While it was still summer, meals were more relaxed and nonchalant. With warm weather and plenty to do, dinner was as simple as grilling and chilling, making a few sandwiches and heading to the park, or going into town and grabbing something easy from a food truck. Now that the kids are back in school, everyone has their own plans and obligations, and it’s harder to get the whole family together for dinner. By laying down the law and making dinner time a designated family time, you can stay up to date on everyone’s lives, while enjoying a meal together. The only thing left to plan is the food itself.

Here at Elsmere, we hear your plight, and we want to help. Whether you’re a family of 2, or a crowd of 6, these school week dinner inspirations will bring everyone to the table.

Taco Bar
Everyone loves tacos, it’s a fact; and even the most health-conscious can agree that a taco salad is both delicious and nutritious. For this family meal, turn the kitchen island or counter into a buffet, with taco shells, plenty of greens, chopped veggies, and a huge variety of toppings like salsa, guacamole, your favorite protein, hot sauce, and anything else your family requests. Let everyone take their own plate (or bowl if they prefer to make a taco salad), and assemble their own meal for a family fiesta that leaves everyone full and happy.

Breakfast for Dinner
Breakfast food is great, and since the morning rush of the school week leaves little time for leisurely food preparation and dining, it makes perfect sense to enjoy breakfast favorites in the evening! Take requests from the family in the morning - some will want omelettes while others will want waffles, but the ingredients for these breakfast favorites won’t cost much, and nothing takes too long to prepare. Win-win!

Recipe Roulette
Break out an old cookbook or try one of the random recipe generators online, and surprise your family (and yourself) with a meal idea that nobody will expect. To prepare for this fun dinner idea, gather the family and explain that everyone will help prepare whatever meal is chosen. Open to a random page of the cookbook, or if you want to work with what’s already in your fridge, try Supercook, a website that shows you recipes that include the ingredients you already have. No matter what, this meal will be a fun experiment.

Sandwich Artist Academy
Much like your taco bar, this dinner plan will let everyone assemble their own meal, but it can be done right at the table. Bring out a basket of bread and rolls, spreads and condiments, and plates of whatever sandwich toppings your family enjoys. Let everyone create their own works of edible art while you all share stories about your days. For an added challenge, have a competition to create the most colorful or best looking sandwich.

Take Out & Game Night
No matter what type of dinner you prepare, the cooking and cleanup take time! If you want to skip those steps and focus instead on spending quality time with the family, order takeout! When you order your weeknight meal to go from Elsmere, you can rest assured that everyone will find something they love, and it will be packed and ready to eat when you pick it up. When you can skip doing dishes, you can focus on family, and enjoy playing a game or watching a movie together while you eat.

Dinner with the family is a time to eat, share stories, and enjoy each other’s company. By trying these unique and fun mealtime ideas, you’ll keep the family guessing, while making memories that last long after the dishes are washed. For more dinner ideas, just pick up the phone and call Elsmere - we’ll be happy to tell you about our seasonal menu options and even help recommend our favorite menu items for even the pickiest eaters in your family.  

Photo Credit: Douglas Merriam Food Photography