Listeners LOVE our Week Of Real-Life Dinners series, and this month eight moms from around the country decided to play along! Read on to find out what they actually served and ate the week of March 8, 2021.
(And if you haven’t already, listen to Episode 305 of the podcast to hear what Meagan and Sarah ate that week!)
For context, I work full time as a lawyer (so does my husband), and am working from home about 85% of the time. I feel like working from home has given me more time to put together cohesive meals (even if I feel like I have less time on the whole). I do a lot of chopping during conference calls and cooking earlier in the day rather than after my kids get home from preschool. We have a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old. I try to make one dinner for all of us, but definitely adapt things for the kids. I’ve never committed to meal planning, but usually have a handful of meals in mind when I grocery shop.
Monday: Chicken, zucchini, mushroom and chickpeas with Trader Joe’s jarred Masala simmer sauce. Rice and Naan (TJ’s frozen). For the kids – the chicken and chickpeas only (before sauce was added), with rice and naan, raspberries on the side. I sliced up everything during the day and even cooked the chicken and rice in advance while the kids were in school. When they got home, I sautéed the veggies, threw in the chicken and sauce and heated the naan up in the oven.
Tuesday: Slow cooker chicken and stuffing with green beans (fresh steam in bag). This was my first time making this, I had pinned it as a super easy pantry type meal. It was fine, my husband and I liked it, the kids ate the chicken alone (pulled out before mixed in with the stuffing), plus green beans and strawberries.
Wednesday: Kids had “snacky dinner”: deli turkey, mozzarella cheese, crackers, grapes, avocado slices. Parents had leftovers of Monday/Tuesday meals.
Thursday: Kids had quick pasta and chickpeas, plus cucumbers and clementines. This is an absolute favorite meal of the kids – I find it takes a while to cool down, so I made it around 4:30pm before I picked them up, and by the time they were ready to eat it at 5:30ish it was cooled enough. Parents had date night/take out burgers.
Friday: Frozen pizza with frozen peas/grapes (kids) and bagged salad (parents)
Saturday: Chicken fajitas (I used the Frontera Grill fajita simmer sauce, which I added to sautéed peppers and onions plus chicken I had cooked earlier in the slow cooker and shredded). Kids ate plain cheese quesadillas with chicken on the side, plus guacamole.
Sunday: Grilled steak, mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa salad with roasted peppers and feta. Kids also had applesauce. The only cooking my husband helps with is weekend grilling when the weather cooperates – it was a beautiful day, so we pulled steaks out of the freezer and I roasted sweet potatoes and peppers mid-day.
This represents a pretty typical week in our house. I am the mother of two girls, ages 11 and 14. My husband and I also care for our elderly parents, who do not live with us but live close by, which definitely impacts our daily life and planning. In general, I plan for three nights/days of cooking a week and I usually make enough food for leftovers when I cook. My husband and I both work from home (I work part time) and my girls are in school remotely. I tend to plan lot of meals that can be prepared in the morning, when I have energy and I am not working, that can quickly be finished in the evening. When we are out and about in the world for activities this approach makes it easier to put food on the table between shuttling the kids around, taking our parents to appointments or helping them out.
Monday: On Sunday my teenager made a double batch of chicken pesto meatballs. Tonight we had leftover meatballs, freshly cooked pasta and steamed broccoli. I went to our local farm stand today and stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies. I chopped and washed the broccoli, to cook another night, and roasted a bunch of sweet potatoes and zucchini in the afternoon.
Tuesday: I cooked a double batch of chicken in the crockpot. I put in 2 packages of chicken breast tenders, 1/4 cup olive oil and broth and cook in the crockpot until cooked/shredded. My husband and I had chicken (I ate mine cold with some Caesar dressing, my husband mixed in some BBQ sauce. We also had leftover pasta and zucchini. Teen had two remaining meatballs, pasta and raw carrots. The 11 year old had meatballs, zucchini and sweet potatoes. The kids will often make quesadillas when they eat the chicken. The girls were chatting with friends over Zoom – so everyone ate independently. I visited with my mom (we sat outside) in the afternoon so I was glad to not have to cook.
Wednesday: My husband and I ate the same meal as yesterday. Although, I steamed broccoli and my husband and I ate that. The 11 year old had the same meal as yesterday as well. The teen ate a leftover meatball, toast (she didn’t want to make more pasta and raw carrots.
Thursday: I made a box of pasta and a package of frozen broccoli. Kids ate broccoli and pasta, I ate chicken, broccoli, pasta. I have no idea what my husband ate! The packages of chicken were bigger than expected and lasted longer than usual which was good!
Friday: We did burgers and fries take out. This was a big treat! On Fridays we usually make pizzas at home.
Saturday: I grilled pork chops outside, the 11 year old made instant mashed potatoes, I cooked one more head of fresh broccoli and supplemented with frozen broccoli.
Sunday: We had a repeat of yesterday.
Monday: I know you only wanted through Sunday – I wanted to add in this day as it is reflective of where I am right now and likely where other people are. I have to take my mom to a medical appointment in the am. I will defrost two packages of ground turkey and let everyone know they can make tacos or meat sauce and leave it up to them. When I get home for the day there may be tacos, meat sauce or it might be a YOYO (you’re on your own) dinner.
My favorite hack for when the kids activities get really busy – usually the Spring, I just plan to grill 8 turkey burger patties on Thursday and that is dinner Thursday and Friday. Knowing that is coming at the end of a busy week really helps.
