The typical Thai meal bears little resemblance to the large formal dinners found in most Western Thai restaurants. The most obvious difference is that Thais generally eat very small meals, although they do eat a lot of them. They may eat as much as six times a day. It's interesting to see that many nutritionists are now saying that this is a much healthier (eg less fattening) way to eat.
Ready to eat curries and stir-fries available at a Thai food stall.
The typical Thai meal will be just a bowl of noodles or a plate of rice with a couple spoons of one or two curries on top. Some also like bowls of rice porridge, which comes in various styles, for lunch or late night snacks. A large meal, where several dishes are ordered to be shared with several friends or family, is a rare special occasion for Thais. There are very few "rules" for these large meals. There are no "courses" - dishes are bought to the table when they are ready, as there is no fixed order to what is eaten. The dishes may be any combination of curries, stir-fries and dishes called yum in Thai; a word that often gets misleadingly translated as "salad". While it is true that the literal translation of yum is "to toss together", these Thai dishes are a far cry from a light combination of leafy green vegetables.
For "dessert" Thais will often just enjoy some fresh fruit, of which there is an incredible variety available all year long. That is not to say that they don't have sweets, which are highly distinctive in their own way. Cakes and pies are rare, although there are a number of sweets that you could call puddings.