Sunday Lunch

When I was growing up, Sunday lunch was always a big deal. We didn’t go out to eat very much, so Mama always fixed a big ole meal after church. I remember roast with carrots and potatoes as a staple, but fried chicken, beef stroganoff, turkey and ham were also in the rotation – with lots of fresh vegetables on the side. And rolls. Always rolls. OH SWEET MERCY THE ROLLS.

If we weren’t eating at Mama and Daddy’s house on Sundays, it was usually because we were having a big family lunch at my aunt’s house. We did this more times than I can remember; my aunt would fix her meal and Mama would fix her meal and then we’d combine everything into a gigantor family potluck. When my grandparents were alive they’d join the fun, too, and my Mamaw Davis would bring a homemade chocolate pie or her homemade apple tarts or some other dessert that would make you weep by virtue of its sheer deliciousness. There was never a shortage of sweet tea or coffee, and after lunch the grown-ups would sit around the big table and visit while the kids ran around outside or walked down to the Jitney Jr. to buy some gum. Or maybe even some Bit-O-Honeys if we were feeling particularly crazy.

A piece of candy cost two cents, by the way. TWO CENTS. Which means that if you were in possession of a whole quarter, you could just about afford to send yourself into a post-candy sugar coma.

It was a simpler time.

And just so you know, now I’m all teary-eyed just from thinking about my Mamaw and Papaw Davis. WHEN DID MY BRAIN TURN INTO A HALLMARK COMMERCIAL?

For whatever reason, I’ve never really latched on to the Sunday lunch tradition since I’ve been the one doing the cooking. I cook all during the week, and occasionally I’ll make a big pot of red beans and rice or chili or something on Saturday night, but I typically leave Sunday lunch to the the experts at the restaurants. We don’t have family here, and we’re too far away from everybody to just hop over to my hometown for a Sunday meal, so eating out has been a pretty practical solution.

A few weeks ago – seemingly out of nowhere – I decided that I wanted to make a big ole Sunday lunch. Roast and carrots. Mashed potatoes. English peas. Homemade chocolate pudding. But since that much food is way too much food for three people, I texted my friend Leigh to see if she and her family wanted to join us. Leigh and her husband are originally from Mississippi, too – were even at Ole Miss the same time my brother was – and Leigh and I love to swap Southern stories. Hers are always the best.

Anyway, Leigh and her family came over for Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago, and it was so much fun. They didn’t get to stay for long after we finished eating because we were under a WINTER STORM WARNING and there’s a small mountain in between our house and theirs, but I loved every single thing about having company on a Sunday. I loved using my pretty dishes, cleaning up afterwards, having some tasty leftovers for supper – the whole thing. It reminded me of how I grew up. And more than anything else, it was comforting to spend part of the afternoon with friends who feel like family.

Today is D’s birthday, and last week I thought that instead of cooking him a big birthday supper – which is what I normally do – I was going to cook him a big Sunday birthday lunch. Leigh and her family came over again, and I pulled out my favorite green dishes. We had pork tenderloin, cheese grits, squash casserole, butterbeans and rolls (OH HAVE MERCY THE ROLLS). I fixed D’s favorite tres leches cake for dessert. After we ate Leigh and I sat at the dining room table and drank coffee while the fellas went into the den and talked about electronics and movies and whatnot.

When we finally got up to start tackling the dishes, we realized it was 3:30 and couldn’t believe it. We’d spent over two hours talking about everything and nothing: the sermon we heard this morning, our young’uns, our ish-ahs, our TV habits, and so much more. There’s just something about eating a meal together in the middle of the day – with a whole big afternoon stretching out before you – that slows down the pace of life a little bit. And I’m not exactly sure why it’s taken me thirteen and a half years of marriage to figure that out.

After our company left and I loaded the last of the plates into the dishwasher, I walked into the den where D was in the process of rescuing some soldiers from a rogue alien army on the Xbox, and I made a proclamation.

“THAT,” I said, “was DELIGHTFUL. And I think from here on out – at least a couple of times a month – I’m going to make a big ole lunch on Sundays, and we’ll just invite whoever comes to mind.”

“I think that sounds great,” he said.

And so that’s our plan.

What about y’all? Do you go out to lunch on Sundays? Or do you cook a big meal? Do you have people over? Do you get together with your extended family? Do you remember the Sunday lunch traditions from your childhood? I’m strangely curious.

And if you feel led to share any favorite menu ideas, well, you just go right ahead.

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  1. You are making me smile, thinking of my big Italian family, who would get together for spaghetti, meatballs, and iceberg lettuce with oil and red wine vinegar every single Sunday at 1. If the Phillies or Eagles were on, so was the game, but that Sunday lunch was sacrosanct and I miss it still. My grandmother was one of six kids, all in their late fifties and sixties when I was little, and at least four of them plus spouses were together every single Sunday. I loved the ones when we came along too. Even the weeks we weren’t there, we usually called, because we could say hi to everyone at once. It was a beautiful thing. Here’s to you, enjoying many happy Sundays from here!

  2. So totally agree!! Some of my best memories are Sunday dinners at Mom’s house with all the family, or with my step-mama making her delicious lasagna and little bowls of salad with croutons and chopped eggs. The planning and preparing on Saturday afternoon and evening, setting the table, making sweet tea and setting it on the counter with a lid of saran wrap… Good memories!!

