9 Quick Family Dinners

9 Easy Family Dinners

What does your family eat for dinner? The boys start school next week, so we’ve been pulling together easy recipes — dishes that require little preparation, can be made in advance and taste great as leftovers. Here are nine meals we’re adding to our rotation (and please share yours!)…

9 Easy Family Dinners

One sheet pan does all of the work for these delicious sweet potato fajitas. Leftover vegetables can be refrigerated for up to five days — just toast up the corn tortillas.

9 Easy Family Dinners

A surefire way to get kids to eat vegetables? Broccoli pizza! Use store-bought pizza dough to cut down on time.

9 Easy Family Dinners

These 30-minute fish sticks have the perfect breading-to-fish ratio. Bonus: Freeze uncooked sticks for up to three months.

9 Easy Family Dinners

Three cheers for burrito bowls — a dinner guaranteed to rescue the night, and delicious for both kids and adults.

9 Easy Family Dinners

If your kids are getting hangry, this creamy summer corn chowder that takes only 15 minutes of preparation.

9 Easy Family Dinners

Did you know the secret to a killer quesadilla? The thick sauce of baked beans makes for a surprising but satisfying filling.

9 Easy Family Dinners

Celebrate tomato season with these simple rice-stuffed tomatoes. Deck them out with breadcrumbs or mozzarella cheese.

9 Easy Family Dinners

This chicken meatball sub recipe is one of the more difficult of the bunch, but it calls for “gobs of fresh mozzarella,” which ensures it will be demolished by even the pickiest of eaters. #worthit

9 Easy Family Dinners

Say goodbye to powdered cheese with this bacon and pea pasta (our boys LOVE it). Plus, it takes less time than an episode of Dora.

What family dinners do you like? Where do you find your recipes?

P.S. Trader Joe’s meal hacks and 12 five-ingredient dinners.

  1. Such an amazing article. All the dishes were looking awesome. Among all Broccoli pizza was looking delicious. But will it be looking same when made as it is looking in picture ?

  2. Thank you for sharing!! It’s always hard for me to choose what to cook everyday. This list is very helpful.

  3. Erin says...

    This Martha Stewart sweet potato sausage kale soup from the everyday magazines (theyre so cute and tiny!) is actually quick, really. Tip- just get loose sausage and dont bother mincing the garlic, slicing (or using a press works too) it tastes just as good and there are so many chunky items in the soup it’s not weird. And wash your kale after you put the sweet potato in, prep everything else before you start. I make this so much I can do it by memory in about 30 mins. On the side, I toast some rustic bread slices and rub with a piece of garlic (cut in half) and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with s/p optional.

  4. Sara says...

    I work nightshift as a nurse in a hospital so I am the queen of making stuff that’s great as leftovers. Not sure what the boys are into (if they’d be as adventurous to eat curry or not) but some of my go-to meals are: red thai curry, tuna casserole, chicken tortilla soup, any type of stir fry, chicken enchilada casserole, cheese and spinach stuffed tomatoes, stuffed peppers, turkey chili, veggie pasta salad. I’m also a big fan of using the TJ’s lentils (in the produce section) mixing it with whatever veggies are appealing (I go with garbanzo beans, carrots, edamame, cucumbers and toss it in a dressing either green goddess or champagne vinegarette, I also love the TJ’s barley and veggies in the frozen sections, makes a great side for anything. All these things take less than an hour and only get better as leftovers, good luck!

  5. This looks very delicious and pretty easy to make. Am salivating right now and I will definitely try these recipes out.

  6. Heather A says...

    Do not want to be a Debbie Downer but the corn chowder is NOT a fast family dinner prep-wise. The assembling/chopping/prepping ingredients took me close to 25 minutes and then the cooking takes another 40ish minutes. Tasted great, my 4 year old twins were not as enthusiastic, but I’m very happy to eat it as leftovers soon!

    • Sandra says...

      Ha ha! I had all the ingredients and was about to make it for dinner and then started to look over the recipe and thought the same thing. BUT, the sweet potato fajitas were yummy and didn’t take too much time. We left the onion out since we don’t really eat onion, and my husband added some leftover spicy Italian sausage to his. I’m excited for leftovers tomorrow. :-)

    • Jenny says...

      Yes! We made it tonight and I have the same comment- delicious but there’s no way that you could do all the prep for this recipe in 15 minutes.

    • Sarah says...

      Yes! I feel that way about all recipes. Am I just a sloth in the kitchen? I’ve noticed though that the ingredients listed are already prepared, so it’s almost like the prep time doesn’t include the time it takes to cut up the potatoes or get the corn off the cob. I used to use fresh corn but have since given up and just use frozen every time. Saves a lot of time and mess!

  7. Maureen says...

    Quesadillas with can of refried beans, avocado and shredded cheese – use two large flour tortillas and bake at 415F for 10-12 minutes. Spicy chili is too much for my kids so I do pumpkin chili: and another quick go to recipe is shredded bbq chicken in crock pot with sweet potatoes: package of boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, dump container of fave bbq sauce, cook low for 6 hours or high for three and shred with fork. Also breakfast burritos with large flour tortilla, fried egg, avacado, cheese and salsa.