Monday: chicken wings (husband cooked them on the smoker), roasted cauliflower, orange slices, baguette
Tuesday: Trader Joe’s orange chicken, green beans and rice (made a double batch so we have leftovers for lunch next day!)
Wednesday: takeout from The Habit (small local franchise, which has burgers, fries, shakes, and a few salads. And for the record is waaaaaay better than in n out. Anyone who disagrees can fight me! ??)
Thursday: pot roast with onions, carrots, green beans, and peas. “Baked” potatoes in the microwave. I was going to make homemade crusty bread but I forgot to start it in time, so I toasted a slice of sourdough for everyone. ? Plus sliced strawberries. (I was planning this meal would provide a lot of leftovers, but the meat was a different cut than I expected and it was tough and horrible, so we threw away the leftovers—something I never do! Overall this meal was a fail.)
Friday: was supposed to be leftover pot roast with a side of buttered spaghetti, but had to change plans. So I defrosted some leftover soup for me and hubby and made buttered pasta for kids, and a Caesar salad for me, hubby, and one kid—fruit for the others.
Saturday: forgot to thaw out meat, so I made pizza with frozen crust from Trader Joe’s, and a salad, and baby carrots for kids.
Sunday: hamburgers! Spinach salad with goat cheese, strawberries, and tomatoes. Orange slices for kids.
We are a family of four: Mom, Dad, sister turns 6 in April, brother turned 2 in January
Monday: spaghetti and meatballs in red sauce, steamed cauliflower with garlic powder and brewers yeast, blueberries and pineapple rings
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! Ground turkey with homemade taco seasoning, refried beans, salsa, guacamole, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, olives, cheese in a tortilla for the kids and as nachos for the parents. Added raspberries for the kids.
Wednesday: Chicken thighs (in crock pot with broth 4 hours on high) with pad Thai sauce, rice, roasted butternut squash
Thursday: leftover tacos/taco salad
Friday: corn dogs and Caesar salad
Saturday: fish tacos: Baked rock fish, coleslaw, mango on a tortilla
Sunday: crock pot turkey chili with shredded cheese and tortilla chips
Kelsey works part-time here on our team at The Mom Hour, and this year she also stepped into a teaching position at her kids’ elementary school. She and her husband have twin kindergarteners and a second grader and live in West Virginia.
Monday: Beer Battered fish from our local meat market- it is our kids FAVORITE. Served as fish and chips with LITERAL chips (like the Lays kind) because teacher on a Monday
Tuesday: Pork chops, baked potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: shredded chicken tacos (crock pot), rice and beans
Thursday: spaghetti, garlic bread and a salad
Friday: We went to town after school to get groceries, so we stopped through chic fil a for dinner
Saturday: Steaks, baked potatoes, salad
Sunday: Salmon, white rice, brussel sprouts- all kids recently have become fish lovers, they all eat the rice. Audrey LOVES brussel sprouts and the boys will eat 1 brussel sprout each lol
Monday: sheet pan roasted chicken sausage and veggies; this is my go to dinner- everyone eats it!!
Tuesday: picked up Flame Broiler, my daughter ate a quesadilla
Wednesday: crock pot turkey chili + cornbread
Thursday: YOYO (aka what the What Fresh Hell podcast ladies call “you’re on your own dinner”). Everyone ate leftovers (chili or pasta from Sunday night)
Friday: pizza and movie night (COVID tradition)
Saturday: I got together with a couple of mom friends for the first time in 13 months for a backyard gathering to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the 2 week lock down. ? I ate there and my family was on their own.
Sunday: My 5 year old daughter and I made grilled cheese and tomato soup from the America’s Test Kitchen kids cookbook
Monday: sheet pan chicken fajitas with lime crema
Tuesday: instant pot harissa chicken with rice, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese
Wednesday: sheet pan shawarma with cauliflower and naan (the kids don’t like shawarma, so they mostly eat naan with peanut butter on it)
Thursday: we had planned arroz con pollo but had a super long day and I wasn’t up to cooking; ended up picking up Chipotle instead
Friday: frozen pizza and salad
Saturday: mac and cheese bar with chicken (used the chicken leg quarters we had pulled out for arroz con pollo that we needed to use up), onions, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli
Sunday: had planned to pull chili out of the freezer and make cornbread. But I had a migraine and was hiding in a dark room. My husband ordered pizza. I ate it in a dark room and went to bed super early.
Definitely wasn’t the plan to order out twice AND have frozen pizza, but you can’t win them all!
For reference, I have a 3 year old, Milo, and 14 month old, Jude. I’m vegetarian and the rest of the family is not.
Monday: Big salads with tofu, walnuts, chickpeas and veggies for us. The kids had Annie’s mac n cheese with chopped up grilled vegetables and chicken meatballs
Tuesday: Beef hot dogs (field roast veggie dog for me) with leftover grilled vegetables and a cubed russett potato roasted at 400 degrees. (My 3 year old thinks those are French fries)
Wednesday: Weelicious egg pesto sandwiches and roasted carrot coins
Thursday: Greek salads for us. Black bean and zucchini quesadillas for the kids with grapes
Friday: Frozen pizzas (Trader Joe’s bambinos for the kids) with chopped up steamed broccoli on top. We used cauliflower pizza crusts from Whole Foods and added a bunch of veggies on top
Saturday: We got carry out Thai food and the kids had a cheesy/rice quinoa mixture with peas, broccoli and marinara sauce mixed in
Sunday: Avocado grilled cheeses with roasted sweet potato cubes