    I also think there’s less emphasis on making ‘fancy’ food or table settings, and more emphasis on the true fellowship aspect of it.


  3. We go to my folks house every Sunday where my sweet Momma cooks a big meal.
    She’s a working grandma, but LOVES to be ‘just Mimi’ on the weekend.
    Seriously, it seems like when we had children she suddenly become the Mimi that was force feeding you every time you turned around.
    But, let’s face it, we wouldn’t want it any other way! :)

  4. You make it all sound really nice!!! But, not very practical for my family. We are at chuch for almost 4 hours on Sunday morning, so by the time we get home the LAST thing I want to do is cook a big meal or entertain guest. My first thought is, how quickly can I crawl in the bed for a Sunday afternoon nap! I prefer eating out after church. We’re dressed up and we’re out, that makes it easy. But, my hubby never wants to eat out. So, we give and take. If we do come home I whip up something simple egg burritos or soup, then I’m off for my nap! Enjoy your Sunday lunches!!

  5. I love the thought of it, but here’s my question – how do you make it happen? My people want food on the table within 10 minutes of walking through the door from church. If I can get the nuggets out of the McDonald’s bag in time, I’ve succeeded. I can remember my grandmother making big Sunday lunches as a child, but I have NO IDEA how she did it. Seriously – how do you get it done?

  6. I’m with you on the old Sunday traditions. When I was little we would eat lunch at one of my grandmother’s homes or my aunt’s house a lot. My husband was raised the same way – Sunday lunch at home. But somehow we have made the tradition of always going out to eat for lunch on Sundays. I think it started when we married because when you’re in the ministry, church is a different level of responsibility. The thought of cooking a meal, even though I love to cook, just seemed overwhelming with all of the other things I had to do at church. Going out to eat was kind of my reward for cooking all week! But now that my kids are older and I don’t always feel so overwhelmed, I’m thinking we need to change it up a little bit. I think you’re on to something! I still don’t know if I could have my house “company ready” on Sundays though!

  7. I am a Yankee Catholic. We don’t really do a big Sunday lunch, or lunch as a big meal. I love the plan of staying home, cooking meals and enjoying time with friends or family (whoever you like better!). I love a homemade meal.

  8. We alternate – you know, with so many good choices in B’ham, how can you NOT eat out some? haha! Sometimes we pick up Popeye’s and bring it home, sometimes head to Chuy’s/PF Changs if I’m picking, Olive Garden if my daughter has her pick. :/
    When we eat at home, I do a lot of chicken picatta, Frank Stitt’s chicken scalloppini, tenderloin on the grill, sweet potato casserole, green beans, etc. Today we had grilled jerk chicken with a mango/lime salsa, roasted potatoes, Greek-style green beans, and toasted french bread. Yum! I did the salsa before we left and got the chicken marinating, but everything else went together quickly. We were eating in 30 mins.

  9. my grandmother started the tradition in our family. she had 4 daughters so they grew up to be pretty good cooks and we all brought food to my grandparent’s house after church on sunday to eat. mamaw was always generous about inviting the preacher too. now, since i live in the most central location, i have all my aunts, uncles and cousins over for sunday lunch. it is the BEST time. we wouldn’t normally see each other during the week so this gives us time to talk and catch up and just keeps us close. and it gives my kids an opportunity to know their family. really know them. i was so close to my cousins growing up and my kids don’t have as many as i did. i cherish our sunday dinners.

  10. i just read nichole’s comment, how do you make it happen. it starts the night before. i prepare my casserole, get my roast ready to cook, bake a cake or mashed potatoes, whatever i’m planning for that day and get most of it done the night before. i set the timer on my oven and by the time we walk in from church the men turn on sports and the women pull it all together. everyone brings stuff so it’s not one person’s big responsibility. (i do have to clean my house though.)

  11. I love a big ole Sunday lunch, but I rarely make it for my family. Sad, isn’t it? I grew up w/the whole she-bang…roast, potatoes, carrots, gravy, salad, rolls…YUM!

    I live in NE Kansas and always got the strangest looks from my friends when I talked about my Mamaw, Papaw and Maw-maw. My 83 year old Mamaw is from Baton Rouge and just a fiesty little thing!

    Thanks for stirring up some great memories!

  12. Just tell me when you want the Shraders over! My heart would so love a big ole Sunday dinner with y’all….

  13. On Sundays it is usually just me and the hubbo for lunch. However, we have two friends that we rotate dinner with on Wednesday night after church. One week we cook. Someone else has it the next week. Then the next week is the other friend. On the fourth week, we eat out. It is a fun way for us to be together and kind of save $ while we are at it.