  8. Nikki B says...

    This is going to sound so strange but my absolute favorite meal growing up was spaghetti and beans. It’s a pound thin egg noodle spaghetti, a can of vegetarian bake beans and a can of tomato sauce. Mix in lots of black pepper and grated cheese. It’s amazing! My sister and I get homesick for my family and will make this old classic. My mom also use to surprise us by adding in cut up hot dogs sometimes. I can’t wait to eventually serve this to my family one day.

  9. Lisa says...

    We are so in a dinner rut, but don’t have the time or energy to think of anything else. Generally it will be something like butternut tortilla and salad (so you make a Spanish style tortilla, but with butternut instead of potatoes – apologies Spanish people. We also sometimes put feta or another cheese in there. Really sorry Spanish people), or paneer curry, stir fried veg and grilled fish (and if we’re really lazy, made using ready cut stir fry vegetables).
    For my toddler – I always try to make sure that I have frozen peas, some kind of cheese and pasta lying around for a basic pasta dish. You can add other vegetables (like grated courgette or chopped up tomato), but I feel with at least pasta, cheese and peas you’ve got some basic food groups covered, it’s very quick to make (as long as the pasta takes to cook) and actually quite tasty

  10. Marie says...

    1. BLTs. I add avocado and basil. Great on ciabatta or sourdough.
    2. My kids love “gooey eggs” and toast
    3. Cheese toasties and tomato soup
    4. I can make good pasta quite fast so I’ll do that a lot.

    • Marie says...

      Also costco: chicken cordon bleu frozen package and the frozen crusted tilapia are great.

  11. Alice says...

    I made the burrito bowl tonight. I used to make a version of it and kind of forgot about it. Was so good and was demolished in minutes by all.

    All hail, Smitten Kitchen! Her lazy pizza dough and sauce is amazing, as is the courgette and gruyere pizza, my 1 and 3 year old inhale that. Her Swiss chard pancakes are quick and healthy, and I often switch chard for spinach. Kids also inhale that.
    Aside from SK, baked potatoes with yoghurt chicken and celery or tuna mayo or chilli or anything from the fridge that isn’t rotten. Noodles and chicken or tofu with veg and peanut sauce. Salmon baked in foil with lemon, steamed brown rice and broccoli is weekly without fail. When life just sucks, creamy porridge with fruit to make it some sorta healthy.

    This would be an incredibly useful occasional series, Jo! Like every six months, to shake us all out of cooking slumps I mean habits.

  12. I LOVE these ideas (both the post and the comments – so many good ideas I want to try)!

    We try to do a mix of dinners that can be prepared quickly like pasta, fish or stir-fry, and food that can be made ahead like a braise or casserole. Thursdays its usually leftovers and Fridays we make pizzas with pizza dough from Trader Joe’s.

    The other day I made chicken adobo in the slow cooker and it was a hit

    This tart, inspired by bacon-wrapped dates is quick and great leftover:

    Also soups and stew. Split pea is a favorite as well as this beef and barley soup:

  13. Denise says...

    My favorite week night dinner is to throw chicken thighs into the slow cooker, sprinkle them with garlic salt and pour over a jar of salsa. It cooks all day while we’re at work, and when we get home we can decide if we want tacos, tostadas, burrito bowls, Mexican style salads, etc.

    • Jill says...

      Us too! Except we use the Instant Pot. Pure magic!

  14. Lauren Wessler says...

    Jessica Seinfeld’s website ( has amazing and quick dinner recipes. I made her pasta with pine nuts and parsley last night, and it was so good I felt like I should open a restaurant.

    • Haha! This made me laugh so much.
      This is exactly how I feel when I really nail dinner.

  15. f says...

    my new super lazy dinner with lentils… 2 cups of lentils, bring to a boil and simmer for 25-30 minutes until tender. add in raos marinara and presto, dinner! i made it up one day when i wanted to try cooking with lentils but didn’t have any tomatoes or onions in the house. my 4-yr old loves it!

    • Sasha says...

      Yay for lentils!! Thanks for this, trying soon.

      We make lentil sloppy Joe’s, Korean lentils, taco lentils. And just plain lentils cooked and cold on salsa. Also sprouted, super easy. I love it all.

  16. Kim L says...

    I made the corn chowder last night for my husband and mother-in-law, and they both loved it! I used potatoes we had on hand (little golden guys) rather than russets, and added cayenne pepper in the last step with the salt and pepper, rather than just as a garnish, because it needed a little kick. Otherwise, followed the recipe completely and it was DELISH! Just ate a bowl of leftovers for lunch! Thanks for the ideas!

  17. Thank you for posting this! My fiancé is starting a new job soon and I have been brainstorming ways to help make his transition as smooth as possible, one of which would undoubtedly be for me to take over the cooking and meal prep which he usually covers. I love these ideas!

  18. Saz says...

    One of our absolute favourites is one I randomly made up maybe a year ago. We call it Pesto Rice. Basically, cook some rice, and while that’s cooking, add a can of tuna per person (for adults, maybe half a can for kids) to a TON of cheap and cheerful tomato pasta sauce. Cheap is best because you want it watery. Then stir in a big dollop of green pesto.
    (Don’t you just love a recipe that involves the word “dollop”?)

