Finding a quick-and-easy weekday dinner that everyone will love can seem like a challenge. However, with these ideas for easy dinner recipes, you’ll find a crowd-pleaser that you can make in no time at all!Jump to Recipe
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How to Become the Expert of Easy Dinners
Keep shelf-stable staples in your house– Certain ingredients can be a lifesaver when you’re desperate for something tasty but quick. In the pantry, keep boxes of penne pasta and Bisquick. Some versatile canned goods include chickpeas, diced tomatoes, green chiles, tomato sauce, black beans, tuna, corn, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, mixed veggies, or anything you can easily add to a recipe for extra flavor or protein.
Find go-to recipes that you can practice and perfect– It’s always fun to try something new, and it’s helpful to expose kids to a wide variety of flavors. However, having a couple of go-to recipes you can make when you can’t think anymore can be a lifesaver. We all have those days when you just can’t come up with anything new.
Get the kids involved if you can– Letting someone else into the kitchen is a big deal, especially when someone else needs supervision around stoves, knives, and ovens. However, if you can safely get the kids involved, with enough practice, they’ll be able to have more independence, and the pressure’s off! Start them off with simple tasks like tearing the lettuce, shucking the corn, setting the table, or mixing things up. Pretty soon, you’ll have a budding sous chef who can help make an easy dinner even more manageable.
Healthy and Easy Family Dinner Ideas
Hold on, don’t pull through the drive-through yet! You can sit around the dining table and enjoy a flavorful, homemade meal without all the hassle. Check out these simple dinner recipes with fantastic flavors without too much effort on busy weeknights or even the weekend when you want to kick back and relax. Whether it’s with beef, chicken these healthy, easy dinner options may even tempt your most stubborn chicken nugget enthusiast.
1. Rainbow Chicken Salad– When you have a lot of different colors in your salad, it not only provides plenty of antioxidants and nutrients but makes the food more visually appealing and flavorful! Have your kids help you make the salad! Use red bell peppers, shredded carrots, yellow bell peppers, green cabbage, cilantro, avocado, green onion, limes, and purple cabbage. Top with chopped chicken breast, crunchy noodles, peanuts, and a Thai-peanut dressing.
2. Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies– This good-for-you meal is one of our go-to healthy dinner ideas. When you use seasonal veggies, you can keep it budget-friendly, too! Try adding sweet potatoes, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, and sweet potatoes to your sheet pan if you’re having trouble deciding. Sausage and veggies also make a great sheet pan dinner alternative. Use what you have!
3. Healthy White Chicken Chili– This is a 30-minute meal with chicken breast, white beans, corn, cumin, and yogurt. You can make it on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or the Instant Pot! A true crowd-pleaser!
4. Nacho Chicken Casserole– The perfect blend of comfort foods! Try this recipe for a delicious dinner.
Nacho Chicken Casserole
- 4 cups cubed chicken
- 1 lb velveeta cubed
- 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup undiluted
- 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chiles undrained
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 bag (14-1/2 ounces) nacho cheese tortilla chips
- Optional: Sliced jalapeno pepper, diced tomato, or avocado.
Nacho Chicken Casserole
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, velveeta, cream of chicken soup, can of tomatoes and chiles, onion, garlic salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Crush chips; set aside 1 cup for topping. Add remaining chips to chicken mixture.
- Spoon into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with reserved chips.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350° until cheese is melted and edges are bubbly, approximatley 30 minutes.
What Can I Make for Dinner Tonight That’s Easy?
It’s getting late. The kids are already hungry. What can you pull together with minimal effort? These simple dinner recipes for beginners may be the perfect solution.
5. Impossible Quiche– Despite the name, this is so easy! Grab a pre-made crust (or Bisquick in a pinch), eggs, cheese, that leftover ham, bacon, or sausage in the fridge, and whatever veggies you like. Toss it all together to make this tasty breakfast-for-dinner one-pan meal.
6. French Bread Pizza– Sometimes, waiting on the prepackaged pizza dough to cook can seem like forever. With french bread or take-and-bake baguettes, you can easily have kids top their own “pizza.” Pop them in the oven at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes. To avoid soggy bread, toast them for 5 minutes before adding toppings.
7. Fire & Stone-baked Pizza – If you don’t want to sacrifice flavor or time, getting an Ooni Pizza Oven might be just what you need! This portable pizza oven takes only 20 minutes to heat up, and your pizza will be cooked and ready to serve in just 60 seconds. The kids will love customizing the pizza with their own toppings and watching it cook!
