When my girls were little, we created a weeknight meal calendar. They have loved sticking to that routine all this time, though it has evolved over the years. Drawing inspo from the Taco Tuesday concept, we delegated themed nights that we all look forward to week after week. In creating this framework, it’s gotten my girls more involved with the process and has invited me to play with my culinary creativity. The girls have their usual favs, but they also love to grab my cookbooks and mark pages that look appetizing. From there, I make a plan, either to follow the recipes or create my own. The girls love to help with prep if they’re home and available. It’s honestly one of my favorites ways to connect with them.
Our routine is ever-evolving, but we are loving our current one. My hope is that you’ll want to duplicate or use ours simply as inspo to recreate your own to make family meals more fun!
Generally, these meals are also meatless, but we will sometimes include meat if the girls request a specific recipe or if I’m short on other ingredients. Often, we will have something like lentil penne with roasted veg. I’ll toss the pasta with vegan pesto and top with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil. Sometimes we have grilled or baked fish with herbs + lemon. I'll pair it with whole grain couscous or roasted potatoes and a big mediterranean salad. We're obsessed with this greek dressing.
You will certainly see a lot of tacos at our house on Tuesdays, but we also shake things up. I love making a serve-yourself fajita bowl bar using quinoa or brown rice for the base. I will cook up chicken, beef or keep it veg with taco-seasoned black beans. I often throw together shrimp quesadillas on almond flour tortillas or make a big pan of nachos with cassava tortilla chips and cashew queso. Other times, we head out to our fav Mexican spot for grilled fish tacos or chicken fajitas.
This is our day of the week to literally, do whatever. We sometimes make breakfast for dinner (my girls’ most requested meal) or chicken burgers. Sometimes we get dinner to-go or order delivery from our fav local places. Personally, I love making deconstructed burger bowls where I use roasted sweet potato as the base, grill chicken, beef or veggie burgers and create a topping bar with all the things. Tessemae’s and Primal Kitchen make the best, clean condiments. I love my bowl with romaine, organic dill pickles, ketchup and avo mayo.
This is our Asian-inspired night. We love making veggie spring rolls with mango, avo and a peanut butter sauce for dipping. A staple for us is also a big pot of red curry chicken over cauli rice. Sometimes I make stir fry with whatever veg I have on hand...or if I’m not in the mood to cook (yes this happens and is totally ok!), we get tuna and salmon poke bowls from a local place.
FRIDAY FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT
While the menu changes from time to time, this is almost always our pizza night. Sometimes we indulge and order in or bake off cauli crusted frozen pizzas…but my personal favorite is to make our own. I love a sprouted crust from Trader Joe’s and sometimes we even use Ezekiel tortillas. This is our all-time fav sauce. My girls and I typically do Hawaiian-style, tomato basil or prosciutto and arugula.
This is our day to explore new places or enjoy our Chicago favs. Every time we check a new place off of our bucket, I think we add 3 new ones! One of the very best things about Chicago is the foodie culture and as a family, we connect by eating our way through the city.
I’m pretty devoted to my routine and self-care on Sunday mornings because more often than not we have visitors in the afternoon/evening. Growing up in a big family, this is all I know. Sundays are for worship, rest, regrouping for the week ahead and hang time with family. For this reason, I usually spend some time in the kitchen in the afternoon so that people can serve themselves once they arrive. This allows me to be present and engaged while people are around. Most often, I put together a charcuterie board (one of my favorite creative activities), a big pot of spaghetti sauce and a green salad. This is especially fun when I’ve fully stocked up at our local farmers’ market on Sunday (Spring, where are you?!!).
I hope this inspires you to elevate your weeknight meals.
Make it fun.