A Week of Dinners: Michelle Tam

updated Nov 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Stephanie Russo)
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(Image credit: Stephanie Russo)

Welcome to Kitchn’s new series A Week of Dinners, where we show you how people put dinner on the table for their family, thanks to the five weeknight recipes they rely on.

If you’ve ever been interested in the Paleo diet or dabbled in Whole30, then there’s a very good chance you know Michelle Tam. The two-time New York Times bestselling cookbook author is the creator of Nom Nom Paleo, a blog dedicated to all things Paleo and an incredible resource for the diet. She’s also created wildly popular recipes for Kitchn (see here) and just came out with a new cookbook last month.

When she’s not conquering the food world, she’s splits her time between Palo Alto, California, and Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Henry Fong (co-creator and co-author of Nom Nom Paleo), and their two kids, Owen (age 12) and Ollie (age 9). Here’s what she makes to feed her hungry family on busy weeknights.

(Image credit: Stephanie Russo)

What’s Your Dinner Strategy?

I love it when I have all the time in the world to mess around with more complex recipes, but on busy weeknights I’m usually just scrambling to get food on the table and into the hungry mouths of my family. When I’m most desperate, I turn to easy meals that can be made in just one pot or pan.

Over the years, I’ve developed a number of one-pot and one-pan “emergency” recipes, none of which take more than 30 minutes of hands-on prep. The beauty of these recipes is that they’re pretty much complete meals, packed with vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and tons of flavor. (When I’m hankering for even more greens, I toss together a simple salad to serve on the side, too.) Plus, with these healthy, hassle-free meals, I have fewer pots and pans to wash afterwards.

Does one size fit all? In my family, the answer is yes. As I tell my kids, I’m not a short-order cook, which is why I prep just one family meal for supper every evening — but I make sure whatever I make is nourishing and deliciously satisfying for everyone around the table. Ollie and I have a severe gluten intolerance, so we both eat gluten-free all the time. Ollie is also the picky eater in my family, but we eat one family meal when we’re home, and the meals I cook are almost always Paleo or Whole30-friendly.

(Image credit: Stephanie Russo)

A Week of Dinners from Michelle Tam

Here are the five dinners Michelle makes for her family on an average, busy weeknight.

I love the richness and versatility of these Asian-inspired meatballs because I can bake them in the oven or form them into burger patties and fry ’em up. I normally serve the meatballs with a platter of stir-fried bok choy or Napa cabbage.

Yes, you can have Paleo-friendly chicken chow mein on a weeknight! Substitute spiralized white-fleshed Hannah sweet potatoes for the noodles and your family won’t even know they’re eating veggies!

Whenever we crave Tex-Mex cooking, I make these fajitas for supper. The key to non-soggy fajitas is the stainless steel wire rack, which keeps the chicken and veggies from sitting in their own juices during the cooking process.

Nothing is as comforting or easy to make as a pot of pressure-cooked chili. While it cooks in the Instant Pot, I have time to throw together a simple salad and help my kids with their homework. Bonus: This chili freezes amazingly well, which means I can repurpose it in all sorts of other dishes later in the week.

These flavorful protein and veggie patties are a hit with the whole family — especially when paired with the sweet apricot-ginger Sauce. Make extras so you’ll have plenty of leftovers to pack for lunch throughout the week!

Thanks so much for sharing your week of dinners with us, Michelle! Want to start meal planning for your family? Here’s our handy guide.