    When the rice is cooked, serve it into bowls and pour over the tomato/tuna/pesto mixture. It makes this AWESOME soupy meal that is just comfort-food goals. I suspect my family will be eating this most weeks over autumn/winter!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds so good! PS and yes i love recipes that call for a “dollop,” and also those that call for a “glug” of olive oil or whatever :)

    • Sophia says...

      This sounds SO similar to one of my favorite meals growing up! We served ours over pasta with a dollop of yogurt on top.

  19. Whitney says...

    Weeknight meals for the whole family are my jam. My 5 and 3 year old are crazy for the following.
    Hummus plates: a scoop of hummus paired with sliced veggies (red bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and carrots are favorites) and crackers or toast.
    Roast a sheet pan of veggies (cubed sweet potatoes, baby potatoes, carrots, zucchini, bell pepper) with a little oil for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Season with salt & pepper, serve with chicken sausage heated under broiler.
    Cheese tortellini or sweet potato gnocchi from refrigerated section, boiled and mixed with homemade pesto. I make a big batch of pesto and freeze in a bag. When I need it I break off a chunk of it and defrost by mixing it with cooking water from the pasta.

  20. Lana says...

    We do A LOT of soups but our fav is carrot/ginger. Black beans and rice, pineapple fried rice, migas, lots of roasted veggies with some kind of bean dip and toasted pita.

  21. jenny in Geneva says...

    we have been making your website’s fish tortillas/tacos w salmon and the cumin paprika spice mix for years and everyone loves it. we use soft corn tortillas, salmon w the spice mix for adults and completely without for kids, then make the cherry tomato salsa w spring onions, salt, and lime juice, then just crumbled feta and extra lime. healthy and quick and everyone is full but still feels light if you know what I mean. I love this recipe and it has become a family favorite. jenny

  22. Katy says...
  23. Rebecca says...

    I just found out my 9 month old has a peanut and egg allergy and I’m at a loss of what to feed him as he starts eating solid foods, while also catering to my older son’s 3 year old picky eating tendencies. It would be amazing if you did a post on families that deal with food allergies.

    Also, if anyone can suggest any blogs/websites with recipe ideas, I’d be so grateful.

    • Olivia Martin says...

      Check out the Oh She Glows blog! She also has kiddos and has many recipes in this vein.

    • Lindsey says...

      Check out Jessica Murnane’s – One Part Plant Cookbook. I can’t say there are baby recipes in it BUT they are super family friendly, vegan, gluten free, dairy free etc… and VERY quick to make. I truly love that cookbook!

  24. Joy says...

    thank you. will be making each and every one of these. in less time than an episode of Dora, haha. you’re speaking my language.

  25. Sasha says...

    A super easy black beans recipe. Saute a little garlic in olive oil in a skillet, add a can or two of drained black beans, salt to taste and some Frank’s red hot sauce. That’s it! If you want, you can add some water and mash it all, spread on burritos or on tostadas. Or serve as it on rice (can add a can of regular coconut milk add the cooking liquid in rice). Add cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, tortillas, scrambled eggs you are in for a feast!

    • Jana says...

      I make the salmon all the time. It’s super easy–and it gets my husband to eat salmon too!

    • I made that salmon on Sunday night! Cohoe is on sale here on the west coast. It turned out delicious and was just as good cold the next day.

  26. Julie says...

    I have 4 kids, my husband is an attorney who works long hours, and I’m gluten free, so…… every other week I roast 2 whole chickens on Monday night and put veggies with it. Then Tues through Thursday night I get creative with the leftover chicken- I can put in pasta for them and put mine in a salad. Or quesadillas for them and I make a rice bowl using the leftover chicken. Yes, it’s a lot of chicken but it makes things less stressful and feeds all my hungry mouths.

  27. I think you have to subscribe to NY Times Cooking to see the bacon and pea pasta recipe. I’ve tried several ways to view the recipe and they keep blocking it.

    • Sasha says...

      You get a few free articles a month, but when you run out, you are blocked.
      :( I always run out too.

    • Jenn says...

      I’m having the same problem!

    • Jessica S says...

      Here you go (copied and pasted from NYTimes):
      Sea salt
      10 slices smoked bacon or pancetta
      1 pound dried mini-shell or other small pasta
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      1 tablespoon butter
      Freshly ground black pepper
      2 cups frozen peas
      2 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy cream
      2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
      Juice of 1 lemon
      6 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
      Nutritional Information
      Bring a large pot of lightly salted to a boil. Meanwhile, cut sliced bacon crosswise into thin slivers, or slice pancetta into julienne. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to taste.
      While pasta is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter. Add bacon or pancetta and a sprinkling of pepper, and fry until golden and crisp. Immediately add frozen peas and stir for a minute or two. Add crème fraîche or heavy cream and chopped mint.
      Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta. Add pasta to the skillet and stir. Add lemon juice, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. The mixture should be thick; if desired, a splash of the pasta water may be added to the sauce to thin it slightly. Add Parmesan and stir to mix. If desired, serve with a green salad.

    • Lana says...

      Thank you Jessica!

