cook who made the food with love.

Do you have rules at your house for during meal times? Iโ€™d love to hear them, soย please share.


  1. I remember my dad kept telling me and my siblings: “You eat what we cook. If you don’t eat, you die.” That definitely got us to eat, no matter what was served ๐Ÿ™‚



  2. I grew up with the notion that if I didn’t finish my food the leftovers would become monsters and haunt me – I used to be even scared of throwing out the bones due to this! ๐Ÿ™‚ But we did have a house rule which was NO TV during dinner as that was the time of the day when the family sat together which I still try to uphold to this day!



  3. I pretty much agree with your rules! and as the kids get older and can serve themselves: if they serve it, they eat it. As in, not taking more than you can eat, you can always have more if you’re still hungry, but wasting food is not okay! ๐Ÿ™‚



    1. Yes that too! My husband is so strict with that, even for adults. In Japan, there should not be any morsel of food in your rice bowl or plate when you finish eating.

      Pristine is trained to serve herself right now and what she has on her plate, she needs to finish it all.



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