A Week in Dinners

I like my dinner. In fact, I think about what’s for dinner from the time I get up. We have ours around 6pm, usually the boys and I, with Miss L supervising from her bouncer, and P reheating his when he gets home.

I tend to do my grocery shopping and buy the same bits, or variations on a theme every week. The obvious consequence is that we make the same or very similar dinners every week, I’m not organised enough to make a detailed meal planner, maybe someday so I buy the same staples and turn them into the same rota of dinners, with some slight variation.

While a change is nice, there’s a lot to be said for having a repertoire of healthy dinners that your kids will eat.

Here’s the thing though, I have a “handy” day at least once a week. You know the type thing, fishfingers and waffles, chicken goujons, oven chips, beans. Not very instagrammable.

That got me thinking.

I follow a lot of foodies on twitter, regular people who love food, producers, chefs, restaurant owners and regular diners, but I find that there’s a lack of real life normal everyday family table dinners.

In my experience, the dinners of Ireland (or certainly the dinners of my house) are not styled for Instagram. Now obviously, there are some exceptions, some people do cook eat beautiful, photogenic home cooked food every day, lucky them, but I reckon they’re few and far between.

Certainly at our relatively normal (in the food sense, not in the noise levels or manners sense) kitchen table dinner isn’t always pretty.

I don’t always garnish the plate with fresh herbs the way I’d like, there aren’t many swirls of sauce or dribbles of jus. (Well, there are but these are on the table as opposed to the plate, and I didn’t put them there).

So, partly to start a conversation and partly to say, “you know what, here’s how I feed my family, it’s not all beautiful, organic, unprocessed designer grub”. I’m human. Feed me.

This, for the the middleground feeders of Ireland is the Bumbles of Rice “what we ate last week” list.

It wasn’t planned in advance and I didn’t write the list for the purpose of this post, but rather the post written when I remembered what we ate.

I’m not suggesting that this list provides everything you need from your dinners, for a start it’s pretty pasta heavy, but the boys love it. Here goes nothing.

Ikea Meatballs with their packet (!) of deliciously artificial gravy, rice and frozen peas and broccoli.

Spaghetti Bolognese
How I love my freezer, and my “from scratch” bolognese. I batchcook regularly and on days that I know I will be tight for time it means I only have to make the spaghetti. A teething babygirl needed me last week so I searched the freezer that morning and hit the jackpot

Sausage, Butterbean and Leek Casserole with mashed potatoes
I made this in the morning and reheated in the afternoon while the spuds were cooking. A big favourite here, although Ciarán has taken to removing the leeks these days.


Pasta with pancetta, broccoli, sundried tomatoes and a creamy cheesy sauce.
Pure comfort food, sprinkled with cheese.

Chipper Burgers and Chips
Great way to round off a busy week, no cooking and no washing up.

20131008-231201.jpgAldi Pizza and green salad

The boys adore the fresh pizza from the chiller in Aldi, the ham and pineapple one and the grown ups are very fond of the Specially Selected one in the black box.

The boys’ favourite pizza

Spaghetti Carbonara with Courgettes with a salad on the table- this is real fast food, there’s not much prep to be done and it always produces clean plates here.


I’m fascinated by what real people eat- what’s on your dinner table?

27 thoughts on “A Week in Dinners

  1. I love this – I find it fascinating too, to know what people’s everyday dinners are rather than their special occasion ones. In fact, a few times when I’ve been in a blogging rut I’ve got out of it by just blogging what we had for dinner every night for a week. People seemed to be interested. (Not that I’m a food blogger, by any means, but I do enjoy cooking.) If you’re so inclined, put “Dinner” in the search field of my blog and you’ll get them.

  2. Love this Sinead. You are right, most dinners are not necessarily instagram-able …but always interesting. Our food world is a bit different because of Ron being a chef but it is still normal and sometimes even a bit boring.

    We eat a green salad with every meal (he’s a gardener so there is always salad) and the week of food is a combo of brown basmati, pasta, potatoes and now that winter is here a bit of barley and lentils.

    Meat three nights a week, veggie twice a week (pizza is easy to go all veggie) fish twice a week – very little dining out so there is rarely a night off from dishes … I do use paper plates all summer long though for the kids ;0)

    What I loved about this post is that you are both working parents and still ‘cooking’ and eating at home with your family. So many families, so many, are not cooking or eating together at all and it worries me that the family unit in Ireland is disintegrating …

    1. Hi Mona, thanks so much for taking the time to comment, it means a lot.

      We tend to do veggie once a week, usually a chickpea and veg stew or curry and during the winter we eat fish pie a lot in the winter but we’ve got to work on more too.. Paper plates are a brilliant idea, are you kids old enough to wash up yet? I long for that here.

      Things are slightly different at the moment since I’m on maternity leave, on work days usually the freezer is full (of the dinners I’ve cooked this week) and I cook one or two evenings, but the boys eat in the childminder’s – (food that I’ve batchcooked and frozen) and I tend to sit down and have a snack sitting together at the table before bed, tea and toast, maybe rice pudding, or crackers and cheese. In fact, I think that the boys eat better when I’m in work!

