DIY Family Dinner – Turkey Taco Bowls
This DIY Turkey Taco Bowl dinner is a healthy 30-minute meal that will be gobbled up by the entire family – from toddlers to grown-ups! Because everyone gets to assemble their own bowls, everyone leaves the table happy and satisfied.
Whether you serve this family meal on Tuesday or not, Turkey Taco Bowls are going to be a big hit in your house!
Besides everyone leaving the dinner table healthy and happy, the best part about Taco Bowls is that there are endless possibilities of what you can serve inside of them as well as how you serve them. Because there are so many food possibilities, you can make and serve this family meal every week without anyone even knowing it. There is no food boredom here.
In this post, I talked a lot about the benefits of serving your family a DIY style of dinner at least a couple of times a week.
So I won’t go into all the details of why I swear by using this method of serving dinner to my family.
But there was one thing that happened tonight at dinner that blew me away that I wanted to share.
Tonight my 3-year old, Parker, who was beginning to be become a very selective food eater, served herself two items that before tonight she would have fussed about getting on her plate – beans and cilantro (or any green things really).
She ran up to the counter, climbed up on her little step stool, and told me exactly what she wanted me to put in her bowl.
Parker – “lots of rice, a little turkey, 1 bean okay 3 beans, lots and lots of avocado, more avocado, these things (peppers), 2 tomatoes and just a little cheese tonight. Wait, what’s this green stuff?”
Me – “Cilantro”
Parker – “That’s cool. Add that in.”
And just like that, my somewhat selective food eater, opened up her food world to two new amazing ingredients! I wanted to make a big deal about it. I wanted to jump up and down and act like the nerd I am, but instead I just grabbed her spoon, took her bowl to the table and let her polish off her bowl.
So, if you have kids of any age that need to expand their palates, then keep at this DIY approach to family dinners. I promise you, your kids will end up surprising you. This might not happen the first time you do a DIY dinner, but it will happen. And when they do, you can then do your very own nerdy happy dance!
Turkey Taco Bowls – THE SPREAD
Fell free to mix up this meal based on what you have in the fridge and what you are craving that night. Except for avocado. Avocados are must with this meal and really any meal that gets a thumbs up in my book;)
- Seasoned Ground Turkey (recipe below) – can use ground beef or chicken as well. My friend put her pinto beans right into the seasoned turkey, which is brilliant if you have a picky bean eater.
- Cilantro Lime Rice (recipe below) – can use brown rice or quinoa as well
- Avocado Chunks – any way you serve avocado is a good way in my opinion. You can serve chunked, sliced or made into your favorite guacamole.
- Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
- Shredded Lettuce – I used living bib lettuce, but you can use any lettuce you prefer
- Pinto Beans – can use refried beans or black beans as well. You can spice your beans up with a little onion, garlic and chili powder if you have the time.
- Diced Yellow and Red Peppers – sliced or diced works for toddlers as well
- Sliced Cherry Tomatoes – cut in half or quarters for younger toddlers
- Cilantro – I was actually surprised that both of my kids put some cilantro (and ate it) in their bowls
- Salsa – homemade or store-bought are both wins in my book
- Chips – you can leave these out if you want a healthier meal, or make your own in the oven, but I went with a grain-free chip here for a little crunch
- Lime Wedges
OTHER FUN OPTIONS TO TRY
- Other Delicious Meats – Seasoned Ground Beef or chicken, Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, Beef, Chicken or Shrimp Fajitas, the list of amazing meats for tacos is endless.
- Vegetarian Options – roasted cauliflower, lentil tacos
- Fish – nothing is better to me then fish tacos! I just pan fry some white fish with a little garlic powder, onion and chili powder until crisp and serve as an add-in to this meal.
- Spanish Rice – homemade or from a box
- Hard Shell Tacos – always entertaining to watch kids try to eat a hard shell taco;)
- Tortillas – you can easily make this meal into burritos if that is your jam. For younger kids, just put a little bit of meat, cheese and veggies into a tortilla wrap it up and cut in half, make sure it is about 1-2 inches round.
