Art Seen

11 Portraits That Reveal The Various Ways We Eat Our Weeknight Dinner

“I wanted to capture habits ... shaped by the weeknight time crunch."

We all eat. And yet the ritual of eating dinner with or without family during the week is quite different for people.

Navigating work, family life, and time for self can make the weekdays a chaotic time. So how do people wind down and enjoy their final meal of the day?

Photographer Lois Bielefeld captured this dynamic in her photo series Weeknight Dinner, which is made up of 78 portraits predominantly from the United States but includes 16 from her overseas trip to Luxembourg taken during a 10-week artist residence.

"I've always loved food. I was interested in observing people's habits and nightly rituals," she tells A Plus. "I wanted to capture habits and rituals that are shaped by the weeknight time crunch rather than the weekends when people have more time."


From family dinners in front of the TV to solo meals at the kitchen table, Bielefeld compiled an array of different ways people eat dinner from Monday through Thursday evenings.

Outside of being intrigued by what she found, the photog represented by the Portrait Society Gallery saw the contrast to her own family's way of doing things when she was a child.

"Growing up, my family always ate together for the evening meal and we had to ask to be excused to leave the table," she recalls about her 1970s upbringing, where her mother cooked "a rotating series of Midwestern recipes" six nights a week with the exception of laundry day, when dad took over.

"(That's when) we had frozen fish sticks and tater tots," Bielefeld adds.

She still enjoys a routine weeknight dinner schedule with her wife, Jackie, and her teenage daughter. Although the strict rules of the "clean plate club, meaning we had to eat everything on our plates to be excused" — which her parents instilled — doesn't necessarily apply these days. She's also traded in the Midwestern cuisine for a more health-conscious approach.  

"Jackie is vegan, so pretty much everything we cook is vegan," she says. "We always try to cook things that my 17-year-old will like, who usually is in the living room working on her homework while we are making dinner."

Still, they enjoy their weeknight meal together at the table.

"We chat and reconnect and share about our days," she continues. "It's a moment to slow down and enjoy each other."

Whatever the chosen format to enjoy the day's final meal is, Bielefeld appreciates the differences and captures them in thoughtful, heartfelt ways. Her portraits make you feel like you're the invited guest for the evening.

"I love to see the similarities and differences people exhibit within the same topic," she says.

Check out the different ways people chow down at the end of their weekdays:

1. Monday: Paul and Linda

2. Monday: Nuco

Photo by: Lois Bielefeld

3. Monday: Rina and Giuseppe

Photo by: Lois Bielefeld

4. Tuesday: Seynabou, Rui James, and Marie

5. Tuesday: Alden and Alan

Photo by: Lois Bielefeld

6. Wednesday: Emilio, Rhonda, Benedetto, Sky lrae, and Jacomo

Photo by: Lois Bielefeld

7. Wednesday: Leo and Michael

Photo by: Lois Bielefeld

8. Wednesday: Willie Mae

Photo by: Lois Bielefeld

9. Thursday: Frances and Joan

10. Thursday: Serge

11. Thursday: Brody and Sara


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