  28. Emma says...

    When I started working as a line cook I realized how easy and flexible salads could be (my mother always made them seem like an ordeal growing up), so now a go-to dinner is _____(leftovers typically) and a salad.

    Often we have enough leftovers for what feels like not-quite-dinner, and adding a fresh salad is really nice. I usually just do a mustard vinaigrette on kale or balsamic vinaigrette with romaine and shaved hard cheese (pecorino or parmesan or asiago). With whatever veggies we have around. I generally avoid lettuce other than romaine since it has almost no nutritional content (and goes bad so quickly), but sometimes kids really like it so it’s worth including. (I was an au pair for two kids who would eat anything if it had lettuce and vinaigrette with it!)

    Two go-to meals are pasta (I throw in frozen chopped greens near the end of the pasta cooking, drain most of the water, and grate in cheese or bechamel for a creamy, veggie sauce) and couscous (usually with raisins or cranberries, chopped nuts, and dressed greens). A third is black beans and rice (preferably with some veggies or a salad). I’ve found all three of these meals to be pretty kid-friendly, if the kids have an appetite.

    Now I’m a cook and live with my partner and another chef, so our house has some really interesting leftovers sometimes… or just wacky ingredients… the only meat in the fridge right now is part of a beef heart!

  29. I love throwing together healthy bowl variations for dinner depending on what’s seasonal/available/already in my fridge. That and simple Instant Pot meats have been amazing this summer. I’m starting to make my own recipes based on wanting to get out of the kitchen as quickly as possible!

    • Jill says...

      Just got an Instant Pot – please share your go tos!

  30. Alex says...

    My mom always made a delicious dinner growing up that we called Giambotta. I don’t know if that’s an authentic Italian name for it, but we also used the nickname “Mixed Up” for it when we were little. I realize now that it was an early sheet pan dinner! But you need a really big pan! If you overcrowd the pan it will create too much steam and not get crispy. Basically you preheat the oven to 400, then you put bone-in chicken breasts (cut in half to even the cooking time) and thighs, Italian sausage, potatoes cut into large chunks, thickly sliced onions, and rough-chopped garlic onto the sheet pan. In more recent years we’ve changed it up a bit by using sweet potatoes and adding sliced red peppers. Toss everything with olive oil, salt and pepper, and into the oven it goes. When there are about 10 minutes left, toss in some thawed peas. It takes 45-60 minutes to cook but the prep and cleanup is so minimal that I would definitely consider it an easy weeknight meal.

  31. Sarah says...

    black bean enchiladas. fish in a parchment packet with lemon and olive oil, place on grill for 10 minutes. grilled shrimp with grilled tomatoes and noodles, chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon, olive oil and SP, Grill for 20 minutes, rotating every 5. I always make a big salad for the adults and do cut up veggies on a plate for the kids.

    I started a group on facebook called, My Kid Ate – you can only post recipes that you kid actually eats, It has been a great way to get new recipes.

    • Bridget Compagno says...

      Awesome! I requested to join. I desperately need some new ideas to try for a suddenly very picky eater.

    • Lana says...

      Looking that FB page up right now!!! Great idea!!

  32. Christina says...

    Combine #1 and 3 for easy fish tacos! I always keep frozen fish sticks on hand for this very reason. :)

  33. Lucy says...

    “Egg pizza” (Frittata) is a go to for us, as is one-pot pasta, both easy to riff on recipes from Cook’s Illustrated (both their 30-minute meals and their Skillet Recipes cookbooks have variations of those ones). Real Simple had a ravioli (or tortellini) recipe with sauteed apples and walnuts, so I use that sometimes (don’t follow a recipe, but just top cooked filled pasta with quick-sauteed apple slices and walnuts). A programmable slow-cooker is a life-saver, too. And roasted cauliflower and broccoli are always popular sides.

  34. Jessie says...

    Good Housekeeping’s “Fun Food Fast” has great recipes, we’ve been making their shrimp & rice dish weekly. In the summer, we grill almost every night. Everyone is happy- my husband gets to be outside after being in his office 8+ hours/day, our son keeps him company & plays outside while dinner is grilling & I get some blessed quiet time to myself :). In cooler months, I rely on the crockpot & soups/stews.
    We also have designated dinners for certain nights of the week, ex. Monday is fish night (usually salmon), Tuesday is some sort of pasta, Wednesday is the shrimp & rice dish, etc. It helps keep my sanity so I’m not rushing around trying to throw something together last minute, & it helps streamline grocery shopping. Friday nights are always pizza nights & weekend dinners are more relaxed.

  35. Rosie says...

    It’s crazy hot here (109 yesterday) so right now we are eating alot of big salads. Our daughter, who is 9, doesn’t mind them all chopped up together but when she was younger, I just decomposed the salad on her plate. A veggie frittata is another staple as are BLTs this time of year. When it gets colder, we are big fans of soups once/week. I’m all about meal planning. I right everything down or I would be lost once 5pm rolls around.

    • Kate says...

      Seriously. I’m trying to figure out why pies and galettes are considered summer staples (I know, I know, the fruit) when I have to heat my oven to +400 to make one! I don’t want to turn on my oven or even stand over a pot of boiling water!

  36. Alex says...

    Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and steamed broccoli or broccolini. Literally just boiling water. ??????

