DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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1 May 2013

Changing our meal times

Over the past year or so Hanno and I have been slowly changing our eating habits. We started by having smaller servings because our appetites have changed. This has worked well for us and we've been satisfied with the meals we're eating. Now we've moved on to a change in when the main meal is served. We're now eating it at lunchtime.

Hanno is quite used to this style of eating. In Germany that is how they serve food, many places of work serve a hot meal at lunchtime and in the evenings appetites are satisfied with abend brot - or evening bread. I have fond memories of abend brot when we lived in Germany. The table was always laid with knives and forks for everyone, either a plate or a small bread board each, drink - usually beer, tea or coffee and a delicious selection of cold cuts, cheeses, salads, pickles and tomatoes.

Unusually, when we have abend brot it's at midday. We're having a pot of tea with it. We didn't do that when we had our main meal in the evening because I don't sleep well if I drink tea or coffee after 4pm. As usual, I set the table for the two of us. Knives, forks, a plate for each of us, and cups for tea. In the middle of this is the main plate - a magnificent assortment of whatever I have on hand or have bought for the plate.


Abend brot can be made up of anything. The one we had the other day (above) was a combination of camembert and Swiss cheese, salami, boiled eggs, tomatoes, avocado, pickled cucumbers and onions. We had rye sourdough and black bread - the very dense German rye bread. Everyone makes their own sandwich so you can do whatever suits you. Usually in Germany, you'd have either cheese or cold cuts on one sandwich but I had Swiss cheese, salami, tomato, avocado and pickled onions on my slice, but I could only eat one and a half slices. 

Mayonaisse-based salads are also popular for abend brot. Next time we have it, I'll poach a chicken breast and we'll have chicken salad and possibly kassler instead of salami. Tuna salad or egg salad would also be great additions. It sounds like a light option but it certainly fills you up and it's great, as long as you have the makings of it, for those nights, or lunchtimes, when you don't feel like cooking.

When do you serve meals throughout the day? Have you changed how you eat recently? Our change is due to our ages but I'm guessing there are some who have changed to include more organic and local foods and some who have changed for financial reasons. 


42 comments:

  1. We eat three meals, with the biggest in the evening. Breakfast is around 7:15, lunch at noon, dinner at 6. We eat dinner relatively late but that is when my husband gets home from work. Both children are in bed by 7:30; on Saturday nights, my husband and I have an at-home "date." We give the kids their dinner at the normal time and then eat our own after they have gone to bed. We're usually ravenous by then but it's worth it to have a quiet meal together. :)

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  2. Oh, fond memories of abend brot shared with the family at home in Germany! Different types of bread, cheese etc - just like you said. One of my favourite salads to have with it is herring & beetroot in a mayo dressing (Herringssalat - sounds strange but is very tasty). My husband and I sometimes have abend brot here in the UK but the majority of the time we have our hot main meal in the evening. You've certainly put a smile on my face with your post :-) Kirsten

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    1. Oh yes, we know herringsalat. It's one of Hanno's favourites.

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    2. :-) he has very good taste ;-) Kirsten x

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  3. We are also changing eating habits. Because my husband and I both have our own businesses, we seldom have lunch together. I have an employee most days and we share lunch, restaurant sandwiches are huge, so we split one, or share soup or salad. but he is on the road a lot at meal times, so it's either snack food (not good) or stop at a hamburger place, where it's a big sandwich, fries, soda pop. And he's noticed he's gaining weight (I noticed too). So we've trimmed back on our night meals - a smaller portion of meat or cheese with fruit and vegetable side, no dessert. Breakfast has shrunk to fruit juice with toast (homemade bread and real butter:-) He hasn't noticed much weight loss, but I'm down 14 pounds=D

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  4. Good morning, Rhonda!
    Your plate looks sooo good! Especially those runny eggs, hmmm... Just the way I like them!
    I live in Eastern Europe (Romania) and we also have our main meal at lunch, it is also healthier.
    I love the german type of breakfast, it`s very good and those freshly baked broetchen... yummy!
    I don`t know why, but mine are never that good, that crispy...Any idea why?!

    Have a great day!
    Diana

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    1. Hi Diana. The crispiness is usually due to the hot bakers oven. They have steam in there too. It gives a great finish to the bread. You could try spraying your brotchen with a spray bottle of water. Just a short spray should give you a crisper crust.

