The post yesterday on one Amishman’s daily schedule mentioned meals – and that got me thinking a bit about the different places Amish eat their meals.
So traditionally Amish life revolves around the home. We picture Amish having regular meal times as a fixed facet of daily life, and safe to say that’s still where the bulk of meals are eaten. I also think it’s safe to say the average Amish family eats more meals together around the kitchen table, than does the average non-Amish American family.
But that’s not the only place Amish eat, especially in 2021, when the range of Amish occupations has grown more varied. This has meant changes in lifestyle. Amish are doing a lot more than just traditional farming, as was the majority occupation in the past.
Some occupations mean more meals at home. Besides the farming family, the Amish family with an at-home cabinet shop or store is also having the majority of their three daily meals in the home. But the factory worker, or the market stand family, or the construction business owner are necessarily eating less at home.
So I thought about the different situations and came up with six places Amish eat their meals. I added a rough % estimate of how many meals are eaten in each venue. The percentages of course don’t add up to 100%, because situations can vary.
6 Places Where Amish Eat
1. At home (50-95% of meals) – I have a pretty wide range here to account for different situations in different Amish families and communities. Smaller, more traditional communities which emphasize farming and are less about “working out” for non-Amish employers will see more meals eaten at home (this can also include meals when visiting other Amish homes). It also raises the question: does the average non-Amish American still eat the majority of meals at home nowadays?
2. Church meal (5%) – The church fellowship meal is an important gathering after church service with characteristic foods. It is is just one meal of 21 in a week, and given that Amish church service is every other week, it happens less often than that (I estimated a higher % because people visit neighboring churches on the “off” Sunday).
The menu can vary by community and Amish group, but traditional foods at this meal include meats and cheeses, pickled beets, pie, spreads such as cheese (schmier kase) and church-style peanut butter spread. Some eat a bean soup.
3. Workplace (0% – 40%) – “Lunchpail Amish” who work in factories carry a lunch bucket to work. Or, if you work in say an Amish furniture shop, which is too far from home to return to grab lunch. For the construction crew that is on the road all day, in some cases they might even have two meals away from home.
Photo: Ed C.
4. School (20-25%) – This would apply to the children, meaning 1st through 8th graders, who carry their lunch to school. It’s possible some might run home to eat if they go to school very close to home.
Photo: Ed C.
5. Auctions & related events (3%) – Auctions are all-day affairs so you need to have a good supply of food on hand. There are foods like barbecue chicken and baked goods for sale at these events. If you attend on average a sale every week or two, this would make up a small portion of your meals.
6. Restaurant (0% – 10%) – Amish will go out to eat at a restaurant for sit-down meals. This can be more of a special occasion thing, and not something that all Amish do. However, some Amish will eat at local eateries fairly regularly (check out Mrs. Yoder’s in Mt. Hope, Ohio, or Boyd & Wurthmann in the same settlement, for two examples of PA Dutch style eateries). This could also include meals in fast food restaurants. When you visit Amish communities, notice if the restaurants you pass have a buggy hitch outside.