8. Buffalo Chicken Tacos– If your kids like wings, make these buffalo chicken tacos smothered in Frank’s red hot sauce. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup of hot sauce, 1 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp of onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of paprika, salt, and pepper (to taste). Add 3 cups of shredded chicken and toss to combine. Using tongs, fill the taco shells with the chicken. Top the tacos with shredded lettuce, carrots, cheese, and a drizzle of ranch or homemade healthy blue cheese Greek yogurt sauce.
9. Simple Taco Soup– All this takes is 2 pounds of ground beef, one envelope of taco seasoning, 1 envelope of ranch dressing mix, and 1 can each of mild chili beans, corn, pinto beans, stewed tomatoes, diced green tomato with green chiles, and chopped green chiles. You can make a taco soup with all the Mexican flavor minus the inevitable mess that comes with kids who scarf down tacos.
10. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas– Your dinner will be ready for you when you get home! Load up your tortillas with all your favorite toppings, and enjoy your minimal-effort meal! This is for the family who’s not afraid of some spice!
Pour half a can of tomatoes and green chiles into the bottom of a slow cooker and spread into an even layer. Dice three bell peppers and chop one yellow onion. Add half of the peppers and onions to the slow cooker, then sprinkle with 4 cloves of minced garlic. Top with 2 lbs of chicken breasts.
In a bowl, whisk together 2-1/2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 3/4 tsp ground coriander, salt, and pepper. Evenly sprinkle half of the seasoning over chicken breasts, then flip chicken and sprinkle in the rest. Top with the remaining half of the tomatoes and chiles, then layer in remaining peppers and onions. Cover and cook on HIGH heat for about 2 – 3 hours or low heat 4 – 6 hours, until chicken has cooked through and veggies are tender. Remove chicken and shred. Scoop out 1 cup of the broth in the slow cooker and discard.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp lime juice and 1 Tbsp honey and add to slow cooker along with chicken and season with additional salt to taste if desired. Serve on warmed tortillas!
11. Tex-Mex Beef Barbecue– This is a meal you can leave in the crock-pot with plenty of seasoning, and it’s ready to go when you get home! Just pop your BBQ onto a sesame bun and pair it with sides dishes like oven-baked potatoes or cornbread. Now you’ve got a meal full of comfort food that everyone will love.
12. Fiesta Scrambled Eggs– Breakfast for dinner, anyone? Tex-Mex flavors like fire-roasted tomatoes and peppers turn regular scrambled eggs into a hearty dish that will make you never want to go back to plain eggs. Serve with sausage, or better yet, turn it into a fiesta breakfast casserole with all the sides baked into one dish.
Easy Dinner Ideas With Chicken
Chicken recipes are great for when you need something with plenty of protein that the kiddos will like. Serve your chicken recipes with sides like quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, or mashed potatoes.
13. Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry– This low-carb, veggie-packed option is the perfect meal idea for someone who wants to skip the extra grains and starches! And best of all? It’s a one-skillet meal. If you need a little extra substance, feel free to serve on a bed of quinoa, brown rice, or noodles.
14. Chicken Thighs in a Balsamic Glaze– Think restaurant-quality food takes a lot of time and effort? Think again! Juicy, roasted chicken thighs perfectly pair with a sweet and sharp balsamic glaze. It’s a fantastic weeknight dinner that will have everyone asking for more.
15. Lemon Garlic Chicken– When you’re making roast chicken, it’s the added flavors that really have the chance to shine. That’s why lemon garlic chicken makes the perfect healthy meal. Pair it with rice or steamed veggies (our go-to is green beans with walnuts). If you’re feeling a vibe for seafood, try lemon garlic shrimp instead (which, on a skewer, make a great appetizer).
16. Chicken Pot Pie– With all this chicken and creamy goodness, your kids won’t even notice they’re eating vegetables! AND you only need six ingredients: condensed cream of chicken soup, a package of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 cup of chicken, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, and 1 cup of all-purpose baking mix. How much simpler can it get?
17. Baked Ranch and Bacon Chicken– If your kids dip everything in ranch, then this is the way to go. Again, the recipe is super simple with only 5 ingredients: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ranch dressing, sour cream, parmesan cheese, and bacon crumbles. Don’t forget to garnish with some fresh parsley!
Easy Dinner Ideas With Beef
18. Shepherd’s Pie– Why cook 3 dishes separately when they all taste so good together? This comfort food classic is traditionally from Ireland but is beloved in the United States for its hearty flavors and savory meat-and-potatoes goodness.
19. Stuffed Peppers– Stuff your peppers (I like Poblano), Italian turkey sausage (cooked), lean ground beef (cooked), Spanish rice (cooked), enchilada sauce, Mexican cheese, and fresh cilantro, then heat them in the oven! Stuffed peppers are great because you can add or remove ingredients according to your family’s preferences.
