This past week we had tacos. And it was on a Tuesday. I’d like to pretend Taco Tuesday is a thing in our house, but I’m not that organized. What actually happened was, I was planning to try that Mexican quinoa recipe I’ve seen in my Facebook feed 15 times (from Tip Hero) but when asked “Mommy, what are you making for dinner?” by a whiney 6 year old after gymnastics, I let fear get the best of me (yes, fear of a 6-year-old – go ahead and judge) and gave her the answer I knew would make for an easier evening for all of us: Chicken tacos. I can try the Tip Hero recipe some other time…when my children are giving me the we-can’t-wait-to-try-something-new vibe. You know, the one they give off when the moon is full and Saturn is aligned with Jupiter and it’s the fifth Tuesday of the fourth month of a Leap year. Just kidding. It’s not that hard to get my kids to try new foods. I just have to starve them all day.
But this was not one of those days. So instead of Mexican quinoa, we had tacos. Which they devoured with gusto. Even baby loves tacos. Win-win.
So how do we do tacos in our house? I cut chicken (or steak, or shrimp, but the kids are partial to chicken – big surprise) into strips and sprinkle with taco seasoning if I have it, if not, I use a concoction of other Mexican-sounding spices (is cumin Mexican or Indian? Either way it works for tacos!). If I’m really planning ahead I can do this the night before or morning of – cut the meat and a bell pepper and put it in a container (or a zip lock bag if you hate the earth, which apparently, sometimes I do). That way, at 5:45, I just turn on the stove, swirl some olive oil in the pan, add some minced garlic (from a jar – because who has time to peel and press?) and then dump in the seasoned meat/pepper combo.
While this is cooking, I cut up an avocado and a tomato and mash them up together with lemon juice, more minced garlic, salt and pepper, and cilantro if I have it (but I rarely do). This meal gets even easier if I happen to have leftover guac in the fridge from our Friday night Mexican take-out. If I managed to save some on Friday night, I just add an extra avocado to whatever remains, and voila – my guac is even tastier than usual!
So, back to our tacos (which, if you’re paying attention, you’ll see are really fajitas). After making the guac, I open a can of beans and pour them in a bowl to go in the microwave. I put shredded cheese and lettuce into little bowls to go on the table along with the salsa and tortilla chips. (Depending on our moods, I may ask the girls to help with this part.) I pull the soft tortillas out of their packaging and put them on a plate to go in the microwave after the beans. It’s a quick meal, but it can feel a little stressful because there are a lot of moving parts in those last 5 minutes. And a lot more dishes than it seems like there should be. But that is Roger’s problem as it is his job to do the dishes.
Taco night went predictably well – other than the fact that J seemed incapable of keeping her little bum in her seat (at one point she was actually doing a headstand on the bench). Both the girls had 3 tacos and probably would have had a 4th had I not discouraged it. (Should I not have discouraged it? I questioned this later, but 4 tacos seems like a lot for a little belly!) I usually roll up a mini taco for baby to gnaw on, but that night I put a tortilla with cheese and beans on a plate in the microwave for 20 seconds and then folded it over to make a quesadilla, which was slightly less messy than the usual taco. The kid loves guac too, which I find hysterical. I wouldn’t go near it as a kid. But that’s the whole point of these family dinners isn’t it? To make my kids better, more adventurous, and healthier eaters than I was. Not that my mom fed me Happy Meals all the time – she didn’t. But for whatever reason, I didn’t grow up with the healthiest relationship to food, so I’m doing whatever I can to make sure that’s not the case for my kids. Hmm. Now that I put it that way, I’m thinking discouraging taco #4 definitely wasn’t the way to go.
So, yeah. Other than potentially scarring my daughters for life, Taco Tuesday was a success. If I ever figure out meal planning, this may just become a thing.
Want to commiserate about family dinner and discuss ideas to make it better? Provide your email address below.