Early one evening about a year and a half ago, my friend Laurie and I ran into each other at extended day pickup. We got to chatting. She began telling me how most weeknights her husband worked late. Her son retreated into his electronics while she made dinner and the lunches for the next day. She felt guilty but stuck. I confided I was having the exact same issue.
We decided that at least one night a week, things could be different. We could give the boys a friend to play with while we gave ourselves some company while we cooked, swapping houses each week. And within the course of a 15-minute conversation, Tuesday Night Dinner was born.
Tuesday nights gave us a much-needed respite while working full-time out of the home, raising boys and keeping the home fires burning while our husbands worked long hours. What’s great about Tuesday nights is that it doesn’t matter what’s served or how clean our house is. Tuesday night is a judgment-free zone. 8 out of 10 times one of us will have dirty dishes in the sink, (Ok – that’s mainly me, but Laurie doesn’t judge and I love and need that) a cluttered counter or an unwiped bathroom. There is no pretense about either us being able to be on top of it all, all the time – just something we could all look forward to each week.
We’ve made some pretty spectacular home cooked meals and some pretty basic ones as well. We’re not afraid to call mercy on a day and order pizza when one of us isn’t up to cooking. Most Tuesdays have dessert, at least for the boys. We serve everything from homemade pies and cookies, to store-bought treats, and even handed out the occasional bag of leftover Halloween candy.
No matter what we gather around the table to eat, there is always laughter, sharing and a feeling of common ground. We eavesdrop on our boys and remark at how their conversations evolve as they grow. We hear them break into spontaneous singing while playing Minecraft and giggle as they make up the silliest of songs. We share our highs and lows of the week just as readily as we share a meal.
The boys still play video games, but at least they are talking to each other while they do. They share secrets about their day, gaming tips, and what they’ve learned *groan* on YouTube. Laughing or arguing, they are relating.
Tuesday nights are about friendship and food and we all cherish our new tradition.
A sampling of Tuesday Night Dinners: Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Roasted Baby Bok Choy and Coconut Pineapple Rice; Taco Tuesday; A Nice Lasagna from Small Victories
Here are a few of our favorite cookbooks for Tuesday Night Dinners:
Weeknight traditions can be as simple as designating Tuesday dinner as “Taco Tuesday” or Pizza Friday. Traditions don’t have to be complicated. They just have to be fun things you repeat on a semi-regular basis.
I would love to hear about your family mealtime traditions. Let me know in the comments!
*We love eating these on a weeknight, but they aren’t really an easy weeknight meal. (Please don’t try them one night after work. Trust me. They are a process and you will end up ordering pizza for a super hangry crowd.) These are best made over a fairly open weekend then stashed in the freezer for when you are ready to heat up & serve.