How To Share A Meal When You're Physically Distancing

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While ordering directly from a restaurant (especially a locally owned business) is a great way to support them during the pandemic, keeping socially distant is still essential — even on crowded business days. Instead, may I offer another suggestion? Support your local business on a random Thursday, not on weekends or larger holidays.

We started doing meal-sharing on Easter, which is the one holiday my husband and I consistently host. On Easter, we were still fairly new to the whole pandemic thing, and I was determined to not sacrifice our traditional brunch to the coronavirus. I was also not going to make a ham, an egg casserole, sweet bread, a fruit salad and a big pitcher of sangria just for us.

So I told my in-laws that we’d box up their half and drop it off. In return, my mother-in-law said she’d make the au gratin potatoes, which is her annual contribution to the meal, and we could pick those up when we dropped off the rest.

We took the same precautions we would if we were ordering delivery or doing curbside pick-up: masks, lots of hand-washing and no close contact. They live exactly seven minutes up the road from us, so I texted when my husband left with the delivery. My mother-in-law put the potatoes out on the front porch. He dropped our food off, picked hers up, and away we went.

Easter brunch all boxed up and ready for delivery. (Photo: Meghan Moravcik Walbert)

We weren’t physically together but because we planned it together and ate it at the same time, texting each other to say how good everything was, it kind of felt like we were together. We enjoyed it so much that we vowed to do it again. A couple of weeks later, I had a random craving for bolognese sauce. My recipe makes such a big pot of sauce, though, that I normally only make it when we have guests over. So I called up my mother-in-law to ask if they’d take half off our hands, and she offered to make homemade penne to go with it (score!).

She made the enchiladas and rice and beans for Cinco de Mayo, my son made a side of nachos, and I made the dessert. And for Mother’s Day, instead of waiting in a long line of cars at Olive Garden for 90 minutes, my father-in-law made some killer chicken, my husband made some equally killer apple-sausage stuffing (plus a side of veggies) and we, once again, swapped.

Initially, we did worry that sharing the food without sharing the company might be, well, a little sad. But the thought of not sharing the celebration at all felt more sad, and now the combined meal-planning is something we’re really enjoying.

With continued social distancing ahead of us for many more weeks or months, there is ample opportunity to swap meal components with family, friends or neighbours. There are upcoming birthdays, graduations, barbecues and random Sunday nights to fill with a special meal you share—in a semi-literal and semi-figurative way—with the people you love.


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