  14. yes, it is wonderful to have Sunday lunch, isn’t it? We do try to have friends over, even church visitors but it does take some of Saturday to be ready. However, I will say that the crockpot is your best friend for Sunday lunch, even when you aren’t having someone over…Nothing like coming home from church and having your meal done for you, at least the main part. It smells good, and it’s done! LOVE that……

  15. Dump your roast, carrots, potatoes and seasonings all in the CROCK POT on Sat. PM and when you walk in after BIG church on Sun, the entire house is smelling delicious! Also, don’t forget the REAL butter for those rolls Soph! ;)

  16. I love this post…touching, heart-warming, simple…and now I am starving! Thanks! :) We usually do the Sunday lunch thing with my husband’s mom and brother. (My parents live 2 hours away!) We all share in the responsibility. Sometimes I do all the cooking. Sometimes my mother in law cooks the roast/potato/carrot combo in the crock pot. Sometimes I cook and she provides dessert. Sometimes we go out to eat. Sometimes we get food from a grocery store’s yummy deli and come back to our house. Sometimes there is dessert and sometimes there is not. (Those are the times that I cry.) We enjoy spending a few hours together reliving the past week, looking forward to a new one, playing games, visiting, etc. It’s always a nice time, and a tradition I hope to continue for as long as I am able. Sunday lunches are definitely the best. And I am all for hopping on a plane from Lubbock, Texas to enjoy lunch with you on a lazy, slow-paced Sunday! I will bring a chocolate cobbler. You will love it. (But…….just in case this said meeting never works out, you can find the chocolate cobbler recipe here):
    It is super-dee-duper-knock-your-socks-off delicious!
    Happy week to you!

  17. I love Sunday lunch and in my childhood it was either at Mam-ma’s house or a Mexican food restaurant. :-) I preferred Mam-ma’s because it would turn into the long lazy afternoon with football, Sunday paper ads/comics and naps. If I cook Sunday lunch for my family it is always pot roast/potatoes and carrots or roasted chicken w/ potatoes and carrots and I love that smell when I walk in the door. Pie is always a wonderful completion to the meal and for our family that pie is usually apple. One time I invited some British friends to enjoy Sunday dinner with us and it gave me one of my favorite laugh-out-loud memories. I served iced tea with the meal and our visitor (who managed a tea production company, mind you) rushed into the kitchen raving over the iced tea and said I must give his wife the recipe! :-) I said, “make tea. add ice” :-) He said he would have never imagined tea to taste so good, cold. :-)

  18. Penne Hatcher says:

    You made me cry – in a good way!! I am originally from Texas (DFW area) and we used to have Moms Sunday Lunch #1, #2, #3 & #4. We would often share these meals with family & friends. Only in later life did we go to restaurants on Sundays after church.

    While my parents, aunts uncles & cousins still live in Texas, my husband, kids & I live in Santiago, Chile. Here Sunday lunch after church is a whole new ballgames, but I am working on spreading the southern idea of how to do it!

    Many restaurants here are closed on Sundays, so I usually cook. We also try to have people in our home every Sunday. Sounds a little stressful (and sometimes it is), but it is so worth it! Because church does not get out here until 1:30pm or so (sometimes later!!) my biggest challenge is what to cook that doesn’t take too long. (This country does not have any kind of crockpot things or timers on ovens. My mother was famous for getting her roast ready and using theoven timer to turn it on so that everything would be ready by the time we got home from church!) Add that to the fact that I have what I affectionately call my “easy bake oven” – it is that small -and only a 4 burner stove which is too small to actually allow a pot on all four burners, we frequently do any and all things casserole. This allows me to put it together the night before and then just heat the oven and pop it in after church. (And eating as soon as possible but usually not before 2:00pm!! My kids are a wreck!!) We will have a green salad and a veg or two. Also, the homemade desserts are much simpler – frequently fresh fruit – but I will occassionally break down and make a peach cobbler or something like that. My family loves it, but the Chileans think we Americans (“gringos”) are crazy.

    What I really love about eating on Sundays here is Chile is the pace. It is slow!! When we go to other people’s homes for lunch or dinner (not on Sundays), they frequently don’t start cooking anything until ALL the guests arrive. This means that I also carry a full on meal for my kids who are not willing to wait 3 hours after arriving to eat! Due to this pace it is not uncommon to share lunch on Sunday and then dinner on Sunday with THE SAME PEOPLE because they stay so long. Not really a problem (now), but interesting. When you invite people for lunch here it is a LONG affair lasting until 7:30 or 8:00pm (or later in the summer when it doesn’t get dark until later). Quite the culteral experience!!

    Though I am looking forward to Mom’s Sunday Lunch #1, #2 and maybe #3 with a restaurant thrown in when we return to the states in 2014!!

  19. Ironically we just had pot roast for Sunday dinner yesterday! My Hubby has a new coworker in the lab and wanted to make him feel welcome. Usually if it’s just us we eat leftovers from the week and plan what we want to eat the following week. Sunday evenings are usually when I do prep work for any meals that can be made ahead for the week so I don’t always want to cook lunch. But, our church small group meets Wednesday evenings and we usually do a potluck style meal. Sometimes it’s fancier and they will pick a theme ingredient (Iron Chef style) othertimes we go for easy (tacos, breakfast). I love the fellowship of eating a meal together!

  20. YES!! I grew up with the big Sunday dinner.

    In the convent – the noon meal is our main meal every day. Sundays we try to make it special with fancier desserts and main dishes (NO leftovers served on Sundays!). This is the meal where we most often invite guests to join us.

    There is something sacred about sharing a meal with people. Christ shared himself with the apostles as bread and wine. We strive, as the discliples on the road to Emmaus, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread with one another.

