Can You Start Dinner?

If you are in a commuting, two-working-parent relationship, the IM correspondence with your spouse between 4:00 and 5:00 PM probably reads something like this:

d: train?
m: 5:41 hopefully. u?
d: 6:27. hopefully.
m: dinner?
d: dunno. what do u think?
m: not sure. pasta?
d: had pasta for lunch. chili?
you there?

m: S#%T !!!!!! sue just called a 5:00 mtg. prob on 6:27 w/ u.

When Remote Dinner Paralysis* strikes, you can do one of two things: You can browse all those recipe Apps you bought for this very occasion yet somehow never remember are there. Or you can call home and ask whoever answers (babysitter, 8-year-old, sock monkey) to complete a so-easy-even-a-sock-monkey-can-do-it task: put a pile of baking potatoes in the oven then turn the heat to 450°F. And then — Sue, be damned — you can still have family dinner on time.

*i.e. you can’t think of any ideas for dinner, and you are too far away from the kitchen to open up the fridge, poke around the pantry, flip through your TFD for inspiration.

Related: Pork Chops Tonight?

Baked Potato Bar

Bake six potatoes (or 1 1/2 potatoes per diner) in a 450°F oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven, split , and top with any of the following:

-cheddar (before serving, add back to oven under broiler til it melts)
-Caramelized onions (2 large onions, sliced and cooked on low heat for 15-2o minutes)
-Cooked bacon, chopped
-Broccoli (steamed)
-Sour cream, Butter, Ketchup

P.S: I drew some very JV-looking “Guest Checks” for a game of restaurant over the weekend, but Phoebe decided they’d be put to better use in the real kitchen. She took our toppings orders and made sure everything matched up.

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I totally do this- Baked potatoes are my ‘rabbit out of a hat’ trick. I’ve even been known to microwave a few spuds in a pinch (scandalous yet edible). I always have chili in the freezer making ‘Chili-Cheese Baked Potatoes’ a pretty popular meal around here. So nice to have a successful dinner on a crazy night.

I love this blog. You’re simultaneously realistic and inspiring- a rare combo.


OMG. Those potatoes look so good!
This is kinda a fall back for me too. Baked potato (in the microwave for 4-8 minutes!) then topped w/ spinach & “butterfish.”
I call TJ’s waterpacked sardines “butterfish” so the girl will eat them, spine removed, of course!


what did Abby “order” on hers? rutburger, butter? i can’t read Phoebe’s handwriting! (and yes, i zoomed in.) And foil-wrap, or not foil-wrapped? i’m totally making this some night this week.


when we are in a bind we do quessadillas. I’m so sick of quessadillas. I kind of hate them, actually.

My son won’t eat potatoes but I will!

I love your ideas.

Soccer Mama

Very new to the blog. Just wanted to say (a little off topic), that we do potato bar a lot, except I make the potaotes in the crock pot. Poke potatoes; wrap in foil; cook on high for 4 hours. 13-yr-old puts them in when he gets home from school. Love the topping ideas! I’ll steal those for sure.


Thanks for the reminder. We used to do this, but I had forgotten recently. We had it tonight and it was deemed “the best meal of the last 2 months”! I also offered: chopped green onions (my kids are pre-teens and starting to appreciate these), diced fresh tomatoes, sliced black olives, and a can of black beans drained and warmed with a little salsa. Yum! Thanks for your inspiring website.


we do this too, but we top with cottage cheese and salsa. ridiculously easy and everyone eats tons from baby to 4yo twins to mom and dad. one of our best dinners when there is no time for cooking!

Rivki Locker

Love it! When we’re in a pinch and don’t have enough time to bake whole potatoes, I chop them in small piece, toss the, with oil, salt and some pepper, and bake at 425 for half hour. It’s irresistible topped with cheese or served next to broccoli!