Build Your Own Burrito

One of our favourite family meals is burritos. There’s just one little problem. Among the people who regularly eat at my home, I have a niece who is vegetarian, a son who doesn’t like vegetables visibly mixing with his protein, a good friend who can’t eat onions, garlic and bell peppers, and a daughter who would become a vampire except for the no-garlic rule. That doesn’t even count the spicy (me and my kids) and mild (everyone else) camps.

It started long before burritos. When I was taking care of my sister I learned to make build your own everything because I couldn’t make a meal to satisfy everyone. My older niece went through a foods cannot touch phase and was vegetarian for a while before her younger sister took over. My son would only eat plain noodle with soya sauce, peanut butter sandwiches and KD.

I went from being the queen of the one pan meal - a title I held throughout my pre-kid years - to being the master of the Do It Yourself dinner. Everything was cooked separately and served buffet-style.

Thank the hearth goddess that the kids grew out of that phase eventually. I can now make a pasta dish and only worry about keeping the meat separate - not even that if my nieces aren’t over. Still, smiles abound when I announce it’s BYOB night. On the off-chance it will bring a smile to your face, here are my super-simple recipes.

The Meat
I like getting a family-sized lot of hamburger meat and cooking it up all at once. Then we have leftovers for sloppy-joe and nacho lunches.
  • Cook hamburger at medium-high so that it browns as well as cooks through
  • Drain off any excess fat
  • At a medium-low heat, continue to cook hamburger while adding to taste: ketchup, tabasco sauce, soya sauce, cayenne, paprika, sage, chili powder. (I made my own barbeque spice so that there’s no onion or garlic in it) or use a bottled barbeque sauce your family enjoys.

The Beans
  • Saute finely chopped onions until brown and transluscent
  • Take a can of red kidney beans or bean medley, drain, rinse then add it to the onion.
  • Add barbeque spice (see above)
  • Smush the beans as they cook. (Sometimes I blend them so the kids don’t realize what beans I’m using. Mostly I don’t because except for my vegetarian, they won’t touch the beans.)

  • Grated cheese - Monterey Jack is best or mix Mozzarella and Cheddar
  • Guacamole - should be made fresh 
  • Salsa - from the store or made fresh
You can find my recipes for salsa and guacamole at