Connect while Social Distancing: Cook Online with a Loved One

cooking

by MFLN Military Caregiving contributor Alicia Cassels, MA.

Share a meal online with a loved one.

This week my sister and I did something that we have talked about, yet somehow never found time to do. We made pasta together. More precisely, my sister taught me how to make pasta. Although we are separated by nearly 400 miles, for 90 minutes the miles separating us disappeared as we kneaded and shaped pasta, discussed options for toppings, and enjoyed our finished dishes together online. It was as though we were in the same kitchen, and the experience provided a much-needed lift for our spirits.

Regular mealtimes which are shared provide a sense of rhythm and regularity in lives. They offer a sense of containment and familiarity and can evoke deep feelings of contentment and security. Humans need structure and routine. Mealtimes offer people the opportunity to stop, to stand still psychologically, to reflect on their day and days ahead, and to listen to and interact with others. Mealtimes are also a grounding opportunity, a time when anxieties can be expressed, and you can be listened to. Mental Health Foundation UK 

The simple act of sharing a meal, whether cooking with family, going to a restaurant with a friend, or eating in the office lunchroom, provides the opportunity for a special type of human connection and helps fulfill important physical, social, and emotional needs. Cooking and eating together, rituals that we have had to temporarily surrender during this period of social distancing, are among the activities that many of us have missed most in the preceding weeks. With a little creativity and internet access, it is possible to achieve some of the things we love about cooking and eating with friends and loved ones, even while we are physically apart. If you do not currently have an online connection platform, no worries. Reliable options for connecting online are available at no cost. Harvard Health Publishing provides an excellent overview of several free options in a recent blog article.

After years of putting it off, my sister and I gathered the items required to make our meals. The pasta itself required nothing more than flour, salt, and eggs. We set up our cooking stations and ingredients, connected virtually, and engaged in making dinner together. For more than an hour, we were connected, engrossed in an activity that allowed us to laugh, experiment, and shed our worries. The resulting meal was much less important than the experience. My sister, an experienced pasta maker produced beautiful ravioli.

Inspired to share a meal across the miles?

If you would find yourself very unhappy to be buried elbow deep in flour, pasta making may not be ideal for you. Instead, you may enjoy an activity like, “Ultimate pizza creations”. A little pre-made crust or French bread and few well-placed sauces and toppings might provide just the right opportunity for creativity and connection as you create your meal. The only ingredients that truly matter include you and those with whom you are sharing the meal. Below are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Identify a recipe or theme. This can be as easy or as advanced as you wish.
  • Email or text the recipe and ingredient list (if one is needed) to your virtual meal partners.
  • Establish a date and time that will work well.
  • Schedule your meeting via the online connection option of your choice (Skype, Webex, Zoom, etc.).
  • Be sure to establish enough light for quality video transmission and ensure a good quality internet connection.
  • Set up your cooking station and ingredients, connect virtually, and enjoy the experience in the company of your virtual meal partners!

Connect with us. 

Share your virtual meal sharing ideas and experiences in the comments section below! 

Even while social distancing, you are not alone.

If you experience overwhelming loneliness or severely depressed mood help is available. Reach out to your medical professional today. If you are experiencing suicidal or troubling thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

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