I wear many hats when it comes to food: I’m a dietitian (a.k.a. food therapist), author, podcast host, wife, mom, and home cook. If I tallied up the total hours in my week that involved food in some way, I could only get more hours by dreaming about food (which happens from time to time!)
The Ideal Weeknight Meal
Often our family meals are planned out with thought and care to stick to our family budget and minimize food waste at home. My 3-year-old helps me decide what goes on the menu. She even helps me write shopping lists and updates the kitchen chalk board where we post the weeknight meal plan along with various cooking project “inspirations.”
But what about the Unofficial Meal? You know, the one you eat while you’re making the official meal because everyone is hangry, or the one you do instead of dinner because you don’t want to heat up the house or spend an extra 30 minutes on clean up. That’s my reality these days. If Norman Rockwell painted our family, people would be standing up, socializing, cleaning up a spill, and someone would be crying.
It’s Kinda Like This…
Unofficial Meals are Memorable Meals
When I think of the all the ‘Unofficial Meals’ had in my kitchen, they’re some of the most memorable and happiest moments in life. I think of my girls’ tiny hands learning how to scoop up dip or standing across from my husband in our kitchen, sharing honest conversations or chatting about the news of the day. These meals don’t come with recipes to follow and if I had to recreate them, they’d be different every time. These unofficial meals are created in the moment from love and connection.
Catch Up Time
Hummus is an ideal anytime snack. It’s the go-to staple in my fridge I reach for almost every time my kids bring home an unexpected friend after school, and they’re looking for something to munch on. Many people don’t like veggies plain, but they will eat them when they have great flavor. What an effortless way to get people to eat more vegetables – and actually enjoy them! I have loads of ideas to share in this post.
With a little creativity you can easily be the host with the most. Serve up a creative spin on a 7-layer dip using hummus (I love the Chipotle Hummus), combined with chopped peppers, tomatoes, avocado, and shredded cheese. Grab inspiration from the ingredients you have on hand, working in different colors and textures to each layer. Serve with veggie sticks, pita chips, or your favorite snack crackers.
And if your hostess platter does not need to look pretty, just keep a weekly stash of chopped and ready to go veggies in a sealable container next to a fresh pack of hummus and guacamole in the refrigerator. This way, when you pull out the tortilla chips, you can reach for the veggies and nutritious dips too.
My husband spends a decent amount of time on the road, so when he comes home there’s nothing more I want to do than disconnect from whatever I’m doing and reconnect with him. It’s a time when I can let my hair down and laugh together about the horror stories from a week of solo-parenting.
I spend the spare few minutes each day cleaning up messes around the house, or paying a quick bill. When it comes to my cooking style I love embracing the “you can’t mess it up” mentality. Just start with something fresh and tasty. Then keep adding more good-for-you ingredients.
Sabra has wonderful flavors to choose from or you can buy the Classic Hummus and use it in creative ways to add your own twist. When I’m prepping for dinner I often put out a bowl of hummus with various family favorite “stir ins” for customized dips.
- Try adding caramelized onions, chopped olives, or marinated mushrooms for additional savoriness.
- Combining hummus with chopped figs, dates or other dried fruit makes for a sweet and savory dip.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different oils, seeds and nuts like walnut oil, chili oil and pumpkin seeds for a kick of flavor.
- Mash it up by combining hummus with mashed avocado for an easy twist on traditional guacamole.
When the work week is done and you just finished that big project, it’s time to unwind. You deserve to take a night off of laborious cooking and dishes. In hardly no time at all you can transform your leftover roasted veggies into a robust and herbalicious flatbread pizza! This Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Hummus is an effortless way to reduce food waste and ramp up your veggie intake, plus no one has to do dishes!
Heat oven to 350F. Using whatever veggies you have on hand (leftovers, raw, or freshly roasted – anything goes), dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Next, spread a generous amount of Basil Pesto Hummus (Rosemary and Sea Salt Hummus or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus are delicious too!) on the flatbread and top with diced veggies(~1/2 cup veggies per flat bread). Bake your flatbread in the oven for 10 minutes. Finish it off with a pinch of fresh or dried herbs. Pair with a glass of wine, time to unwind.
What’s Your #UnofficialMeal Story?
I don’t mind #unofficialmeal times. In fact, I quite enjoy the respite from my “ideal world” of family meals that more casual meals provide.
Reflect on those times of getting the most out of the moment and each other.What are some of your most treasured “unofficial meals”? Share your story by leaving a comment below or on social media, using the hashtag #unofficialmeal
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Disclosure: I was compensated by Sabra for my time to write this post. Recommendations and opinion are my own.