  37. Laura C. says...

    Thanks for the lovely ideas! My eldest girl, 6, is very choosy about her food. She doesn’t like cheese, ham, most of veggies… And I couldn’t cook those plates because I know she wouldn’t eat. Anyway I’ll try!

  38. I LIVE for easy meals with our kids! Two of my go-to’s are roasted veggie mac n cheese (roast onions, bell peppers and broccoli and add to boxed mac n cheese!) and chickpea and cauliflower curry! I steam a head of cauliflower cut into flourettes, add a jar of prepared curry simmer sauce and simmer with cauliflower for 15, add chickpeas and eat! Voila, hits with both the kids!


  39. These look so good! So glad I stumbled upon your blog! I am always looking for new recipes! I love casseroles for family dinners. especially enchilada casseroles they’re so easy to make and make great leftovers. xx

  40. Char says...

    A few of our favorites that are In heavy rotation:
    Chicken fajitas from smitten kitchen
    I’ve used the spice on chicken, beef, and in ground beef for tacos, it’s so good! We also like to add zucchini into the mix for more veggies!
    One pot beef stroganoff using ground beef, with a nice salad or green beans on the side:
    We often make what we call “grill pasta”, where we’ll grill up chicken, steak, or sausages along with some veggies (usually peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onion, and mushroom). Meanwhile, we cook some pasta and make aglio e olio for the sauce. Once everything is cooked, we chop up everything from the grill, and mix it into the pasta with the garlic chili oil. It’s one of the few meals we have that actually takes longer to eat than to cook!

  41. Sara says...

    Our meal when we don’t want to think & the kids are hungry is tostadas. Refried beans, avocado, sometimes slaw or mushrooms or caramelized onions on top. They can be customized a million ways and the kids eat them up!

  42. That chicken meatball sub looks so delicious. I definitely need to give it a try. Along with so many of the other delicious looking recipes!

  43. These look delicious, always happy to see some new simple recipe ideas! We are veggie and with four young children – each with very different tastes – I have to put some serious efforts in to make sure they all eat a balanced diet!

    Things that have helped us are – thinking of their nutrition as spread out over a day/week rather than each meal – so if they don’t eat all the food groups at one meal I try not to worry as I know I’ll focus on making sure they get something they like from that food group at the next meal. We eat a lot of black bean quesadillas / burrito bowls! And broccoli quiche is a big favourite in this house.

    Also, I often make this favourite side dish if I am trying out a new recipe – so even if they reject the new flavours or aren’t totally convinced then they still have something familiar on their plate (and stops me having to pour a bowl of cereal / make a cheese sandwich after the meal is over). The recipe for their favourite, totally unsophisticated but absolute work-horse of a side dish is here –

    • Jessica says...

      I had not, and now I can’t stop scrolling and reading…loving this site…thank you for sharing!

  44. Jenny says...

    Thanks for all the meal suggestions. Here are my 2 go to recipes. Chicken tenders and chicken teriyaki. Both excellent. They each require a few special ingredients, but once you have them these ingredients save well and are always on hand to make each recipe again and again as I do. Hope you enjoy :-)

    • lulu says...

      Hi Jenny,
      I just LOVE the recipetineats website too! There are so many recipes on that site that are quick, work well and are great for kids. Last night I made the Chicken Shawarma and my three kids (8, 7 and 5), not only finished it, but declared it “delicious and asked if I could cook it again ( to make it more kid -friendly, I substituted the cayenne paper for sweet paprika to lessen the heat.) The Potato and Chick pea curry is another family favourite.
      Bon Apetit everyone.

      Cheers from Lulu.

  45. Hannah says...

    Smitten Kitchen’s one sheet pan chicken tikka masala is good and fast:

    I like it because all the other easy meals we make are either Mexican inspired (burrito bowls, quesadillas) or Italian inspired (pizza and salad, pasta and salad) so this is a nice change of flavor.

    This lentil, sausage, and kale soup is also surprisingly easy. I just do 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water (instead of 4 cups water) to up the flavor, and jam in a bunch more kale. It is seriously the most flavorful soup of all time, and I make it once a week in colder months.

  46. Deb says...

    Steamed veggies and tofu over rice with peanut sauce.
    Broccoli, tofu over diva noodles with tahini dressing or (Annie’s goddess salad dressing)
    Leftover rice fries with cut up ham, scrambled egg and broccoli.
    Pan fried shrimp with polenta.
    Pan fried chicken breast cut paper thin with lemon juice and green beans.

    • Deb says...

      Soba noodles not diva noodles!

    • Char says...

      I was like “Oooooo! What are Diva noodles?!” ?

  47. I made sausage stroganoff ( ) for dinner last night and it was so good plus we had leftovers for lunch today as well. I do boil the sausages first then use that water in place of the beef stock (I did add a teaspoon of powdered stock as well). I also add frozen peas and slice carrot to increase the vegies. I’ve served it with mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes chopped into cubes (I was feeling super lazy and didn’t want to peel and mash them) and pasta. Goes down a hit every time I make it and can be on the table within 30 minutes.
    Another quick dinner is Caramel Chicken ( ) which is made in minutes and you can add broccoli and carrot to increase the vegie intake.
    I also think its great to have a cooked chicken on hand as you turn that into so many meals. Combine shredded chicken with jarred salsa and some frozen corn and you have an easy topping for nachos or filling for quesadillas. Add it to store bought salads to increase the protein and make it a more rounded meal. It’s just great staple to have on hand and makes weeknight meals a breeze when you don’t want to think.

