Weeknight family dinner at Chez Maniger - we did it!

Hooray for us! We did it. We finally had a weeknight family dinner with the four of us. I've written in the past about how we struggle to eat with the kids during the week. Our normal routine is they eat at 6pm and Ryan and I eat dinner at 9pm after the kids are in bed. I cook for Charlie and Izzy, Ryan cooks for me. Two different meals, every night. It sounds crazy just writing that down. It isn't something we established intentionally, it just evolved over time and with the second child, etc. But we're making a conscious effort to make one meal for everyone and eat together. I know it won't be a quick change so I'm aiming low - a couple nights a week would be great. A few things that made our weeknight family dinner work:

1) I planned and shopped for our dinner over the weekend so everything was on hand and ready to go for the weeknight meal.

2) I prepped for dinner by chopping, measuring and organizing ahead of time. I did this in the morning just before I left for work, after the kids went out the door with Ryan.

3) Ryan gave the kids a bath while I cooked and put dinner on the table (thanks for that suggestion Susan M). I needed only 20 minutes to get everything done with the prep work already out of the way.

4) I made sure the recipe was kid-Charlie-friendly. The Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls called for a little cayenne pepper which I left out. Charlie won't touch anything that has even a spot of black pepper in it. Cayenne? Forget about it. With onions and garlic and fresh herbs, the recipe still had plenty of flavor. Plus, adding some pico de gallo with a bit of a kick (for the adults) more than made up for the missing cayenne.

Adult and kid-sized Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls.

Charlie enjoyed serving himself and making his own burrito bowl. He has learned to serve himself at school and he really liked showing us how he could do this on his own. He added the toppings he liked, skipped those he was unsure of. Having a choice was key! He told me several times how much he liked the dinner I made. He can be a very sweet kid, no doubt.

Izzy had two helpings - she likes just about everything.

The kids got to bed a little later than usual, closer to 8:15, and they basically ate and then went to bed. It's not ideal, but I honestly don't know any other way. With dinner finished and the kitchen clean by the time the kids went to bed, Ryan and I had more time to relax in the evening than we knew what to do with. I'm calling our first weeknight family dinner at the Maniger household a big success!

If you are interested in the burrito bowl recipe, you can find it here. I got great advice from several Speed  Bump readers to help improve our weeknight dinner routine - thanks so much!

P.S. The leftovers from this recipe wrapped in a tortilla made great burritos for lunch the next day. Win, win!


  1. Success indeed! Sometimes the minor victories are the sweetest :O) I second your thoughts on little one's having options on their meal - it seems to make them (and consequently Mom) very happy...and agreeable eaters, a definite win-win! Wouldn't it be great if C and H were as enthusiastic eaters as Miss Iz?

    The crockpot has been a life (and time) saver on family meals - if/when I plan ahead. Also, Trader Joe's pizza crust is now a staple in our home - a great quick meal when paired with a salad. Haley LOVES to put the cheese and veggies on.

    1. Thanks K! I need to get on board with the crockpot. We have homemade pizza once a week so will have to try the Trader Joe's crust. Love your suggestions - it takes a village to feed toddlers!

  2. I desperately need to organize our recipes and get on track with meal planning. The weeks we draft our shopping list off our meals, things go SO much smoother. If only I could convince H to eat something other than 'hot gogs'. Thankfully there are organic versions that don't skeeve me out.

  3. Success! Can't believe I am in bed when you and Ryan typically eat dinner. Lol the family dinner looked good. I have no doubt Charlie will be cooking all the family meals soon!

    1. Just wait, Julie, you'll see! Cooking and cleaning, that's the plan!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Just say Yes!

Screen Inspiration, the backstory

Worlds collide