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    2. I use a deep baking tray with boiled water from the kettle in the bottom of my oven when baking bread or rolls to get the steam effect & crisp crust. As soon as the bread goes in, I pour boiling water into the pan underneath & quickly shut the oven. Hope that helps! Kirsten x

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    3. Thanks, both of you!
      Years ago, when I started to bake bread at home, I tried both ways, I even brushed the bread with water, and, yes, it is crispier, but still, not the way the comercial rolls are.
      Maybe it comes down to what type of oven we use. Mine is electric, but traditional. Bakeries have convection ovens.
      I hope one day I'll be able to bake bread in a wood fired oven, like our grandfathers did.

      Diana

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  5. Ohh...just like in Denmark, yum, yum! I grew up in Finland and the times were like you describe in Germany. It would suite me really well, as I tend to eat less and sleep better if I eat my main meal at the lunch time. Unfortunately my son needs a meal at the dinner time, as he has packed lunch to school.

    We change quite a lot with seasons, summer sees a lot of salad and lighter meals all around. Winter is comfort foods and always soup for lunch.

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    1. It's a good idea to change with the seasons. We do the same.

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  6. I prefer eating our biggest meal earlier but my husband doesn't like light dinners. I love the old saying 'Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper'. It makes sense to me too because your body gets to utilise the energy from big meals during the day and at night a light supper lets you sleep well.

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  7. I would love to swap the big meal to the middle of the day but the kids have no way of having it hot at school (I am thinking about approaching the school to volunteer at lunch time to heat and serve lunches as sent in by parents as it is cold here and they need a hot meal). I always thought that it would be lovely - if the school weren't so far away - to pack tiffins to deliver :)

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    1. I hope they allow you to do that. Have you seen how the tiffins are delivered in India? It's amazing.

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    2. Our primary school has a 'heat ups' day on Thursdays. The kids are encouraged to bring in leftovers, soup, sandwiches to be toasted, pies/sausage rolls etc and (ick) noodles. Basically they can take anything that can go in the pie warmer (the grade 6s put them in after morning play) or be heated in the microwave, have boiling water added or be toasted. A parent goes in half an hour before lunch time to do the work. It's lovely to be able to send something hot for lunch once a week, my boys love it.
      And I love those tiffins too! Awesome!

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  8. One of my fall-back "I need to sort dinner but can't think of anything" meals is to make up a white or wholemeal bread dough or use my no knead shourdough, then make bread rolls wrapped around a filling. Last night I rough chopped in my thermy, olives, cheese, some tomatoes and ham and basically made little pizzas - flatten out a bread roll sized piece of bread dough, smear a little tomato paste on it, a dollop of filling then wrap it up before leaving to rise and baking it. It's an easy meal and all 3 kids love it. Pizza surprise, but works well with nearly any form of filling, including sweet (I use brioche dough for sweet fillings though).
    We're starting to eat a little more seasonally, more in the way of cooking than the foods (we eat fairly seasonally anyway) with slow cooked meals in the schlemmertopf cooked in our wood stove. Dice up veggies, throw in whichever cut of lamb I can excavate from the deep freeze and a jar of home bottled tomatoes, whack in the oven and dig it out a minimum of 4 hours later. It means I can start sorting dinner as soon as breakfast is over. Soup is another good one, ingredients thrown in the stock pot and left to simmer on the wood stove. :) With 3 kids under 5 it's about convenience here. :D

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    1. Thanks for reminding me about stuffed breadrolls - pizza surprise. I'm sure my boys (of all ages) would love those. I bet those schlemmertopf meals you cook smell and taste wonderful.

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  9. We still have the larger evening meal as, like Mama Elf, I have a child who takes a packed lunch and she is ravenous by dinner time even though she has a snack when she arrives home.
    I'm making myself bigger breakfasts and lunches though and eating a smaller serve in the evening otherwise my morning blood pressure reading can skyrocket and the doctor threatens to put me on diuretic tablets. I still can't figure out how spending one's morning in the toilet helps lower the blood pressure though!
    Cheers, Robyn xo

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  10. Hi Rhonda
    I know alot of people that are retired that eat their main meal at lunch. Thats what I will do about 20 years off though.
    Just a little off topic, I am very proud of my mending achievements this week. I had two broken flys in jeans. I bought jeans at op shop $2 with the right size zips and replaced the zips. Jeans were $90 and $80 right for a few more years now. I also put some elastic in a pair of work pants which pulled them tighter around my waist, no belt yeh. (hate belts never feel comfy) Three pairs of pants better than buying new ones. Love your blog read everyday.

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    1. You should be proud of your mending. Look at how much money you've saved. You're giving those jeans a new life. Well done!