    • Anne says...

      And if you are as lazy as I am, Costco sells packaged chicken that they’ve picked off the extra rotisserie chickens. Usually found in a corner by the premade sandwiches. Sometimes you have to ask for it.

  48. Korean beef! Like sloppy joe, but with Korean flavors. I sometimes use part or all lentils with the ground beef. Then I serve it with rice and whatever fresh veggies – lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, whatever, and cilantro if I have it. (recipe:

    Also, we’re really liking Smitten Kitchen’s summer fried rice (recipe:

    And don’t forget pasta and pesto! I make and freeze pesto in ice cube trays so I have cubes of pesto to use all winter long. I just put a cube in peoples’ pasta bowls, pour hot pasta over it, and mix well. We like a green veg on the side like steamed or roasted broccoli.

  49. Peale says...

    Love these ideas, thank you! My hub and I are in the midst of moving, so we’ve been relying heavily on Trader Joe’s frozen dinners and “smorgasbords” with cheese/crackers/hummus/veggies. If anyone is looking for more “sheetpan suppers” here is a great cookbook written by a friend of mine!

    • Just got this cookbook from the library!! I made sheetpan chicken this past spring and was bowled over by the ease and flavors. And now that the weather’s getting cooler, I’m willing to crank up the oven again.

  50. These all look amazing.
    Recently my husband have been making english muffin pizzas (we literally make them 3+ times a week!). Neither one of us cook often, but they are so delicious we get excited for them and pair with a simple salad.
    It’s funny to me that I am writing a “recipe” but this is what we do:
    Heat over to 400 degrees, cut 4 english muffins (room temp) and put them on a cookie sheet. If they’re frozen I will put them in the toaster. Put a nice spoonful of Rao’s on each with chopped garlic and basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Put in the over for 20-25 mins. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan and red pepper flakes.
    Then make a big salad with arugula, cherry tomatoes, onion and more parmesan. The only dressing I use is Kens Italian (the old school one with no herbs or anything in it).
    Anyway, this silly sounding meal is a dinner that we LOVE. I’m sure those with kids would love it too :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds so good!!! those are my favorite type of meals — super simple things with your favorite ingredients. thanks for sharing, caitlin!

    • Maureen says...

      A fave english muffin recipe: cut in half and put tomato slice and top with crab meat (or fake crab meat if you are not particular, it is cheaper) mixed with a little mayo, your fave spicy cheese (e.g., jalapeno cheddar) shredded- broil until crab cheese mixture starts to brown.

  51. Sara says...

    My easy, go-to meals that take just a few minutes to prep:
    Breakfast for dinner! Eggs, French toast, fruit, chicken sausage, etc. My 3 year old loves this :)
    Ravioli w/pesto or marinara
    Shrimp – sautéed in a pan w/lemon pepper or other seasoning (so quick!) with pasta/rice + veggies or salad
    Cook extra meat/veggies on the grill during the weekend. It’s minimal extra work, but the leftovers heat up so well! Keep easy sides on hand to round out the meal (raw veggies + dip, fruit, corn on the cob, pasta salad)
    And…frozen pizza :) Just keeping it real

  52. Emily says...

    My go-to dinner is quesadilla’s and while I am doing them the kids make the guacamole from scratch:)
    Another favorite shortcut is to buy the trader joe’s frozen naan and use as a flatbread pizza. Stick under the broiler for 2 minutes to defrost then put on toppings and stick back under the broiler for a few more minutes, et voila! I like to get the garlic naan and put fresh campari tomatoes and mozzarella on top:)
    One of the easiest recipes I’ve ever come across on your blog is the Avgolemono from Dinner a Love Story, I put the chicken on the side for my kids and add some extra veggies for me since I don’t eat meat. It’s great for fall heading right into winter….

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg that soup is SO GOOD.

    • Sophie says...

      We make Naan pizza all the time. Spread some pre-made-from-the-dairy-section pesto on the naan, then grated Asiago cheese, roasted red peppers, chopped rotisserie chicken with crumbled Feta on top. You can add some chopped fresh basil too. Bake in the oven at 400 for 10-15 min. Delish!

  53. We have a giant stack of cooking magazines that we have bookmarked with favourites. I love the Dinner Tonight section in Bon Appétit or the old Gourmet magazine’s Fast and Easy columns. We just look for the month we’re in now and go from there. This week we tried Julia Turshen’s Turkey Ricotta Meatballs from her Small Victories cookbook, and loved it. It’s something the baby, the 11 year old, and us adults could get into. With spaghetti and buttered and boiled yellow wax beans it’s a pretty delicious dinner! With leftovers after eating it for two nights! I would up the seasonings/parmesan/sauce next time.
    My older son loves the Sloppy Joes from Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. They’re made with her Barbecued Beef Mince, and can be eaten on soft potato or brioche buns or with tortilla chips and melted cheese.
    We also do a really simple and fast vegetarian chilli that everyone loves. It’s Sybil Kapoor’s recipe for Chilli Beans With Avocado from her book Citrus and Spice.
    If it’s a weekend and we want to have a feast, we’ll make kebabs (lamb kofta, beef rosewater, or my mom’s chicken). We have them with grilled naan bread and a chopped Turkish salad.
    Thanks so much for the quick recipe roundup above, can’t wait to try some of these!

