Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Dinner: One Day at a Time

 Ok. So. The dinner situation might be worse than I thought it would be. We are all sitting down together as a group of 7 maaaaaaybe once a week. I am late 2 nights, and 2 or 3 nights, Ben comes in hot to shove some food in his mouth or grab the Tupperware I have packed him, grab Cooper (who eats on these nights at like 4:45), and take him to between 1-3 sporting events. Dorothy eats a packed dinner at dance one night a week. Jack gets home from fall play rehearsal around 6, and Harry has tennis every night at 7. It’s all a lot.

What works for us right now is to have something large with lots of leftovers on Sundays (when we usually can eat together— at least 5/7 of us typically). Then we coast through Monday on the fumes of that dinner (and maybe some Saturday leftovers, but now that hockey games have started, I feel like these will be even less frequent). I am home Tuesday and Wednesday, so I have been cooking both of those days. Then we get through Thursday-Saturday on leftovers and some Trader Joe’s frozen foods. Sometimes, we also add in some Costco pre-made dinners at the start of the week or on the weekend. Generally, we have avoided much fast food, but we do rely on the occasional pizza.

It’s.. sort of working. Harry, Jack, Ben, Minnie, and I generally eat what I cook, but Dorothy and Cooper are picky picky picky and default to smoothies and scrambled eggs a lot. This is not awesome on rushed nights when I just want dinner to be prepped and done and instead have to cook a whole other thing, but it’s ok.

Favorites so far:

Chicken tacos with slow cooked chicken (I throw chicken breasts and some salsa in the crock pot and shred the meat at the end of the day. Add some pre-prepped veggies for tacos and some guacamole, plus chips, salsa, and microwave rice, and it’s a quick meal that can be served at different times.

Chicken soup

Chicken and sweet potato stew

Chicken tortilla soup

Baked mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken on the side

Any pasta casserole with mild sausage, red sauce, cheese, some kind of green veg mixed in, and some kind of noodle

Pork chops and baked potatoes with some kind of veggie— easy to reheat a plate at a time

Make-your-own loaded baked potato with tons of fixings

Enchiladas (chicken and rice for kids and spicy chicken and veggies for adults)

These mini meat loafs that I used to make when we had tiny kids 

Our selections are starting to feel rut-ish, but it’s hard to find hands-off meals that I can make whenever I have free time and serve in spurts, you know? I’m all ears if you have suggestions.


  1. I am a big friend of soup (lentil, pea, potato, chicken and noodles,...) and Chili con Carne (or just with beans) - usually everyone is happy with that what's a big plus.

  2. Wow, juggling so many schedules is hard. No wonder it's difficult to get everybody at the table at the same time. I am a fan of big pots of stew or one-pot meals that can be easily frozen and/or reheated.

  3. Anonymous7:25 AM

    My emergency/rush meals include anything hand held (grilled cheese, sausage rolls, Cornish pasties) and also baked pancakes, made in a 9x13 pan, pick your own toppings.

  4. We have approximately 5 minutes between daycare arrival and when we need to eat, so we were also kind of in a rut. A few things I've added: Thai curry veggies/tofu over rice (easy to prep and microwave), enchiladas (can do a big pan and microwave), coconut/ginger bean soup - delicious although a bit overplayed at our house.

  5. Anonymous9:03 PM

    If you have some kids that love scrambled eggs, other variations to build on that maybe everyone would like: quiche (so many variations- cheese and ham, sausage and sweet peppers, spinach and cheese, sausage-egg-and-cheese sandwiches on thin bagel or biscuits, scrambled eggs & bacon or sausage in tortillas, sunny side up eggs? Or, other quick or make-ahead meal ideas: thin cut pork chops (a little seasoning on each side and they bake so fast- depending on how thin they are), crock pot roast & carrots, crock pot potatoes & hamburger meat with cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese chicken served over rice, white chili, red chili, shrimp (while expensive, can be cooked up in butter in very few minutes), tuna sandwiches, BLT w/avocado (make bacon ahead of time and reheat).

  6. Wow that seems a lot. All those appointments and games and different schedules. And then on top food and picky eaters. Sounds like you somehow manage though. I hate getting dinner on the. table for two. I can not image doing it for seven people...

  7. I am consistently astonished at how you make your life work, despite all of these challenges. You are feeding 5 kids of widely varying ages, two adults, and also dealing with different preferences, needs, and schedules. And yet, you seem so balanced and joyful most of the time. I am honestly in awe! (I have only myself... and sometimes I struggle to get myself fed something remotely nutritious at a reasonable hour...) Hang in there - you're doing an amazing job.