- Sautéed Peppers and Onions – you can up your veggie game by making some simple sautéed pepper and onions
- Jalapeno Peppers – maybe not for the kids, but you can add some sliced jalapeños to your mix if you are brave enough
- Sour Cream – not even sure how I forgot to add this to dinner tonight
- Corn – roasted or fresh off the cob]
3 AND 6 YEAR OLD PLATES
I had all of the ingredients for the turkey tacos on the counter and my 3 and 6 year old got to pick what they wanted from it. Since I was taking a picture, I helped them load up their plates but the decision of what and how much was completely up to them.
3 and 6 Year Old – I think I forgot to give them an afternoon snack or something, because they loaded up their bowls! They both had the rice, turkey, avocado, peppers, a couple of beans, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and cheese. My 6 year old added in some lettuce to hers as well. I was so happy to see my 3 year old add beans and cilantro to her bowl all-by-herself. If I had added those items to her plate without her consent I would have never heard the end of it and after 5 minutes of her whining I would have had to pick them out. Just shows that when kids can load up their own plates, they will surprise you with what they put on it.
GROWN UP PLATES
Mom – I am gluten free and try to save my carbs for when I really need them. Some nights I skip the lettuce and just do the rice, but I had some gluten free bread for lunch and I knew I would have a couple of chips, so I skipped the rice at this meal. I loaded up my bowl with lettuce, turkey, cherry tomatoes, peppers, cheese, salsa and all of the avocado. The salsa and the moist turkey was enough of a dressing for me, but you can top with any of your favorite dressings as well. A cilantro dressing would be amazing on this.
Dad – My husband loaded up his bowl with like 4 pieces of lettuce, rice, turkey, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, avocados and a good amount of chips.
Dessert – If our girls eat enough of their meals or try everything on their plates, they get to have dessert, which is usually a piece of dark chocolate. Tonight I mixed it up for this dessert and served a small bowl of sliced fresh organic strawberries along with a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. The girls (and my hubby) went crazy over it! Which means I either totally deprive them of sweets or that little cute bowls of ripe strawberries will win over people of all ages.
LUNCHES AND MEAL PREP
I try to always pack lunches for the next day right after we finish dinner. I can’t for the life of me get my act together at 6am to pack lunches, so if it doesn’t happen the night before the chances are high that it won’t happen at all. I try really hard to use anything I have leftover from dinner in the lunches for the next day.
6 Year Old School Lunch – Elliette’s lunch included a quesadilla made with cheese and turkey, slices of peppers, cut strawberries, chunks of kiwi and a chocolate energy bite. I got a lot of questions about packing quesadillas on Instagram when I posted this picture. Here is how I make mine so they don’t get soggy. I heat a pan on a little more then medium heat, I do not add oil. I add a handful of cheese and a little meat to the quesadilla and then place on the pan. Make sure the first side is golden brown, flip and repeat. Take quesadilla off of the pan and set on cutting board. You need to let it cool for 5-10 minutes before you pack it. Once it is cool, cut and pack into container. The bento box I used doesn’t have a tight seal, so if your bento box does, then leave a corner of it cracked so the hot air can escape. I have made these both the night before and in the morning with great results.
Mom’s Lunch – Basically the same as the night before – a big salad with lettuce, turkey, cheese, tomatoes, peppers, avocado (I squeeze the extra limes over the avocado to help them keep fresh) and a big handful of chips on the side.
TURKEY TACO BOWL RECIPES
Seasoned Ground Turkey
1 pound ground turkey (chicken or beef will also work)
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of water or chicken stock
1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown meat. Drain any excess fat.
2. Add in all spices and 1/2 cup of liquid, stir until everything is incorporated. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. You can let this summer for up to an hour, but you may have to add in a little extra water if the meat starts to dry out.
Spicy Factor – this seasoning mixture doesn’t have any spiciness to it, but it does have a great amount of flavor. If you want to add a little heat, you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the seasoning as well.
Cilantro Lime Rice
3 cups of cooked rice (quinoa would also work in this recipe)
1-2 tablespoons of butter
1 lime, freshly squeezed
1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place hot cooked rice in a bowl, add in all other ingredients, stir well and serve.
Rice – I make my rice in the Instant Pot, but you can use any method you like best.
Cilantro – this rice has a very mild flavor because I am serving this to my preschooler. You can certainly up the amount of cilantro and add in another squeezed lime for a more intense flavor.