  21. We’ve loved hosting people as well. We made it part of our New Year’s Resolution to have one family from church to our home at least once a month. We even made a list. And the friends who normally come over, the ones that are such close friends that I don’t have to clean the house? They don’t count. :) So, at the end of the year we will have had 12 NEW families to our house for dinner. I’d encourage you to look for the large family (they never get invited anywhere, people are intimidated by a passel o’ young’uns), the “uncool” or the newer families who aren’t plugged in to your church and invite them. Everyone will be thrilled that you did!

  22. I remember Sunday meals with friends around the table. Our house was the house that all the friends wanted to come to for dinner. Mom always made extra food just in case someone extra showed up. Great memories. My Nana and Mom would make so much food but the rolls and cornbread were my favorite. I would choose the rolls over dessert any day.

    Our family today, Sunday dinners after church are the best. Yesterday, I put a roast in the crock pot(with carrots) before we left for church and I also cooked a pot of green beans. When we came home all we had to do was mash potatoes and cook the rolls. It was a delicious dinner. Afterwards, turned football on and took my Sunday nap on the couch.

    I am the queen of drive-thru and I am not above drive-thru for Sunday lunch. lol

    It just depends on what’s going on as to what we do for Sunday lunch.

    Happy Belated birthday to your D. :)

  23. I always dreamed I would serve Sunday lunch to my family. And when my husband was a pastor, we loved having families over after church for lunch.
    I sometimes felt so exhausted after lunch/clean up were over! And then there is the getting house and meal ready on Saturday, the Sunday morning rush with getting kids ready, meal prepped, etc. I felt like I needed Mondays off. Not sure how to maintain the practice of a day of ‘rest’ and still accomplish Sunday dinner (of course it is restful and nourishing for our families, but how does Mom take time for her soul during all this?). Cooking is my favorite thing to do, and what I always gravitate towards when I am tired or stressed, but the whole Event of Sunday lunch scares me now, that my whole fam will pay for it come Monday. Any ideas of how to manage this?

  24. Growing up we usually always had roast w/ carrots and potatos and rice and gravy for lunch on Sundays. My mom would put it in the oven and it would cook while we were at church. It’s one of my favorite “smell” memories…walking into the house after church to that yummy roast cooking.

    We usually have lunch at home on Sundays or at my parents. I cook roast often, because it’s easy in the crockpot and always turns out amazing. My mom and I switch off making the main dish and hosting. We do sometimes go out, but it’s a lot more relaxed and enjoyable just being at home.

  25. Melanie E. says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this very thing myself, soon. We usually go out to eat every Sunday lunch (I didn’t get to grow up with the big lunch tradition, just a normal meal.) but it used to always be with church friends. Now some of the church friends have gotten where they can’t afford to go out anymore (stupid construction industry!) so it’s awkward for a group to go out and leave them out – so if anyone does go out, it’s always individual families. I really miss getting to spend a relaxed meal with everyone.

    Just gotta clean up the house first! :-O

  26. We used to have a big ol’ Sunday lunch too, but I feel like I just don’t have it in me (I just open the fridge and pull out whatever’s in there). It sounds like a lovely idea though, and I will hold on to it until I’ve been married 13.5 years (we’re at 13.05 right now).

  27. There is nothing more relaxing than coming home from worship on Sunday to sit down as a family with a big lunch. None of our family live close enough to join us so it is usually just the four of us. I make good use of the grill the day before or the crock pot on Sunday morning. I usually get up before anyone else in my household to get everything prepped before we leave for church. We rotate different chicken casseroles, roast beef, pork tenderloin, and along with our favorite southern vegetables (Ex. Poppyseed Chicken Casserole served over brown rice, stewed squash with onions, green beans). In the winter we enjoy soups or stews with homemade biscuits or cornbread and a fruit salad that I prepare the night before. If I serve dessert, I keep it simple, Apple Crisp or Fudge Pie. We occassionally eat out every 6th Sunday or so. We use Sunday afternoons as a time to rest and recharge. Home is the best place to do this. As a child, my family always enjoyed a big Sunday lunch at my grandmothers after church. You brought back some wonderful memories for me.

  28. When I was growing up, we ALWAYS had Sunday dinner at the house (or a friends house). Then I went to college…and well, it stopped. Now that I’m back in town, it has still ceased existing and we head to the local dining establishments (here lately the new hospital in the area – it makes a 27 year old feel like their hanging out with the Senior Adults – no offense Senior Adults, I like you, really I do.) From time to time – Christmas and Easter – we can talk mom in to having Sunday Dinner, but it’s a treasured rarity indeed.

  29. I often fast on Sundays – growing up we did have the big ole’ Sunday lunch, just like proper Southerners (although I was raised in Iowa). Now I use Sunday as a day to eliminate the physical and focus on the spiritual. I cook fairly big meals during the weeknights and with just the little ones to feed, there is enough leftovers to make a meal on Sunday after church.

    Now, we DO sit at the table and fancy-it-up, going out to eat is a rarity for us!

  30. I am so glad you wrote this, because for a while now, I’ve been on a “Bring Back Sunday Lunch” kick. We live in a very small town(Dalhart, Tx) with few restaurant options, so Sunday lunch at home is the preferable option. However, for years my husband and I drove the hour to Amarillo for church on Saturday nights(this was pre-children), and then would have just a big breakfast on Sunday morning. With our kids growing and our duh realization that we need church community WITHIN our small town, we are now going to a new little church here – one that we are so excited about – and it has necessitated the need, desire, and delight in a homemade Sunday lunch.
    I love this post, and like you and all the other commenters, it brings back so many memories of Sundays with my family and grandparents. I can still see my great-grandmother (Grandmommie) walking in at her 4’11” height with her arms full of homemade whole-wheat rolls. We still can’t get that recipe right.
    I am stirred up now with tears.
    Thank you!!!

