Joanna Goddard and family

Over the past eight years, since Toby blew into the scene, we have gone through fits and starts of family dinner. (The boys would usually eat at 5:30 p.m, and Alex and I would eat at 8:30 p.m., after they were in bed.) But now that both boys are in elementary school, we figured we’d give family dinners a real shot! We’re still learning, but here are the meals we made for the last three weeks…

Since we’re not great cooks, and are usually racing home from work, we’ve tried to make a few things easier: We’re focusing on Monday to Thursday for now. Then on Friday, we order delivery and watch a movie! Also, I’m totally into eggs for dinner.

Our kids have gone through picky phases (like when Toby suddenly refused all pasta and cheese, and Anton insisted he was allergic to tomatoes), but generally are open to different foods. I’m sure dinners would be MUCH harder if they had food allergies or sensitivities, and just getting them to eat anything would be a major score. If your little ones struggle in this way, I’d be thrilled to hear your approaches.

Week #1:
Butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and parmesan; broccoli on the side (we got pre-made ravioli at the grocery store)
Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and halloumi
Chicken parm meatballs with with rice and broccoli
Jacket potatoes with tuna, mayo and corn (my English aunts do this combo, and it’s so good)
Order sushi.

Week #2:
Pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella (we got pre-made pesto at the grocery store)
Salmon burgers with lettuce and tomato (we got salmon patties from the grocery seafood counter)
Chicken curry with rice
Kitchen sink burrito bowls
Order pizza.

Week #3:
Scrambled eggs with zucchini and halloumi (Toby and Anton forgot to eat the zucchini)
Avgolemeno soup (we used half of a rotisserie chicken)
Chicken and spinach quesadillas (we used the other half of the rotisserie chicken)
Pasta with butter, parmesan, sausage and broccoli
Order Indian food.

It’s so cozy to sit and eat together, at the same table, most evenings. The other day, Toby started to tell Alex a story about school, only to stop and say: “Oh wait, I’ll save it for family dinner.” (My heart!)

What about you? What recipes do you love? Do you read cookbooks or find ideas online? I’d love to hear…. And as a side note: If you don’t do family dinner, that’s fine, too, of course! We didn’t do it for seven years, and who knows if we’ll keep this up now? Before, we did family bike rides instead, and read books at night, and I felt so close to my children and family, even though we ate together only once or maybe twice a week. All good, either way! xoxo

P.S. Trader Joe’s meal hacks, and how to get your kids to talk at dinner. Plus, two-ingredient pancakes.

(Curry by John Kernick for Real Simple. Meatballs, burrito bowls and avgolemono by Jenny Rosenstrach. Quesadilla by Alex Farnum for Real Simple. Pasta by Three Olives Branch. Jacket potatoes by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo. Salmon burgers by Alex Lau for Bon Appetit. Eggs by Todd Wagner for The New York Times.)