Summer Time! Dinner Time! Relaxing Time!

What’s for dinner at your house this summer?

What’s for dinner at your house this summer?

Last week, I attended a conference in Kansas City where I gave one of my “Dinner Time” talks. After sharing all the reasons why having dinner together with your family is so important, I went on to share some of the ways that help to get this meal to the table. As always, I stressed the importance of meal planning—but wait, after being a couple of weeks into summer, I realized that I hadn’t been doing a very good job with this. OK, I hadn’t been doing it all. Gosh! What a hypocrite I am! There is just something about summer and vacation time that makes me want to take a break from it all. Who needs to eat, anyways?

But of course, we all need to eat. And I do enjoy those late dinners together while sitting out on our patio. I know that it doesn’t happen easily unless I do a little planning. So my solution for this summer is a basic menu that I will use throughout the summer—week after week. By the time I am really tired of it, fall and back to school will be here.

It works like this: I simply have the same meal on the same day of the week. When I do my weekly grocery shopping, I just need to make sure that I’ve got the food covered for all of those particular days. This menu also keeps me from turning on the oven in the hot afternoon.

Sunday is our pizza night. (I make sure we’ve got a variety of toppings.)
Monday is grilling. (I’ve bought some kind of meat that is probably marinated in something or can be put on a bun.)
Tuesday is a pasta bar. (This is served with different sauces, veggies, chopped up meat or sausage, cheese.)
Wednesday is grilling, again! (Same as before. I also serve a grilled or steamed veggie with rice or potatoes.)
Thursday is the slow cooker. (There is a little more planning for this—lots of suggestions at I had baked potatoes and ham this week. Yes, baked potatoes in a slow cooker. Who would have thought?)
Friday is grilling. Yes, again. (Usually fish—salmon, shrimp, or tilapia.)
Saturday is Mexican Night. (Make your own burrito, nachos, or taco salad, like Moe’s—I include beans, some kind of meat, rice, salad, salsa, cheese, and always, fresh guacamole.)

I’ve done this for a week, and the family has loved it. We are actually looking forward to next week’s pasta bar where everyone has a suggestion for an addition. And both the cooking and planning is so much easier for me, especially with my husband taking on the role of Grill Master.

To make it simpler still, we serve every meal buffet style. Each person just loads up his/her plate inside and heads outside where we can all sit comfortably on our back patio to enjoy the summer evening and each other’s company.

Copyright 2012 Tami Kiser


About Author

Tami Kiser is a wife, mother, teacher, author, and speaker. She runs a video production studio featuring Catholic speakers. These can be purchased or viewed on Formed. She also is the co-owner and host of a new Catholic Retreat and Cultural Center in the Carolina Mountains called Heart Ridge. She has taught everything from NFP, Zumba, cleaning toilets, Catholic crafting, the hula, bullet journaling, tap dancing, and liturgical living to Saxon Math 54 for the 10th time.


  1. Tami — I wish I had your sense of routine. Honestly, I am a bit of a mess when it comes to dinner time in general. My husband works different hours every week and is often gone during dinner. This has been the case for years and we tend to be in “survival mode” many nights of the week. Interestingly, it’s resulted in having two sons who love to cook, and often they do that for me! Loved hearing your schedule. Maybe I will start small with one routine night of the week…

  2. At first when you said you had a set menu I thought you meant 7 set main courses, rotated all summer. That thought horrified me, because I love variety! But I love your “themed” meal plan. In my house, during the school year, pasta night (easy prep and cleanup) is always the same night as the Scout meeting. I think your idea of daily “themes” would work well in my family. Thanks for this easy method of meal planning.

  3. Tami, I first want to say that I love your book! I have been trying to implement some of the ideas I learned from your book into my life. I have been thinking about doing something like you mentioned here, with each night having a loose theme to make my planning easier but I tend to overthink it. I love the ideas that you’ve suggested and think I will start with them! Thanks!

  4. Maureen O'Shea on

    Great post! So true that summer time takes us all out of our routines with our schedules up in the air, it is a great time to have a dinnertime schedule that we can count on. Instead of pizza. Again! Thanks so much, great ideas.

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