In the micro-economy of my quotidian life, little confounds me more than what to have for dinner. Breakfast feels manageable: I have 20 minutes and three circulating options (toast with peanut butter, toast with eggs or, as of recently, a banana smoothie). Lunch feels either boring or expensive, but always quick: leftovers in the work fridge or Sweetgreen down the street. Dinner, with its open timetable (whenever you want between work and bed), its bevy of choices (literally anything) and approaches to get there (graze, microwave, cook, order in, go out), leaves me consistently frozen.
What the hell do people eat for dinner? If you recall my confessions of a snacker or the serving-size recommendations I routinely disregard, you’ll know I’m an untrustworthy agent of my own diet. If I work late (short on time), am on a budget (short on money), and want to eat healthy but am short on energy, what the hell should I eat? It’s a silly question I’d rather not ask for personal brand reasons, but my kitchen and digestive system and general sense of wellbeing would rather I do.
To start, I asked around the office for ideas: What the F did they eat for dinner?
“A poached egg on greens and then a variety of stuff mixed in depending on what I have on hand (different nuts, dried fruit, meat, cheese, etc). Usually preceded or followed by tortilla chips and salsa, which keep me humble.”
“In terms of my typical dinners, mine fall into one of three categories: restaurant meals as a vehicle to socialization; a sampler platter of my favs from my corner deli; or a smattering of snacks/leftovers/couch crumbs I can scrounge up in my apartment.”
“Salad with a piece of fish.”
“A frequent and favorite dinner: soft-boiled egg, short grain brown rice, crunchy sprouts, shaved brussel sprout salad with walnuts, steamed broccoli, a few pieces of sweet potato, sliced avocado, sprouted almonds, sauerkraut, radish slices, a handful of sugar snap peas, gomasio, a couple olives and an umeboshi plum at the end. I usually prepare it all at the beginning of the week so it’s easy to assemble. I feel weird/exposed.”
“Some sort of bean/lentil rice veggie burger, sautéed kale and garlic and vegan kimchi in a gluten free wrap with sweet potatoes.”
“Weekday dinners suck. I usually have 1) a sad salad, 2) a blah protein with vegetables from Seamless, 3) a work-related drink-plus-weird-shared-snacks that don’t really fill me up or 4) sushi. My most substantial meal is lunch. I actually eat a lot of tacos and ‘breakfast for dinners,’ too. On the weekends: Pad Thai, cheeseburgers. Not together. French fries and oysters. Those ones go together. I am so hungry right now.”
“Sometimes I like to have a ‘snack dinner’ which is comprised of the following snacks: vegetable course (roasted broccoli and baby carrots with a huge glob of hummus for dipping), protein course (probs some chicken apple sausage from Trader Joe’s), carbohydrate course (Organic Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn from Buddha Bowl), dairy course (a greek yogurt topped with Dang coconut chips) and dessert course (one Hershey’s Kiss). Other times I like to have a regular dinner, which I order on Seamless from either Taboonette (the warm kale salad is sooooo good) or Spring Street Natural (I love the stir-fried vegetables with farro).”
“Seamless or my boyfriend cooks. (I don’t cook.)”
Their answers fell into a binary of either making me feel understood (snack dinner) or making me feeling inadequate (Kate’s entire answer). I must admit I feel less sure than I did before, which is why I need you to tell me what the hell you eat for dinner, plus the general thinking behind it, if you’re feeling generous, because I feel lost and I’m convinced the only answer is MORE COWBELL (DATA). Please?