Skip to content

YOYO Dinner – When You’ve Just Had It Up to Here

When my kids were younger, there were some nights that I completely ran out of steam and gave up any pretense of being a responsible parent. Those were the nights, usually Sundays, when I announced there was to be a YOYO (You’re On Your Own) dinner. I’d put on my pj’s, make myself a bowl of cereal, walk into the den, turn on the tv, and make unintelligible responses to any questions or demands. I think my husband, in a blind panic, probably got them pizza on those nights. Maybe even candy.

I highly recommend going the YOYO route every so often. But there’s a lot of room between that and a high-effort, time-consuming dinner. Here’s an idea that can be fun for the family, as well as healthy: grain bowls.

Using a healthy grain – such as quinoa, wheatberries, farro, or brown rice – as a base, you (&/or your kids) can just set out dishes of all sorts of delicious, nutrient-rich ingredients and let each person make their own. Maybe have a contest for who makes (and at least samples) the most colorful bowl. You can make the grain and the sauce way ahead of time put out everything cold or room temperature. If people want their food hot, point to the microwave.

I’m giving you a really quick and easy recipe for peanut sauce because both kids and adults love it and because it’s great as a dip, on salads, or with noodles. Even better, it keeps for a week or so in the refrigerator. So you might want to make a big batch. But you could also just use a vinaigrette dressing or hot sauce or just skip a sauce altogether if you want to take the long-suffering route.

Some examples of what you might want to use include:

Extra protein (although whole grains have quite a bit themselves):

  • chicken, shrimp, tofu, etc.


  • cooked or raw cut-up peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, shredded cabbage, sugar snap peas, avocado slices, cilantro or parsley leaves, etc.

Crunchy stuff:

  • pumpkin or sunflower seeds, roasted chickpeas, chopped nuts or peanuts

So that’s it for now. Stay cool, stay healthy, stay kind.

And give yourself a break. You’re good enough already.


Easy Peasy Peanut Sauce

  • 1 -2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup salted creamy peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 2-3 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 2- Tbsp lime juice or 1 Tbsp lime juice & 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • dash of hot sauce (optional)
  • hot water
  1. With the motor running in a food processor, drop in the garlic, and run until it’s minced.
  2. Add the peanut butter, tamari, syrup, lime juice, and hot sauce. Process until combined.
  3. With the motor running, gradually add hot water until the consistency is the way you like it.