Episode 25: How to make nachos a legit family dinner
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This week’s episode is the first of a new, single-topic format that we’ll be exploring this season, and we’re kicking things off with nachos — but not for the reason you might expect. Yes, we know there’s a big game coming up. And, yes, nachos are the perfect thing to eat while watching. But would we ever dedicate a whole episode to game day food just because of the World Series?
We kid. We know it’s a super white Maroon 5 concert.
We’re talking nachos because we believe they are one of the most underrated family meals around. We’ll tell you why and fill you in on all the gloriously easy ways that you can use nachos to make a fast meal packed with good stuff that your kids will actually eat. Plus, get our tips on how to build them perfectly. Because soggy, structurally unsound nachos suck for everyone.
What Makes Nachos Nachos?
Are proteins fundamental?
Before we get into why nachos are such a great family dinner, it’s important to define the key elements of nachos. Obviously, chips and cheese are fundamental, but what about protein? Meghan says no, and while Stacie agrees in theory, when turning nachos into a family dinner, she believes that protein is key. On the other hand, Meghan wonders: If you can pack your nachos with veggies, are beans or meat really neccessary?
It’s a fair question.
In whichever camp you fall, not just any ingredients will do. But, again, Stacie and Meghan found themselves disagreeing!
Chips: Can you use any old chips? Are chips even fundamental, or can you use other ingredients all together as the base of your nachos? Stacie feels strongly about this one, while Meghan shares that time when she fell for Sweet Potato Nachos while doing Whole30.
Cheese: This might have brought up our biggest disagreement of all! While we both like the idea of cheese sauce (Stacie digs this Chipotle Cheddar Beer Sauce), we do not see eye to eye about using pre-shredded cheese. Although, if you do use a pre-shredded cheese, we both admit that you should look for a brand that avoids anti-caking agents, like Tillamook. We also agree that you should combine cheeses: Just one kind is boring.
And nobody likes boring nachos.
Listen to get the low-down on all of Stacie and Meghan’s chips, cheese, and protein recommendations (the conversation about beans goes deep), including how to put them together so that your nachos are structurally sound, texturally varied, and easy to eat. Also, here are some other products and links that we mention in the episode:
Vegan cheese options:
How to Turn Nachos Into a Legit Family Dinner
Let’s get practical for a second, shall we?
Once you define what nachos are for you, it’s time to figure out how to make nachos work for your kids — or, really, for all the eaters in your family, with all their varied tastes.
This is where the rubber hits the road and, honestly, why we love nachos so much. The fact that you can easily make one big or several individual trays to customize, give everyone choices, and layer in lots of veggies and other good stuff, all with plenty of chips and cheese to keep the masses happy, is why nachos are so brilliant.
Stacie and Meghan have several tips for what “good stuff” we include in our nachos (including how we use them to get rid of leftovers!) and also how to incorporate a DIY element without going nuts and having tons of dishes to clean.
Some recipes, products, and links that we mention as we talk it all through:
Meghan’s Sheet Pan Nachos with all the cheese!
Stacie’s Homemade Taco Seasoning
Stacie’s Carnitas recipe
Smoked salt at Penzys (where you can also find all of the other dried spices mentioned in the episode; this is one of our favorite spice purveyors *not a sponsor*)
Stacie’s Quickest Lime Pickled Red Onion
What toppings are a nacho must?
In this week’s lightening round, Meghan and Stacie named their top 10 favorite nacho toppings. And things got heated! (Not just because of hot sauce.)
You’ll have to listen to the episode to get our full lists, but here are three of our favorites:
3 of Stacie’s Top 10 Nacho Toppings:
Thinly shaved purple cabbage
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
Cubed avocado (NOT guac!)
3 of Meghan’s Top 10 Nacho Toppings:
Fresh chopped tomato
Queso fresco, or just in general, MORE cheese please!