Making Dinner, Making Memories

Making Dinner, Making Memories

Fewer meals sound more hearty than a fresh lasagna. Melted cheese and sauce combine with layers of noodles and ricotta, making a meal many of us know and love. However, it’s a meal few of us have time to make from scratch. It’s true that when you’re making dinner, you’re making memories. But in our busy lives, how do we keep making dinner a time to gather with friends and family? Thankfully, it’s not laboring over the meals themselves that matters but the memories surrounding them.

Text by Annika Bastian

A Childhood Favorite

Lasagna holds a special place in both my heart and my appetite. As a child, the meal felt festive. When lasagna was on the menu, I knew it was going to be a good day.

My mother would devote an entire Sunday afternoon to making her lasagna. She’d get home from church a little after noon and have dinner on the table by four. It was a weekend treat we enjoyed with family and friends for as long as I can remember. She often served lasagna when report cards went out, when birthdays came around, or when loved ones visited town. To me, lasagna is the meal that brings together family and food.

Close-up of woman making lasagna.

Making My Own Lasagna (Sort Of)

Once lasagna’s in the oven, the hard part is over, but assembling that Italian goodness is enough to make most of us choose a different dinner option. I haven’t made a lasagna by hand in years, not when lots of delicious pre-prepared options exist. From fresh to frozen, I’ve tried all kinds of pre-made lasagnas. I find it’s worth the extra penny to get fresh, pre-prepared options. When I’m near Homewood, I make sure to stop at Market Table and pick up their hearty and healthy family-sized veggie lasagna. It’s the perfect meal to share with kids who’ve come home from college, friends on board game night, or with your spouse for candle-lit alone time.

Bringing Friends and Family Back Together

Extended family enjoying dinner.

With the main dish taken care of, all you have to do is steam broccoli or whip up a simple salad and some buttery garlic bread for tasty side dishes. They’ll be ready in so little time you can set the table for a hassle-free dinner. Then, you can enjoy being with your friends and family, making memories instead of washing dishes in the kitchen.

Living with a Roommate Who Can’t Cook

Living with a Roommate Who Can’t Cook


In my time at college I’ve gotten comfortable with cooking. But, that’s not the case for everyone — especially my roommates.

Text by Annika Bastian

My first roommate tried to pan fry two frozen chicken breasts. My next roomie set off the fire alarm with a breakfast quesadilla. For those of you who can’t cook, here are some ways to make your roommates think you can. And for those of you who are living with a roommate who can’t cook, here’s some tips to keep you apartment’s safety deposit.

Woman holds flaming pan.

Breakfast For Dinner

I love breakfast for dinner. My roommate can make practice pancakes until she has at least a few light, fluffy beauties. She cooks bacon and sausage in the microwave. And she can even make a mean scrambled egg (on low heat). It’s a comfort food for both of us that’s very beginner-cook friendly. Add a sprig of parsley for garnish and you’ve got a gourmet meal.

Soup and Sandwiches

My roommate gets a text from her mother every time soup goes on sale at Publix. Then she rushes to the store and loads up her cart so we always have a quick dinner option. She heats soup on the stove, but soup can also heat in the microwave. Just make sure it’s in a bowl and not its metal can! We’re also big fans of Market Table soups, made with fresh, local ingredients. Grilled cheese sandwiches are tasty stovetop options, and for fledgling chefs unsure of the stove, ham and cheese sandwiches are equally delicious.

Close-up of grilled cheese and bowl of tomato soup.

Crock-Pot Experiments

My roommate excels at Crock Pot dinners. One of our favorites is loaded BBQ Baked Potatoes. She combines BBQ sauce and thawed ground turkey in our Crock Pot. Then, she can leave it on low until she needs to bake the potatoes, which she can do in the microwave.

Another go-to recipe for her is meatballs and gravy. She makes an easy base sauce with cream of mushroom soup, milk, and a spoonful of sour cream. After she adds premade frozen meatballs, it can cook until it’s time to serve. Additionally, the possible seasonings on this dish are very forgiving. She gives this dish a shake of garlic, onion, and pepper.

We love using Crock Pot liners to cut down on the mess and make cleaning up easier.

Slow cooker on kitchen counter,

Still worried about starting a fire when you turn on the stove? Head to Market Table for our delicious, healthy, fully prepared meals, sandwiches, salads and catering options. You can even pretend you made them yourself — we promise we won’t tell.

How to Avoid Dinner Disasters

How to Avoid Dinner Disasters


The great Julia Child once said, “The dinner hour is a sacred, happy time when everyone should be together and relaxed.” You might be thinking that it’s easy for a professional chef to find cooking relaxing, especially as you smell something burning and see a pot overflowing. What’s “happy” and “sacred” about that? However, there are ways to avoid dinner disasters to keep the peace between your meal time and your sanity.

Text by Sarah Vice

Shocked Young Woman Looking At Burnt Cookies In Oven.

Serve Simple Dishes

You don’t have to make an extravagant meal to get someone’s attention. Try focusing on a family recipe that you’ve loved since you can remember — or borrow one from this site. If you want to make something simple that looks like it requires more effort, make a pizza from scratch. By “scratch,” I don’t mean you have to let the yeast rise and cure your own mozzarella. Make it from sort-of scratch. Buy a pizza crust, tomato sauce, and your toppings of choice from your local grocer. This helps you avoid frozen pizza, which sometimes contain preservatives. Plus, by not ordering pizza, you save some major pennies. Not a pizza fan? Sounds fake, but okay. Sometimes a simple bowl of spaghetti can go a long way if you’re pairing it with the right garlic bread and salad.