  54. broccoli pizza looks SO good.

  55. patricia blaettler says...

    Chicken fajitas…red/yellow peppers and slivered onions caramelized, boneless skinless chicken strips cooked and Rose’s lime juice thrown in at the end for a great sizzle in the pan. Great flavor!

  56. Lilly says...

    My favourite is doing a big batch of mapo tofu (just me & my partner for now, but it’s excellent for lunches the next day and it’s a super fast meal.) It’s about 15-20 minutes to make in the pan and goes fast, so getting all the chopping/tofu prep done and putting on the rice first is key. Plus it’s super delicious, and cheap –
    I usually add kale/peas/a bit of whatever veggies (mushrooms or carrots work well) I have to that version to bulk it up, and the spicing’s pretty flexible. IE I rarely keep Sichuan pepper (coriander will do) or cornstarch around, and I’ve found most chili paste + savoury sauce will work for the doubanjiang & black bean paste – IE Sriracha or sambal oelek and a hefty dose of something savoury (hoisin, usually, or oyster sauce – I’ve used barbecue sauce in a pinch!)
    I’ve also done it with pork instead of beef, and you can make the tofu as crumbly or as big as you’d like. Mine’s probably the most flexible version – my dad and grandma make totally different versions of it!

  57. Carrie says...

    I love to buy a jar of Patak’s tikka masala, mix it with a can of garbanzo beans and whatever leftover, cooked veggies I have. I make ahead rice in the rice cooker, so it’s very easy to throw together. You can mix in other things like kefir and turmeric as well!

  58. Katie says...

    I can not say enough good things about the site Once Upon a Chef, everything is so good! I use her recipes all the time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for the rec!!!

  59. Hilary says...

    These look delicious! My biggest overall advice is freeze as many leftovers as possible- soups, refried beans, veggie burgers, chicken, cornbread, muffins, pancakes etc. are all portioned out and frozen. I try to do a crockpot meal every Sunday to fill up the freezer and then freeze any extra dinner leftovers. Tonight we had a little leftover brown rice so I popped it in a ziploc and can use it to bulk up any meals in the future.

    Easy dinners that we love include any kind of Mexican- we always have refried beans in the freezer, just toss in a tortilla or on top of rice or quinoa, add whatever veggies, cheese, salsa, etc. that you can find.

    Avocado toast is another easy one, or pesto pasta (also always frozen in batches). Those Trader Joes hacks are also lifesavers!

  60. Kellyn says...

    Thankful that most of the recipes are vegetarian!

  61. Angela says...

    In the fall, we do a lot of soups with salads and/or baguette. My dad is a soup pro and swears that soup is one food that gets better the longer it cooks, so I might start a soup in the morning, which helps when I’ve run out of steam at dinner time.

    Some soups we do a lot of are: beef barley soup with mushrooms, traditional chicken and noodle soup (loaded with root veggies), Italian wedding soup, and a soup my family calls ditallini soup because of the pasta (includes, shredded chicken, Italian sausage, diced tomatoes, and herbs).

  62. Emma says...

    I love making banana “milk shakes” with peanut butter, butter (because as my husband says, “The butter makes a difference!”) toast for those nights when there is just not enough time and definitely no energy!

    Three ripe and frozen bananas
    A gob of peanut butter
    And just enough milk (use evaporated milk to step it up a notch) to blend the bananas and make you a little worried that this will be the time your blender’s motor goes out!
    Optional: Dash of vanilla extract and four heaping spoonfuls of dry milk for a malty taste.

    • I love the idea of a peanut butter and banana milkshake for a quick dinner :)

    • Maggie says...

      Yum! We make this but add cinnamon, too– it adds a dimension I wouldn’t have expected! Sometimes put it in an ice cream cone for my son if I can’t convince him to eat a typical dinner— protein, fruit… it works!

    • Emily says...

      I love butter and pb on toast. It DOES make a difference. :)

  63. Claire says...

    When my son was small I kept dinner as simple and easy as possible. We ate a lot of black bean, cheese, and avocado tacos. Also, breakfast for dinner was a great option- easy, fast and delicious, with scrambled eggs, bacon, and/or sometimes pancakes.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! alex made smash burgers for the first time last weekend and we were going nuts for them. so, so good!!!

  64. Sandra says...

    Ooh! Thank you for all of the suggestions! My husband and son are both really picky and I’m a vegetarian so I’m always looking for something fast/easy to make since we’re sometimes making a couple of different things around here at dinnertime.

    My quick favorites for my son have been:
    1. Banza brand chickpea mac and cheese (in a box like Kraft, but is made from chickpeas and has more protein). Then we add peas before serving.
    2. Tortellini, black beans, cherry tomatoes. Cook the tortellini (which can be kept in the fridge or freezer), then add black beans, cherry tomatoes (halved) and butter. Top with fresh parmesan. Super simple, and easy to have on hand. My son is in a phase where he won’t eat this anymore, but we had a nice long run with it.

