Photo: Squire Fox

3 casual meals that let the eaters pile on their own fave toppings. These menus are ideal for Friday nights when the kids' friends are over, when you have family in town for the holidays, or when you need to feed a big crew of folks before the big game. Use our suggestions, mix and match with your favorite recipes, and then set up a supper that is sure to leave bellies full and happy.

August 26, 2014

Even as the deceleration of the weekend begins, many families find Friday night eating just as chaotic as on any weekday: After all, it's a workday, a soccer day, a get-stuff-done day. Friday dinner needs to be flexible, with a menu that will hold up over a few hours and can be dished out easily. With that end in mind, we've got you covered: three nourishing, serve-yourself supper bars with enough options to appeal to everyone's tastes.

First, choose your base dish: tacos, stuffed potatoes, or chili. Then decide just how simple you want things to be: Make one option or both, depending on tastes and time. Broil fish or grill steak for the taco filling. The potatoes and chili offer veggie or meat-lover options, or you can please a split crowd by making a bit of each. Load the sweet potato with hearty grains and veggies, or top it with cinnamon-scented chicken. Serve our chili meat-free, or stir in cooked ground beef or turkey. Set out some extra toppings for everyone to pick and choose from, and you've got a winning Friday night supper bar.

 Photo: Squire Fox

TACO NIGHT

These toppings are hearty enough to make tacos a complete meal. They hold up well, so slice, shred, and chop ahead, and store everything covered and refrigerated right in their serving dishes:

 Photo: Squire Fox

SWEET POTATO NIGHT

Try our hearty barley or chicken option, or go for your own custom creation:

 Photo: Squire Fox

CHILI NIGHT

Keep toppings like sour cream and cheese chilled until diners arrive to prevent spoiling or melting. It's also a good idea to let everyone slice the avocado and radish as needed to keep the avocado from turning brown and the radish from drying out. Crumble chips right onto the chili to avoid waste. For meat lovers, you can add ground beef to our vegetarian chili.