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  11. When I was younger I used to make fun of "old" people ie: my grandma and nana.
    You know, how they have dinner at 4pm with the table set 'just so'.
    How they get up in the middle of the night for a cup of tea (or milo).
    Or tell you proudly at 8 o'clock in the morning that they have stripped the bed, washed the sheets and hung them out to dry.
    The care they went to cooking their midday lamb chop and vegies.
    I used to think their world was so small.
    Ha! The arrogance of youth.

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  12. We all still like our main meal in the evenings, but eat it early (5.30ish) as that's when hubby gets home and we're all 'starving'. Hubby (and the kids on heat up days) like to take leftovers for lunch, and I'm a big fan of a toasted sandwich or, if I ate bread for breakfast, I have my porridge or muesli for lunch - a backwards day! I will often do a meal like yours on weekends though of if we have visitors - everyone enjoys mixing up their own plate of what we tend to call a ploughmans lunch.

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  13. I love the idea of abend brot! We have done that now and then where we will buy cheese and pears and french bread. We eat seasonally too so as it gets warmer, the meals will get lighter.
    Right now I have been cutting back on serving grains with our dinner. I may make salmon and veggies or eggs and soy sausage but no rice or bread. We have noticed that we are not as full, but feel good. Not that we are against having grains sometimes. Tonight we had buglur and it was yummy!

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  14. funny you should ask this question today rhonda! i've just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes- for the first time in 3 pregnancies- and i'm desperate to control it with diet (although they say it might not be possible in my case because my diet and health is already good- for me unforunately it's a genetic and age related thing) so i am actually in the process of changing the way my whole family eats... the timing of meals is becoming MUCH stricker as is what is served at them! it's a bit stressful, but at least it is only short term.... it makes me understand my nana a bit more (who had type 2 diabetes) and the way/times etc she ate!
    amy

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  15. That looks very good indeed! It reminds me a little of the Italian antipasto that is usual in Daniel's family. This is very similar to what we have started to eat for lunch on the weekends. A selection of cheeses, sometimes cold meats or eggs, saurkraut and perhaps some salad. Quick to whip up and doesn't leave you hungry.

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  16. Sounds like a great way to eat your meals, now if it could just come with a siesta afterwards id be in heaven. I should be living in europe.

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  17. We eat early in the evenings, I tend to eat a lot of smaller meals rather than 3 big ones. I do love the idea of a hot lunch though.

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  18. I am thinking of moving the main meal permanently to midday. At present it is a bit of a mix. Dinner is usually between 6 and 7.

    We often have lunches and evening meals similar to the abend brot you describe. We probably put out more Italian style foods. I love that as there are a lot of different taste and textures. It is perfect way to eat in summer. Cheese and bread is a delight for me.

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  19. Hi Rhonda,
    my husbands Israeli family eat exactly like this! When I first visited them I was confused- breakfast was usually mid morning and consisted of homemade cheeses, vegetables, quail eggs and olive oils.
    A meat meal maybe twice a week, and the evening meal was more of a mish mash of leftovers from the more substantial afternoon meal.
    I grew to love this type of eating, and have tried to continue since we returned to Australia. Drors family are originally from Europe, Germany included. Many of the recipes you include remind me of the recipes I have gotten from my mother in law, my husband loves them as well :-)

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  20. Very interesting post! Since I am out of the commuter workforce now, I eat when I am hungry...breakfast when I wake up, nibbles for lunch such as crackers and cheese and fruit, and then a hearty mid day meal at about 4:00 PM. I find that way I am not snacking as much in between meals. If I'm hungry in the evening, I have popcorn or another small snack. My energy fades as the day goes on, so cooking in the afternoon suits me.

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  21. We eat our main meal in the evening, I try to make it no later than 6:30 - 7 pm but ranch work is sometimes unforgiving of its times and we often don't drag back to the house until 8 or so. I'd love to shift our main meal to the afternoon and may work toward that, but oftentimes it's in the middle of the day when we're furthest from the house - checking pastures, working cows, etc. This has give me something to think of though.

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, TX

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    1. When I worked on a ranch many years ago, we would plan the next day's meals in the evening. If we planned on being any distance from the house, we would plan a meal to take along (sometimes just a hearty picnic type thing, other times serious eats). We usually had soup or stew on those nights because we could drag in late if need be, grab bowls and bread then head for bed with the least effort.

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  22. My husband and I became empty nesters last year when our son graduated from college and got married.

