Time For Dinner – make time to eat as a family

It’s back to school.   Sounds crazy, but I get the same feeling the day before school starts that I do on New Year’s eve. That moment when you can hit the reset button and all your past flaws and blowups are erased and you are given a clean slate.

So with my clean slate, my mind focuses on 3 things:

  1. I vow not to allow math homework to be my undoing.
  2. I resolve to handle all the other homework, brand-new-school drama, schedule changes, after-school activity carpooling, soccer games and work projects in a calm manner without losing my  @*&% .
  3. I am determined to continue to create healthy meals and gather the family around the table for dinner so we can replenish and reconnect.

Many may think that after reading resolutions 1 and 2, it would be a good idea to put resolution #3 on the back burner until life calms down a bit. But if you think about it, those are the exact reasons why family dinner is even more essential than ever.

Life is crazy busy and it never stops.

There will never be a week with no orthodontist appointments, no soccer practice, no last minute essay writing/projects to finish, no permission slips to sign 2 minutes before the kids leave for school, no meetings, no play dates, no last minute client requests, no forgotten lunches while heading out the door, no away soccer games that you promised to go to but can’t figure out a way to end the conference call that you are on in order to get there.

Family dinner is something that we have to “fit into” our organized chaos. We have to embrace it because that’s the default state for most of us. That’s when we — cause I know you’re with me on this  — crave its restorative powers the most.

So start tonight. Start with this… and then tell me that making time for a family dinner is a bad idea.

Chicken with Zucchini and Eggplant

chicken zucchini

Active time: 15 minutes     Total time:  30 minutes

Make Ahead Preparations:

  • Make the yogurt sauce
  • Make the spice mixture


  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 scallions, white and light green portions, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into 8-10 pieces
  • 4 zucchini, each cut lengthwise into 3 pieces
  • Olive oil for brushing


  1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cilantro and scallions and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat the grill.
  3. In another small bowl, combine the curry powder, chili powder, cumin and coriander and stir to blend.
  4. Transfer the chicken breasts to a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place the eggplant and zucchini on a separate rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the top side of the chicken and vegetables with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top of each chicken breast with 1/4 teaspoon of the spice mixture, and then lightly sprinkle the vegetables with the spice mixture. Turn the chicken and vegetables over and repeat drizzling with the oil and seasoning the ingredients (reserve any remaining spice mixture for another use). For a milder flavor on the chicken, use less spice mixture.
  5. Place the chicken and vegetables on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the chicken and vegetables are just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side for the chicken and eggplant, and about 6 minutes per side for the zucchini. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  6. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter. Serve with the yogurt sauce.

 Serve with rice or couscous.  And enjoy time with your family at dinner!

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Trish Ryan is the founder of Time for Dinner, a service to help simplify the meal planning process and enjoy dinner with your family.

Time For Dinner members are provided recipes for five simple, healthy, seasonal meals including side dishes each week. Meal plans are created to be efficient and eliminate waste. Ingredients are maximized to create balanced dinners that play off each other. Members are also provided with an organized shopping list, cost estimates to help keep you on budget, a list of pantry items you will need, and guides to meal preparation.

As a Princeton Scoop reader, enjoy 20% off your membership. Plus, from now until the end of September, new members get a free e-book to help you get back into the swing of school lunches. To join visit http://timefordinnerplanning.com/back-school/

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