B. Y. O. B. :: Weeknight Dinners for Everyone

B.Y.O.B. has a new meaning when it comes to weeknight family-pleasing meals: build your own bowl.

I have been very lucky to have non-picky eaters for kids. I chalk it up to having diversity in cuisine at a very young age. We gave them bites of all things we ate, and we asked them to take two “no thank you” bites during meals when they thought they wouldn’t like the food. The first bite they have in their mind they won’t like it, so the second bite allows them to try again without that mindset. Does it always work? No, but sometimes it does.

We are also, and always have been, a family on the go: my husband and I often work opposite schedules, and with extracurricular kid activities, we are often eating at different times or late in the evening.

Build your own bowls are a favorite in our house. It allows for everyone to pick what they want and have dinner on different schedules. Some of our go-to bowls are:


  • Miso Ginger soup from Trader Joe’s or the Ramen broth at Target, saute some green onion (white sections) and garlic in the pot before putting in your broth, boil and add ramen noodle packs. Add flavor packet to soup as desired.
  • Toppings can be any vegetables, our go-to choices are: steamed baby bok choy, carrots, edamame, and corn. Medium boiled eggs cut in half (soak in 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 rice vinegar after peeling for at least 30 minutes before slicing and adding to soup). Furikake and green onions.
  • Add a protein: chicken, shrimp, beef, tofu are all delicious choices!

California Roll Bowl

  • We typically use jasmine rice as our base, but a short-grain rice with a few splashes of rice wine vinegar will give it a little more of a true sushi feel.
  • Top with imitation crab salad (crab and mayo), grilled salmon (we like to marinate it with some teriyaki sauce), avocado, edamame, mango, pickled cucumber salad , and furikake.

BBQ Chicken Salad

I worked at a restaurant with an amazing BBQ chicken salad when I was in high school, so of course, I had to recreate it in my menu rotation.

  • Grilled chicken breast, seasoned, and topped with your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Top chopped butter lettuce and romaine mixed with black beans, carrots, corn, tomatoes, avocado, chicken, and fried onions
  • The dressing is 1/2 ranch and 1/2 BBQ sauce

If you build it, they will come

The possibilities are endless and I am always looking for new recipes for quick weeknight dinners! We love the above recipes, but tacos, pizzas, and pancakes are also some of our favorites. My kids love a build your own night, the flexibility of timing, and of everyone getting to choose what toppings they want it really is a win-win for everyone.

Nikki was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she has lived in Seattle and Portland. After visiting New Orleans, she fell in love with the city, and she and her husband decided to take a chance and move from the PNW to NOLA. Nikki has two kids, Amaya (16) and Tyson (13), she and her husband Dave have been married for 16 years, they live on the Northshore. Nikki works full time as a NICU nurse. Nikki and her family have fully embraced the culture of New Orleans, while they live on the Northshore, they play in New Orleans as often as they can. As a member of New Orleans Mom, she hopes to bring the perspective of the veteran mom and life with big kids and teenagers.


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