  31. I just have to say, “I love those Sunday moments with family!” They are priceless! I encourage you to celebrate them in any way you can. BTW: miss those podcasts! What a great team . . . I have to know, have you ever really found the perfect mascara?

  32. Am I the only one that calls Sunday lunch, “Sunday dinner”? I’m in Michigan and we all pretty much think of the big meal after church on Sunday as Sunday dinner. Even though you might eat “dinner” later that night . I usually call that meal supper.

    I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but we always had a big Sunday dinner and everyone took naps afterward. Today, we don’t really do too much. It’s just me & hubby; I usually fix something decent that takes about 1/2 hr to make, but not fancy or anything. Once in awhile we go out to eat and then my favorite part — the nap!

  33. Your post brought back fond memories of my mama’s cooking on Sunday. I too came from a large Italian family and every Sunday the aroma of fried chicken, spagatti and meatballs, fresh baked rolls and potato salad. (my mom made the best potato salad in the world) would fill the air. My aunts, uncles, and cousins lived close by so we’d all gather for a large family dinner either at our house of one of theirs. Sunday was the best day of the week because of those famly dinners and I miss them.

  34. I grew up having the roast/potatoes/carrots Sunday dinner. Walking into the house after church and smelling that still makes me feel like a kid. I cook a big meal once in a blue moon on Sundays. More often we have leftovers or just whatever we can find. Sometimes we go to my in-laws house with the extended family and everyone brings something to add to the meal. We have all been thinking we need to do the big meal more often – thanks for the encouragement! :)

  35. We go to church in a neighboring town, roughly 35 mins. away. So – we usually go out to eat. It kills me, because part of me really wants to be Sabbatarian, but the part of me that wants to ride home 35 mins. without hearing screams of, “I’m dying of hunger!”, wins out.

    We have been getting together with friends for a big ole Sunday night supper recently. I make a few things, she makes a few things, and we throw them all out on a table, fix plates, and watch football.

    I totally agree with you – that Sundays are for visiting. We stay so busy throughout the week, it’s impossible to eat a meal and really visit with anyone. Sundays are perfect for it.

  36. Although it can be a hassle it is so worth it to cook and have people over. The memories are worth more than gold.

  37. Yesterday after church I had a gigantic crock-pot of soup that had been brewing since Saturday evening. You are right…it would have been nice to share it with some good company. But with the reality of snotty-nosed crabby kids and a messy house, I got out the mason jars. I poured up quarts of leftovers and delivered it to a couple of neighbors. Almost as good as a long Sunday visit in my living room. Alas, someone’s tinkertoys and discarded underwear are still there in the floor!

  38. We still have young’uns that are nap dependent (and about to add another!) but I’d love to institute Sunday Lunch someday – I have too many pretty dishes not to! And I really enjoy cooking and visiting with sweet people.
    Maybe in a few years.
    One of my fav sun lunch menus was always garlic/honey baked salmon (like 20 minutes inthe oven) , baked sweet potatoes (baked on low while @ church), steamed broccolie doused in butter and ice cream sundaes…

    so simple and so good!

  39. Great post! Since the start of football sundays it has always been a day for us to enjoy food and friends. Dips are extremely popular and one of us always makes something delicious in the crockpot. Also can I just say that I am so relieved and amused to hear that your husband plays the killing games on XBOX, because my fiance is 25 and I was starting to think he was stuck in adolescence or had some disorder. How they can play for six or seven hours at a time, I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. If us women did ANYTHING for stretches of time like that they would have us committed!

  40. A big Sunday lunch (or dinner!) after church is a wonderful idea but I can appreciate those who feel overwhelmed about how to make it happen. I’ve learned to keep it simple. Think crock pot main dish, bread from the bakery and salad from a bag. Sunday can be a very lonely day for many people; particularly singles. Back in my single days, I remember going home to an empty apartment after all of the hustle and bustle of Sunday morning worship, making a sandwich, sitting by myself and trying not to have a “pity party”! So just keep it easy; clean your bathroom, toss the clutter in a clothes basket and close off the rooms you won’t have time to clean. Invite some folks who might need and enjoy some company. Pick the lunch up and bring it home if that works better (we just did take-out fried chicken yesterday. I am a northern girl with a southern girl’s heart!).

  41. My husband and I are the outliers of both our families. My brothers and families eat together with my parents on Sundays (two hours away), and my husband’s sister eats with their parents on Sundays (two hours in the other direction). How I miss it so. Lately I’ve started making a lot of food for Sunday dinner (whatever I’ve put in the oven or crockpot) so that if we run into someone at church, I can feel free to invite them over. It’s been like a game to see who we can invite. Games sure have changed in my 30s.

  42. i love this. i was thinking about the EXACT same thing yesterday. we typically eat out after church, but i’m wondering if my heart doesn’t want to go the way of the big sunday supper. :0)

    last year we began doing sunday supper at my husband’s grandmother’s after church, and she’d cook a h-u-u-ge Mexican spread. (there’s nothing in the world like abuelita’s pork chops!) but Christmas got in the way. but we’ll be starting it all up again in the next couple of weeks!

