And late nights.
Which really gets in the way of family dinners. Let alone healthy ones.
Last week, it was nearly 10 pm when they got home after a game that ran late.
Which is crazy for middle schoolers on a school night.
Let alone for Mystic who leaves at 6 am to start his day.
The motivation to go through a drive-thru and get take-out on those kind of nights is strong.
With Nick and Madeline both in soccer, and both having weeknight practices, it’s tough.
Usually on those nights I plan for leftovers.
Or breakfast for dinner.
Concentrating on something I can get on the table within 30 minutes of walking through the door.
And not feeling guilty about it.
Some days are better than others. For sure.
Last Thursday night was Nick’s soccer practice.
It was cold.
Right up until five minutes before we left, I was checking the web site.
Hoping to see the “fields are closed” designation.
No such luck.
We could have just skipped it. But I decided against it.
Although it would have been easier, it sends the wrong message.
To Nick. And the team.
Madeline and I walked down to the wet, squishy field with him. After about 15 minutes, we high-tailed it for the car.
She cleaned out the back seat. Pretended to drive.
Messed up Changed all my radio stations. Found and ate snacks. Pretended to sleep. Wrote on the wet windows.
An hour later, Nick came back to the car.
Soaked through to his cleats.
But beaming from ear to ear.
Because, of course, having permission to play in the rain. The mud. The mess and muck. Was pretty awesome.
By the time we got home, it was close to 8.
I so wanted to just get take-out.
Grab a slice.
But I didn’t.
As Nick wrung out his clothes. And peeled off his soccer socks and shin guards. I whisked together a few ingredients for a dressing.
Using items I already had on hand.
And likely you do too.
As he took a quick shower and changed into warm (read: dry) clothes. I plated the greens.
Within 20 minutes, dinner hit the table. I saved money. Skipped the guilt.
Here’s what I know. When it comes to late night sports practices and games, there are three important factors.
1. You need to have a well-stocked kitchen of basics that you can pull together. I don’t mean your cupboards have to be full. But have some pantry staples. Pasta and sauce. Eggs and bread. Ingredients on hand for a couple of go-to family-friendly dinners.
2. Formulate your game plan. You need to hit the ground running. So on your way back home, block out the kids’ chatter in the back seat and figure out what you’re going to do. It’s like getting dressed in the morning. If you don’t have a plan before your feet hit the floor, it can take forever to decide what to wear. Same goes for dinner. You need a plan before you walk into your kitchen.
3. Resist the urge. And this is perhaps the hardest part. At the end of a long work day. With homework and practice after that. I just don’t want to have to think anymore. Let alone cook dinner. I’m spent. The kids are done. And any more time than necessary puts them that much further from bedtime. Grabbing a slice of pizza means dinner is started and finished within 15 minutes. Easy peasy. And sometimes we do that. No lie. But the harder decision is to power past all that. And make dinner anyway. Save money anyway. Go home and get started anyway.
So Thursday night’s recipe. A new salad I spied on Joy the Baker’s web site.
The thing about salads? You can totally make a meal out of it, but more important is that you can mix and match the toppings based on your picky family member’s palates. The kids won’t eat salmon, but Nick loves prosciutto, so he got that as one of his toppings instead. And avocados? He can’t get enough of them. Madeline doesn’t like either. So she got a few pieces of diced chicken. Me? Avocado. Prosciutto. And a little salmon to boot.
Loved the dressing.
Loved the salad.
And, of course, even though we all crawled into bed mere minutes after the dishes went into the sink, loved that we skipped take-out.
What are your go-to, sports night family-friendly meals?
**I made the recipe as is, but with two minor changes. I used a whole wheat baguette to make the buttered croutons, and instead of smoked salmon, I used a salmon fillet that I had on hand (freezer stash from Target).Pin ItJoy the Baker, salad, smoked salmon, weeknight meal