Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Decline of the Sunday Lunch

I read an article recently in the newspaper bemoaning the decline of the traditional Sunday lunch.  According to the article, many people “are turning to fast food in a bid to save time and money, shirking home-made meals”.  While I felt that claim to be somewhat inflammatory, it did get me thinking. 

I class myself as a competent cook, I enjoy cooking and am never happier than when I am pottering in the kitchen.  Yet the traditional Sunday roast and veg lunch makes an infrequent appearance on the table at our house.  When did that happen and why?

When I was a young bride, back in the mid 80’s, trad Sunday roast lunch was practically the law!  My then husband and I wouldn’t have contemplated otherwise.  So Sunday mornings found me in the kitchen cooking meat and veg, making gravy and then us rushing to eat lunch and get the dishes washed and put away so that we could spend the afternoon visiting first one set of parents and then another.  As the years went on, with the introduction of rolling shifts Sunday lunches began to make fewer and fewer appearances.   

After my divorce they faded even further into the background!  When I met and courted my (now) husband he was a keen cricketer so the time to make and eat Sunday lunches were a luxury I couldn’t afford during the cricket season as we often left the house at noon to reach various cricket grounds.  But what about the winter months?
When I worked I often spent Saturday or Sunday afternoons batch-cooking casseroles, lasagne/spag bol, chillies, hotpots and variations thereof, stews etc so that I could stash some portions in the freezer for weekday evenings.

Roast lunches did, of course, appear on the table from time to time, but they were a rare treat and generally only appeared on occasions when I catered for the extended family (parents, sister and brother-in-law, aunt and uncle).

I often bang on and on, as is my wont (!), about how the long working hours culture in the UK is destroying family life.  From my own, albeit very limited, experience, when I worked so much of my time was spent either at my desk or commuting to and from, that by the time I got home I was too exhausted to turn around and cook anything meaningful from scratch. 

In those days I had a repertoire of 10 minute quickies mostly dishes based around pasta; or made from leftovers; or something like a shepherd's pie, fish pie, spag bol, chilli etc made earlier and frozen.  Saturday was generally when I attempted to catch up with housework, visit friends and family and grocery shop.  By the time Sunday came around the idea of standing in the kitchen co-ordinating a roast lunch, making gravy and then (crucially!) washing up a mountain of dishes, pots and pans just too much.  How much easier is it to stick meat and veg into a casserole with some stock and push the whole lot into the oven to take care of itself.

Even today, my Sunday standby is generally a casserole or stew of some variation; Irish stew, Lancashire hotpot, Caerphilly hotpot (replace lamb with beef and onion with leek!), steak and mushroom hotpot etc.  We still have the full-on roast lunch, but only every few weeks.  I guess it’s become a habit now!

What about you?  Do you cook a traditional Sunday roast every week or are they an occasional treat?

(There is a link below to the article for anyone who wants to read it in its entirety)


  1. Sunday lunches have been put on the back burner of late here. Normally over summer months we will do a BBQ lunch sometimes with my brother in law and sister in law and their kids. other times with friends. Winter months because our house is so small we tend to just have a big Sunday dinner at night, Just us and the kids.
    I am looking forward to the warmer weather and a little bit more socializing.
    Roasts are not my favourite meals to cook much to my hubbies disgust. he came from a family that had roast meals at least twice a week where as I came from a family that did BBQ's and hot pot meals on weekends due to being committed to so many sports events over weekends both winter and summer. Even though when I do cook roasts I am pretty good at making them mouth watering. the mess, the stodginess and just making them in general tend to put me in a really bad mood. Funny how cooking certain dishes can evoke such emotions
    Love you blog.

  2. Thank you!

    It's the mess that puts me off as well. During the summer months we usually go out during the day, coming home to either BBQ or re-heat a lasagne, or whip up some other pasta based quickie which we usually eat outside.

    My mum, on the other had, ALWAYS does a full-on trad Sunday roast, all year round, no matter how hot it is!