    We've been talking about having our larger meal in the middle of the day, too. It's hard to change what we have been used to for so long but we both feel we'd be healthier if we made the change.

    We both remember when farm families had their bigger meal mid-day.

    I'm also changing what I cook more often.

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  23. We are nearly always changing up our mealtimes. Our schedule is different right now with my husband working overtime hours each day, so we needed to adjust our evening meal. We tried eating all together at 7:15pm when he arrived home, but the younger children were really too tired and cranky by then... Now, we eat earlier without Daddy and get everything all cleaned up so that when he does arrive home, we can sit with him while HE eats his supper and the kids eat their bedtime yogurt snack at that time. So much less stressful than rushing through a late supper/dishes/bedtime routine.

    On weekends, we often eat our main meal in the afternoon. It works well for us because we usually have a full cooked breakfast on weekend mornings and aren't really hungry for a lunch until afternoon. We eat a nice big meal mid-afternoon and then if needed, we put a "snack tray" together for casual eats in the early evening.

    I have also noticed that my husband and I eat less than we used to... we don't seem to require as much food at mealtimes. Aging? Probably :)

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  24. My son and I ate our largest meal around 3:00 when my husband was deployed for a year. Now, we are back to eating our largest meal in the evening, because hubby doesn't eat much during the day and is hungry when he gets home. Still, we eat fairly early as he gets off at 3 p.m. I would prefer two larger meals, mid morning and mid afternoon, with more of a snack in the evening. The kids are variable . . . my son is a teenager, and is *always* hungry :) and my five year old daughter is very attuned to her hunger and eats accordingly--something I'd like for all of us!
    Heather in California

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  25. Oh I loved this post! It brought back very fond memories of Abendbrot after school in Germany. :-)
    More usually soup and so forth in the winter.
    Thank for sharing

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  26. We have to have the main meal in the evening as we both work and take some
    sandwiches or a salad for our lunches. But, when we are on holiday we usually change habits. I`m also used to the same meal distribution like Hanno. In Bavaria we call it Brotzeit. And a selection of breads and cold meats were the norm for me back home. Mum would also make a mixed salad in the summer time. Bear or lemonade would be served as well. I miss the local sourdough based farmhouse bread from my home region and shall eat myself sick of it when we go to visit mum and dad again in July this year. On Saturdays we occasionally have Brotzeit here in the UK, too. It`s the weekend and then feels like a tiny holiday for us when we lay out different meats and cheeses. I guess, as we get older our eating habits will also change.

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  27. We have our main meal in the evening - at around 8. We've always eaten then, and it suits us. Greek people have their meal very late - usually around 9.30, but we've never adapted to Greek hours. We have a light lunch at midday, at the hottest time of the day; don't want to eat much then. I love the idea of abendbrod - it reminds me of the breakfasts served in continental hotels, where you can serve yourself from a big buffet. The meat & cheese choices are lovely. - Overall I'm very keen on buffet style meals - they are great when people have different tastes in food.

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  28. Our main meal is lunch. We have a larger lunch and nothing after around 3pm most days. This way of eating relates to Ayurveda. Eating nothing (especially after 5pm) gives the digestion a chance to rest. By eating constantly we are always pumping hydrochloric acid into our system via digestion. We rest it if we don't eat late if possible. Hot countries like India usually eat late due to the heat.

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  29. We have just got home from Bali and over there they have hardly any breakfast, maybe some fruit. They will then work in the fields until about 1pm and break for a big lunch and a sleep. After working again in the afternoon they will have leftovers from lunch for dinner. The lunch we shared with the Balinese was amazing not only the taste but because there was no waste, not a plastic bag or glass jar. It was also prepared with only a few utensils. Such a contrast to my kitchen. The Balinese culture and permaculture systems has taught me so much. I can't wait to write about it.

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  30. Rhonda,

    I would love to know if you would share your black bread recipe.? My father can not find it any longer here in the states and I would love to make it for him.

    Thank you for your consideration.

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    1. Of course I will. You'll have to find a shop that sells a strong rye flour, and if your dad likes the traditional caraway seeds on it, grabs those as well. If you go here http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/how-to-make-bread-in-bread-machine.html?showComment=1375935181703, you'll find my all round recipe for bread. Use your flour with that recipe. You can make it in the bread machine or by hand. Depending on how dense your dad likes his bread, you could add white strong flour to lighten it. One cup white to three cups rye is what I use and it gives a good dense rye loaf that is a bit springier than most. It will last well and improve in taste for about three days. Good luck!

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