  65. Sasha says...

    These are amazing recipes!! Can’t wait to try the corn soup and sweet potato fajitas especially. Thank you for the inspiration.

    On the days both my husband and I work, he makes dinner. We have:

    pesto pasta with a crispy fried egg + panko crispies

    refried bean and egg burritos, with roasted potatoes

    grilled zucchini, yellow squash and garden burgers

    Coconut rice, Korean tofu and scallion pancakes

    Loaded baked potatoes

    All very fast, easy and basic ingredients and don’t freak my husband out too much.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these all sound SO good!!!

    • Whitney says...

      The potato salad with lentils sounds awesome and filling but not heavy.

  66. Kelcey says...

    I’m big into a Japanese-ish dish my Mom’s neighbor taught her how to cook when she was young, that was a staple in my house growing up. Mom calls it Three Colored Rice, and it’s basically steamed calrose rice, scrambled egg, steamed peas, and ground turkey (or beef) in a combination of soy sauce, dry sherry, broth, and a little sugar. I’ve made it for vegetarian friends by substituting mushrooms for the meat, and it’s equally delicious. It’s on the table in the time it takes the rice to cook, and the best comfort food!

    • Sasha says...

      Yum!! Trying this :)

  67. justine says...

    We make the smitten kitchen broccoli pizza on the reg, using the no-kneed Jim Lahey dough recipe (which we also found on Deb’s blog) and it is fantastic.

  68. Lindsay says...

    These look great!! I’ll be adding a few of these to our dinner rotation!

    Lately when I don’t feel like cooking, we’ve been making BLTA sandwiches with fresh tomatoes from our garden and turkey bacon. The addition of avocado takes them over the top. We tend to add more veggies than bacon so they’re quite filling and not too bad for you. Add a side salad, and voila! Dinner in 10 minutes!

    • Jackie says...

      Yum- we do these, too, but BLTAB / addition of fresh basil! :)

  69. Love the idea of sweet potato fajitas! Must add as an option for the taco night/ burrito bowl routine.

  70. These looks so easy! The sweet potato wraps seem like a really good option. My past few days have been busy and I haven’t spent any time thinking of dinner, so I find myself at 8pm rushing to figure it out. Reminds me that we don’t have to have something elaborate every night.

  71. Fall does seem like a good time to calibrate dinner ideas. I’m looking forward to reading others responses!
    My go-to is always chicken breasts in the crockpot. I put them on in the morning on the low setting and by the time I am ready for dinner, I have shredded chicken for whatever salad, sandwich, dinner etc I am pulling together. I rotate between a jar of green salsa (taco salads with crisp romaine, radishes, cilantro, tomato and crumbled cotija cheese), 1/2 bottle of bbq sauce (bbq chicken salads with greens, sautéed corn and quick pickled veggies), or cook simply with some chicken stock and black pepper to be layered with whatever works. I make extra for leftovers which are handy when folks have different meal times. Bonus points if I put it on an open faced sandwich and say we’re having “tartines” for dinner :)

  72. Colleen says...

    I love this post! With one kindergartener and one preschooler, getting food on the table is so difficult! Not to mention getting them to eat it…

    Would you guys consider doing a post on easy/healthy breakfasts–especially things to make or assemble the night before? I get really stuck on what to serve in the morning.

    Thanks for the great content, as usual!

    • Erin says...

      Breakfast burritos wrapped in foil just throw in the oven (scrambled egg, shredded cheese, beans or bacon or sausage and avocado) serve with hot sauce, ketchup or salsa (packet if on the go). Also bananas, nutella and optional nut butter sprinkled with cinnamon sugar is awesome in a rolled up tortilla. And smoothies (prepped in ziplock bags) just dump in the blender and add liquid of choice I also usually add a scoop of peanut butter or almond butter. Also I love freezing pancakes and bacon or sausage too. Again easy to heat.

  73. Amanda G says...

    Sheet pan dinners are the best! I love to mix and match proteins and vegetables, add some spices and an oil drizzle, and throw it all in the oven at 375 or 400. My favorites are pork chops with a honey-Dijon glaze/Brussels sprouts/sweet potatoes/sliced apples, and chicken/green beans/potatoes/zucchini with a Cajun rub. I try to vary the size of the veggie cut or butterfly the meat, if necessary, to help everything bake at the same pace, but I’m also not averse to crispy veggies :)

    We also love to make a crockpot of basic chicken and vegetable curry, as well as a big pot of rice, and then have toppings on hand so everyone can customize their own! Favorites are cashews or peanuts, shredded coconut, golden raisins, shredded carrot, cilantro, pineapple, and cubed green apple. Bonus: the house smells absolutely amazing when you get home!

    • Amy says...

      That curry sounds so good! Do you have a favorite recipe?

  74. Meredith says...

    we love lentil tacos. I buy the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s, mix in taco seasoning, stuff shells and bake with cheese for a few minutes. Add on tomatoes and whatever cool toppings you want. So easy and taste even better than beef tacos to me now.