  43. Mary Kat's Mom says:

    I wish I had a big Sunday lunch story but ours consisted of IHOP Pancake Combo today. It usually is a bowl of soup from Panera but I do remember doing the Big Sunday Lunch thing when I was much younger and it makes me choke and want to cry so I’ll stop thinking about it. Also, I am so with D on the Tres Leche Cake! ! ! I made it after seeing the recipe from Ree and I was the only one who liked it but I must saying eating that entire cake was so much fun! Happy Birthday, D!

  44. Nelson's Mama says:

    We’d go to my grandmother’s or my great grandmother’s for Sunday dinner (noon meal around these parts) immediately after church. Sometimes we’d have roast or fried chicken and we’d always have fresh vegetables out of the garden – sliced tomatoes and cucumbers & onions in vinegar!

    The leftovers would be put in the cold oven and saved for supper; nobody worried about putting anything in the fridge and my favorite part was eating the leftovers later! Call me crazy, but I love them!

  45. Yes, I am carrying on the tradition that my mother and her mother before her did on Sunday’s. Since I’m from MS you may not be surprised but I have always cooked a big meal on Sunday and my children always knew that they could invite whomever they wanted to come home with us from church. One time I was working a lot of overtime and I talked to my son (who is 34 now) about the time I was spending away from them. He said and I will never forget this, the times that are important to me and I think about as home are when we take vacations together and Sunday’s. That just blew me away, he said Sunday’s. I had really never thought before about it being so special but we always sat and talked and usually everyone was lazy and together until time to go back to church in the evening.

    I still cook and they come as in “Fields of Dreams”, so I’m thankful for redeeming some of the time in a way that makes and promotes good memories of home for my children.

  46. I love this post!!! Brings back some wonderful memories! It’s made me cry but I still love it. I’m with Carol………when can you have the Matheney’s over? We could take our turn in the summer since I teach school and would be more available. It’s a long drive from southern Ohio :) I would bring the fixin’s for whatever you wanted. BTW……I love Bit O’ Honeys, too. But, I’m older than you. I remember when they were a penny a piece.

    I can’t imagine Leigh’s stories being better than yours. I think yours are the best! I always laugh out loud while reading yours. My family knows I’m reading your latest update when they hear me in hysterics at the computer.

  47. This post brought me back to my early years of motherhood. My family (including my now ex-husband) would go to my parents’ house and eat. Sometimes roast & mashed potatoes with veggies, sometimes fried chicken & potato salad and other trimmings, other times spaghetti. This list was endless. We would play cards for a while and sometimes squeeze in a nap before Sunday evening church. Those were the days of Sunday evening church.

    I miss those days of getting together and eating and laughing and just hanging out. Life was indeed a bit slower at least on Sunday.

    On Sundays now, sometimes we will meet my parents for lunch. Usually Chinese. They attend a different church than we do so we often meet in Baton Rouge. But mostly we eat at home. But it’s usually a quick lunch. Every now and then I cook a big meal. Now that my own family is growing with a married daughter and her family, it’s nice to get together. But sadly, life doesn’t seem to slow down. I think I’ll let your post sink in and remind me of those Sundays of old so that maybe I, too, can at least pick one Sunday a month to have a big ole’ meal, family and friends and maybe even a card game or two.

    Now I’m thinking about Rascal Flatts, I Miss Mayberry.

  48. *This*, my friend, is what Church is really about. Relationships. Sharing and feeling God’s love with and through His people. Letting that love inspire us to love others who don’t know this radical Love just yet. And food…food is always close at hand. (Even in the Bible…I’m telling you. Communal mealtimes are super biblical.) :)

  49. Okay girls, here is a great resource to fire up your Sunday Dinners. It is a beautiful book complete with recipes & menus and it is guaranteed to inspire you to cook a Sunday dinner! “A Return to Sunday Dinner” by Russell Cronkhite. I bought mine used on Amazon and have bought several copies as housewarming gifts since then. The menus and pictures are inspiring. There is even quoted scripture! Yea! Thanks Sophie for your sweet posts. You are always an inspiration (and a few giggles). Blessings to you and your family.

  50. Growing up, both my parents were really involved in the church service, so we often had waffles or pancakes for Sunday lunch. In the past year or so, the husband and I started having some good friends over to watch football on Sunday afternoon. Most weeks we just throw out snacks at lunchtime (anything from cheese & crackers to shrimp cocktail), and eat ourselves into a stupor in front of the tv. The games are on, but lots of weeks I couldn’t tell you who played, much less who won. We just chat and eat and observe the antics of my children.

  51. I love this…makes me think of Sundays growing up. When my girls were at home I tended to cook a nice Sunday lunch. Now hubs and I tend to go out for breakfast before or after church, depending on which service we go to. I think Sunday lunch is a tradition worth resurrecting.

  52. Although what you described sounds delightful and did conjure up memories of my own childhood (the town I grew up in was so small it only had A (one) place to purchase prepared food–the malt shop. It was closed on Sundays.), I have decided to break with tradition in favor of a new Sunday tradition–a nap. I will say that our church doesn’t meet on Sunday nights, so we do occasionally have friends/family over for dinner. I am probably more enjoyable company after the Sunday afternoon nap.