Family enjoys spaghetti dinner.

Prepare Ahead

Try taking preemptive measures. Understand how long a meal takes to prepare and cook before you agree on when and what to eat. Uncover your strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen and use them to your advantage. Don’t underestimate your ability to be crafty. Measuring isn’t your natural talent? Send any extra portions home as a parting gift with your guests. You discover you’re exceptional at chopping? Great, you can cook chicken noodle soup with fresh vegetables or make scalloped potatoes. Preparing your meal plan ahead of time is also useful in making sure you have all the ingredients required to cook your dish of choice.

Father and daughter read recipes on iPad.

Set the Table

When hosting a party or even having family meals, sitting around a table can help create stronger bonds. Make an effort to set the table before cooking. You can even get your kids — or guests! — to help. It gives you more time to talk about your kids’ days — or to keep cooking if guests arrive early. You also won’t have to stress over not having things in order. Offer to fill their glasses or have a selection of drinks readily available to them.

Happy extended family setting outdoor table.

Pre-Made Meals

Practice isn’t honing your chef skills to your liking? There is no shame in ordering take-out, catering, or purchasing a pre-made meal. Take-out can be an option if you’re running late to your own dinner and don’t have time to preheat the oven much less put a meal in. But if you’re looking for a more nutritional option that carries the comfort of a home-cooked meal, check out pre-made dinners. Market Table also offers pre-prepared lunches and catering services to fit all your needs.

Vegetable Soup Heals the Soul

Vegetable Soup Heals the Soul


There’s something comforting about a warm vegetable soup when you’re feeling down, especially when it’s made with love and cornbread. That’s just how my mother always makes it — and how her mother made it before her.

Text by Sarah Vice
Mother lets daughter taste cooking soup.

Me Against the Tree

When I was six years old, I mistakenly targeted a tree with my bike and tumbled off. I had a bruise the size of Alabama on my chin — and three less teeth in my mouth. When I finally got out of the dentist’s office, my mother prepared some of her famous vegetable soup. I stuck around the kitchen while she washed the vegetables and peeled off their skins. She then poured buttermilk into a bowl of cornmeal and stirred. Despite the numbness in my mouth and the drool dripping onto my shirt, I was at peace watching her work.

First Love = First Broken Heart

When I was twelve, I had my first real crush. A boy name Kelvin confessed his feelings for me. By the next day, he started dating someone else. I cried to my mother about the boy who broke my heart. She marched straight to the kitchen to see if we had any vegetables. This time, I helped her peel the skins and mix the cornmeal and buttermilk.

Mother and daughter peel vegetables for soup.

Loss and Love

When I was eighteen, I realized I didn’t have the money to pay for college. My parents were taking care of my three brothers so they couldn’t help financially. My mom made our special soup for dinner that night. I asked her why she always chose soup instead of ice cream, because it seemed like frozen treats were the go-to comfort food for most people. She just smiled and said it was to bring warmth to my heart and nutrients to my soul. The cornbread was just a bonus.

Ladle of vegetable soup.

Now, whenever I’m unsettled, I go home and fill a pot with cleaned vegetables and beef stock. I mix up a batter of cornbread and place it in the oven. The simple motions of making the hearty meal reminds me of my mother’s love and patience.

Vegetable soup heals me, without fail. It reminds me that even the simplest of things can make a positive difference in our lives. And when I’m too tired even to cook, I’ve found that Market Table’s vegetable soup is close to my mother’s recipe (don’t worry, Mom — yours is still the best!). I try not to dwell on the negatives as much as possible these days. Not when there’s always soup to feed my soul.

End A Bad Day On A High Note

End A Bad Day On A High Note

When everything goes wrong, let Market Table be your BFF.

Today was one of those days that most moms know well… A day where all of your scheduling, planning ahead and organization efforts are rendered futile, your children transform into demons, and the world seems to work against you in every way. And it all happened before 8am.

I’ll spare you most of the gory details and give a quick recap. My morning looked something like this:

Woke up. Immediately sensed something was amiss. Stepped in a pile of poop that the puppy so graciously left at my bedside. How thoughtful. On to get the kids up. My youngest is already awake, and he’s covered himself in diaper cream. Fantastic. We’ll let the husband deal with that one. My oldest is awake, happy, but has some major goop seeping out of a bloodshot eye — pink eye. Wonderful. Looks like she’ll be tagging along to that 10 a.m. meeting. Next up is breakfast, where all hell breaks loose. Both kids are suddenly screaming and utterly heartbroken because they’re being forced to eat blueberry muffins … the same blueberry muffins they refused to leave the grocery store without just one day prior. Curious how things change so fast. Breakfast is followed by tantrums regarding one not wanting to wear rain boots and the other needing a specific pink colored bow that we can’t seem to find (not sure we ever even owned) but MUST wear today or we will die.

Finally, we’re out the door and on our way. And then the car won’t start. Dead battery. Glorious.  

At that point, I wanted so badly to throw my hands up, cry “Uncle!” and have someone else take over for the day. But I’m a mom. We don’t have the luxury of giving up on a bad day and hiding in a cave where no one can find us. So, I did my best to muddle through the rest of the day. After a late afternoon doctor’s appointment for eye drops, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get dinner on the table in time. But then I remembered: there is help out there. At least, help for dinner.

A 3-minute stop into Market Table, and I had chicken fingers and mac & cheese for the kids, a slow-smoked pork belly and cauliflower fried rice for the husband, and a bottle (ok … two bottles) of wine for myself. Done, done and done.

So, as I sit here with that (second) bottle of wine, just know that no matter how badly your day goes, it can always end well with Market Table.