  3. I love this post…I love cooking but get so tired of trying to think of things to cook for weekday meals, I try cook one new dish, from my extensive cookbook collection (if only to justify their existence ) each week, I hound my husband to suggest at least one dish and I usually speak to my sis to see what she’s cooking and then steal some of her ideas! This week consists of: Mon Braised Lamb Shanks, Tue Roast Chicken, gravy potatoes etc, Wed Spagetti Bolognaise, Thur Lasagna (Weds left over Bolognaise) Fri Homemade Goujons if I’m home on time Or Fish Fingers if I’m not😊

    1. Thanks for commenting Elizabeth, love this too. I’ve loads of cookbooks too and tend to start checking things on the BBC good food website too. I’m aiming to add to my repertoire when I’m off.
      Laughed at the goujons -vs- fishfingers comment. Keep sharing and we can both steal your sister’s ideas:)

  4. There are just 2 of us here… and we go through the same thing! What’s for dinner?? Try to keep it varied and interesting, but sometimes you just don’t feel like cooking. So since Sunday (as far back as I can remember!) we’ve had home-made beef burgers and home fries, Mon- roast chicken, with veg etc, Tues, home-made pizza with left-over chicken, tonight lamb chops with mash and veg.

  5. Love this post too. Our family meals are a little pasta heavy too so have been making a bit of an effort there but here is the last 7 meals I cooked: Lamb Rogan Josh (Jamie Oliver), Chilli Con Carne (Jamie Oliver), Chicken Provencale (Rachel Allen), Homemade Beef Burgers with Potato Wedges, Pasta with Chorizo in a Spicy Creamy Tomato Sauce, Cannelloni (Delia Smith) and Spinach, Feta, Bacon & Pine Nut Tart.

    The next 7 are Pork Stroganoff (Delia Smith), Baked Cod with a Parmesan Crust, Homemade Pizza, Lebanese Feast ( Lamb Koftas, Chicken Kebabs, Hummous, Tzatziki, Couscous, Pittas & Olives), Beef Stew (Jamie Oliver), Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne (Delia Smith) and Baked Salmon Fillets.

    I meal plan and while it took me a while to get used to it I find it easy to do now.

      1. Most of the recipes are ones I make often. The new one this week (tonight) is the Baked Cod with the Parmesan Crust – the Crust is from Delia Smith. On Saturday we are doing the Lebanese and I am going to try the Tabbouleh from Salma Hage’s The Lebanese Kitchen which I haven’t done before.

  6. Great post and yes it is nice to know what others are eating. I spent a year doing one dinner a week from Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals and the knock on from that is that I got into serving meals in a communal manner… lots of dishes on the table kind of thing. Which I do kind of like the look of. Some meals are terribly ugly though… yesterday’s dinner was so ugly I considered taking a photo of it ;0) I had made a mish mash casserole the day before using stewing beef…. lots of veg, tomatoes, olives, chick peas. Served it with rice. The kids ate it but grumbled about the chickpeas. There was lots left over so I decided to blend the sauce so they wouldn’t notice the chick peas and serve it with baked potatoes next day. When I mashed the spuds with the sauce it turned a horrible dirty dull brown colour. It was the UGLIEST meal I had ever created! I really had to bribe them with an after dinner treat to get them to eat it!!

  7. Great real-life post! Tonight I asked my six year old what we should do for dinner next week -she said “why don’t we make a plan like we do with my school lunches, like have spaghetti bolognese every Monday and roast chicken every Tuesday?” Out of the mouths of babes and all that! So I’m going to stop trying to think of interesting and different ideas for week nights and go with a weekly rota – if the kids don’t mind, who am I to argue! Definitely going to try your sausage and leek casserole this Friday 🙂

  8. Sinead, you see all my ugly dinners on Instagram!! I batch cook a lot so there’s various red or brown plastic containers in the freezers containing chili, ragu, cottage pie or curry. I’m in the habit of taking something out the night before and deciding if it gets pasta or rice depending on the thawed smell (I don’t always write down the contents!).

    I’m home alone two nights a week and I eat lazy food – the favourite tends to be fish finger sandwiches if we have any white bread or loads of houmous and crackers. Takeaways about twice a month and homemade pizza with shopbought bases for Saturday nights.

    Also a big fan of everybody’s reduced to clear sections and that can change the dinner plan depending on what I uncover

    1. Thanks Aoife, will have to a good look now, I like reality.

      What shopbought pizza bases do you recommend, I keep meaning to get them but can’t find them in Tesco Gorey.

      Hummus and crackers is one of my staples too, or cheese and relish and lots of olives from my local friendly cheese stall 🙂

      My dinner plan doesn’t exist til I start cooking so there’s nothing to change.

      1. The ones in Dunnes by http://www.pizzadapiero.com/ They’re not that cheap at €4 for two large bases but they are such good quality and great for when I’m too lazy to make dough. I got Toonsbridge mozzarella in town last night so I think it might be Pizza Sunday

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