  53. Before we moved over here, I would try my best to put something yummy in the crock pot before we left for church in the morning. Then at church, we’d ask the Lord who we could invite over that day for lunch. We tried things like meat balls (to make Italian subs), bbq, pot roast, roast chicken, chili, etc. Just things that would be easy, delicious, and feed a lot. It was a fun way to bless others, and since I used my crock pot I wasn’t slaving in the kitchen.

  54. My Dad was a pastor & my husbands a pastor so lunch right after church is usually crazy, we just grab a bite wherever. But dinner, that was a different story. We almost always had fried chicken, mash potatoes, beans & rolls. Funny, I just posted about Sunday meals on my blog too… hmmmm… must be something in the air!

  55. Now you know that you can only go to El Chico so many times in one week, so my husband grew up eating a big Sunday lunch at his grandparents house every week. Once they passed away, the tradition moved to my mother-in-law’s house. When we moved from MDN to Birmingham, I mistakenly thought I was off the hook. I mean, we have infinitely more choices than El Chico. But when my husband told me that Sunday lunch was one of his favorite times of the week, I was guilted into starting the tradition at our house. I don’t hate it. Have a good week!

  56. We’re all way too hungry to wait for lunch to cook after church! So we just let the wonderful people at the restaurant or at Raising Canes cook our Sunday lunch for us! We have had a lot of good times with dinner gatherings among friends, though.

  57. Having Sunday lunch with family is a regular part of our routine….and I LOVE it! Not just because I get a break from cooking the entire meal myself, but It’s just what we grew up doing. My mama decides what’s on the menu, then she, along with my sisters and myself, bring something to go with the main dish. Sometimes we invite extended family – especially if it’s a birthday or holiday. And my mama always has a birthday lunch or supper for her 4 daughters! It doesn’t matter how old we get, it’s the birthday cake, candles, singing, and all :)

    I had moved away for several years, and now my baby sister is in another state. So we’re minus a few and miss them so much :( But I look forward to it every week.

    A long time ago, I decided to make my Sundays truly a day of rest. We go to church, have lunch with family, go home for a nap, and then back to church in the evening ….a GREAT way to start off my week :)

  58. Growing up, we always did a big Sunday lunch (mid-afternoon). We’d usually be at our house, and my mom often made pot roast in the pressure cooker. Sometimes we’d go to my grandparents, and my grandpa would make his Dutch meatball soup. The adults played bridge before and after lunch, and my brother and I whined about how bored we were! But they’re great memories now. These days, my husband and I lead a small group that meets on Sunday afternoons (for folks who live too far away from church to make a midweek small group), so Sunday lunch is usually a rushed affair. But we love when we do get the chance to enjoy a lingering Sunday meal with friends!

  59. Sophie, you’re making me all nostalgic this afternoon. We always had a big meal at my Grandparents every Sunday when I was a kid. Those are some of my very best memories. I think we may be bringing the big Sunday meal back at my house too. My husband will thank you for that!

  60. I love the idea of Sunday lunch, but it’s never really been a reality for me. This post may have inspired me to give it a go!

  61. Our Sundays consist of my family of four and my sister and her 4 kids (her hubby always stays home … maybe likes the peace & quiet? Probably just to watch football) all going to our mom’s house right after church for a big lunch. The adults sit at the dining room table and just across the kitchen the 6 kids sit together. It is loud, crazy, fun. Two Sundays ago one of the grandsons started a rubber band war, and seeing their Pop (my dad) run all over the house with them was just precious. They did it again just yesterday, so I’m thinking it might be a Sunday-after-lunch tradition… I sure hope so! :)

  62. I go to a different church than the rest of my family and so I just go home and eat whatever I can find. I cook a big dinner so that I will have leftovers for the week. I love Sunday lunches with the family but I also love Sunday afternoon naps and don’t think I would skip my nap to visit with folks. I guess I’m selfish when it comes to nap time.

  63. We live near no one and know just as many… so lunch here is just my little family. BUT before we moved here we used to do a lunch thing with friends and I loved it. There was a group of us that would get together every Sunday after church and meet up at someone’s house (we rotated each week) for a yummy meal. I only needed to cook Sunday lunch every 4-6 weeks and I was still able to eat yummy food without paying to go out to eat. The kids all got to play while the adults got to chat… *sigh* it was lovely.

  64. I LOVE this! We never did the family lunch, except on Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but this is definitely something I want to do when I’m married. Especially inviting someone to join us. I think it would be a great ministry to invite first time church visitors, too!

  65. I never figured out how people prepared a big lunch on Sundays…. Maybe it’s because I don’t believe in waking up earlier than I have to in order to get ready to go to church?!?

    But I’m so proud to say that we did, in fact, cook lunch this past Sunday and have our dear friends (closest thing to family nearby) over to enjoy our red beans and rice with us… Nothing fancy, of course (There were 4 children, including my newborn, after all:)), but the fellowship was too sweet. I’m a terrible hostess, but I love the authenticity and intimacy that grows in our relationships when we invite friends over even when the house is not company-ready and the lunch is just red beans and rice.

    I’m sure my family and friends wouldn’t mind if there were a true Southern Sunday Lunch Spread instead… Maybe one day:)

  66. Yumm….sounds delicious. I’m totally available anytime you need help eating those rolls…..and I’m right in Birmingham ;)

  67. I think big ole Sunday lunch is a grand idea!! We typically go out after church in a beat the baptists kinda game!! Sometimes we meet my in-laws and get rushed through the meal…cause the baptists are waiting : ) I am going to try your idea…starting once a month I am going to do a Sunday lunch and invite the family we have here and whoever else comes to mind…thank you for the inspiration!!

  68. Growing up, we were either at my Grandmother Felton’s or our home. Once we were teenagers, we just ate out more, but at least once a month mom cooked a huge spread and all our grandparents would come over and we would ALL sit around the table and eat and laugh.

    Since the first of January I’ve been having a “real” Sunday lunch for our four. (We live away from family now) But for the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt the nudge to be having friends over more often. I say nudge, but I know it’s the Holy Spirit telling me to look beyond our four walls.

    So…I guess I’ll put another leaf in the dining room table and add some chairs then ask God who needs an invite to lunch this week.

    Thanks Sophie for this post!

  69. Sunday lunch is a given at my house. But only since I married my preacher boy almost 10 years ago. It isn’t always fancy but having an oven with a delay and a crock pot has made it much simpler to get it on the table pretty quickly after we get home from church. Many times we will have my precious in-laws over. Other than church it is often my sweet MIL’s only trip out since she has MS and is wheelchair bound. Big Sunday lunches pave the way to great Sunday afternoon naps!

  70. I loved this post. I fixed a big ole roast for lunch yesterday, too. We also invited some friends over to help us eat it. :)

  71. No, but put me down for the second Sunday in February; there will be four of us :)

  72. Wow. Thassa lotta comments. Clearly you struck a nerve!

    We do SO enjoy the Sunday lunch. We do it so often that we’ve stopped worrying so much about the food (although your feast sounds DIVINE!). We’ve been known to mix up a big batch of jambalaya on Saturday evening and then serve leftovers for Sunday lunch the next day. In the summer, we most often just get a bunch of hot dogs, buns, chips, and cookies and go REALLY casual.

    You are so right, the leisurely pace of a Sunday meal is divine. Like, literally – Divine.

  73. Okay, for real, would you please host a little discussion about how on earth to cook a meal while you’re at church? Because I would *love* to do this, but there’s only a certain number of dishes you can leaving simmering/roasting/baking/cooking for three hours on Sunday morning.

    But it’s funny you brought this up, because just this Sunday I told Hubs I thought we should start doing a giant spaghetti dinner after church every Sunday and just randomly round up a couple of families at church to eat with us.

  74. Growing up, my family never had a big Sunday lunch. We lived several hours away from all our extended family and my mom opted to spend the afternoon snoozing on the sofa.

    After the hubby and I moved to Tennessee, I was first introduced to the concept of a big Sunday meal. Some dear friends were kind enough to include us in their family’s weekly feast. When I read your words, “OH SWEET MERCY THE ROLLS,” I wanted to shout out a huge AMEN! They were, hands down, the best part of the meal. By some miracle, our friend’s grandmother was kind enough to give me her Sunday Hot Roll recipe.

    Our church is a bit of a drive from our house, so many Sundays, we take the opportunity to enjoy a special family meal out. We do a big meal either Saturday or Sunday night instead.

  75. I was born and raised a Northern girl, but my mom’s got some Southern roots. As a kid, I remember her getting up super early on Sundays to get our meal started. She often made a roast with carrots, potatoes and rolls. And iced tea that was so sweet – oh my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Sometimes she’d simmer homemade spaghetti sauce all day long and then make homemade garlic bread and croutons for our salad, and of course that sweet iced tea. I have a 3 year old, so usually we are racing home from church to get her some lunch and down for her nap. So, it’s much easier for us to have a big Sunday dinner in the early evening.

  76. Growing up, we used to have Sunday Dinner right after church, too. And it was usually a roast with potatoes and carrots! Someone, somewhere must’ve suggested that this was the thing to do. :) I have tried to emulate it for my family, but alot of times, I’m not on my game and it doesn’t happen. It really is more blessed when shared. Several times in our almost 17 years of marriage, we’ve had people over after church for a big meal and those are some of the best times. You’re right, it’s such a relaxed time. I’m going to check that book out that was mentioned above, too. Hopefully, it’ll kick me into gear for the next few weeks!

  77. I, too, have fond memories of Sunday dinners in Mississippi. They were always at Mamaw’s house, and the food was always delicious. More than the food, though, I remember the extended family gathered together and the laughter…lots of it. Without family nearby now, we often eat out after church. I would love for my boys to experience the community that gave me such a sense of belonging as a child. We have made our own traditions, of course, but the long afternoons at the grandparents’ house are hard to beat.

  78. Well, I’m a Northern Girl and Sunday “dinner” is not just a Southern thing. We had Sunday get-togethers every Sunday with our cousins, taking turns with the houses. It’s a grand northern tradition too. Ours was a German family, so lots of good old meat and potato German meals.

  79. Sister – LOVE this post, but one thing that is throwing me off-kilter, is that we never, EVAH, called it Sunday “lunch.” It was always Sunday “dinner,” ’cause that’s what we called the mid-day meal back in the day. Mamaw and Papaw would definitely back me up on this. :)