20. Chili– Nothing says comfort food like a pot of hot chili, cornbread, and a family with whom to share it all. While most recipes use ground beef, my mom always made it with a chuck roast.
21. Creamy Beef and Shells– Move over, Hamburger Helper. This one-skillet dish has everything you could want: pasta, beef, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, cheese, and cream. Everyone will want another helping of this Italian comfort food.
22. Chicken-and-Broccoli Casserole– Have some leftover rotisserie chicken? Or maybe that chicken breast in the freezer is finally going to see the light of day. Either way, this cheesy chicken broccoli rice casserole includes condensed chicken soup, flavorful rice cooked in chicken broth, and a crunchy Ritz topping. Yum!
23. Easy Fried Rice– If you have leftover pork chops, shrimp, chicken, or steak, why not reuse them in a whole new dish? With a bit of oil, chopped vegetables, cooked rice, meat, and soy sauce, you can make a better-than-takeout meal that will have everyone on board for seconds.
24. Beef and Broccoli– Remember that London broil from two nights ago? It’s about to get a whole new look. This quick stir fry with homemade ginger-soy sauce and broccoli is a perfect meal to make with leftovers from London broil, flank steak, skirt steak, or other firm cut of beef.
What Are Some Kid-friendly Easy Dinner Recipes?
Sometimes the most difficult people to please at your dinner table will be your children. Who made them food critics, anyway? Luckily, with these options, you’ll have some simple dinner recipes that may become your kids’ new favorite food.
25. Sloppy Joe Biscuit Cups– When I was a kid, my mom made savory food bite-sized with a muffin tin. The food suddenly became adorable and more appetizing. I’m not sure if this logic works on other children, but it’s worth a shot. These sloppy joes inside biscuit cups instead of buns are perfect for changing things up from your regular sloppy joes.
26. Make-Your-Own Quesadillas– A quesadilla is usually a fail-proof bet for kiddos, especially picky eaters. Quesadillas are as easy and family-friendly as it gets. You can add your own topping options like black beans, cheese, chicken, guac, or salsa. That way, this simple dinner recipe will cater to all preferences! It even works well as a side dish with salad.
27. One-Pot Cheeseburger Pasta– Put away the hamburger helper because this one-pot meal requires no extra assistance. This all-in-one dish combines the best of both worlds with ground beef, pasta, and lots of cheese. It may even become the kiddos’ new favorite food.
28. Ham and Cheese Pockets– Your child may be familiar with the classic Hot Pockets. But once they try these easy-to-eat ham and cheese pockets, they’ll never go back! By using canned dough, you’ll have a delicious meal in no time!
Easy Dinner Recipes With Pasta
29. Pesto Chicken Tortellini– Pesto is one of those things you could smother anything in, and it suddenly feels gourmet. Prepare a package of three cheese tortellini according to the package directions, then mix with a jar of pesto, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and shredded rotisserie chicken, and you’ve got a weeknight meal that’s perfect for the family on the go. This is great for meal planning, too.
30. One-pot Chicken Parmesan Pasta– This main dish seems too good to be true. If you love chicken parmesan but don’t love all the extra dishes that come with it–this may be the perfect solution. The pasta cooks in the pot with the sauce and chicken breast, maximizing the flavor. And the total time until dinner? 30 minutes. Serve it with garlic bread, and this easy dinner will be a new fail-proof fan favorite.
31. One-skillet Chicken Alfredo Pasta– This chicken and pasta dish with healthy creamy garlic sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and chicken will get everyone’s approval. It’s the perfect 30-minute, one-pot dish!
Sheet Pan Dinner Ideas
Everyone should have a go-to sheet pan recipe that makes weeknight dinners less of a hassle. Simple ingredients for a complete meal! Here are some of our favorites:
19. Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs and Brussels Sprouts
Start by marinating the chicken: put 2lbs of chicken thighs into a large bowl. Then add 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, and 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard. Toss the chicken so that you coat it evenly, then cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Place 10 oz of trimmed and halved brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, followed by sliced red onion (in wedges) and 6 peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss so that everything is well coated. Place the marinated chicken thighs skin side up on the sheet pan. Bake uncovered at 400°F (200°C) for 30-35 minutes. Then crisp the skin up and brown it under the broiler for a few minutes.
20. Parmesan Baked Crispy Chicken Milanese and Veggies
When you’re looking for quick dinner ideas, this family-friendly meal should be top of your list.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking oil spray, then set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 2 Tbsps lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/2 Tbsp fresh parsley, salt, and pepper.
Dip 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts into egg mixture, cover, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour if you can. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Dredge the egg-coated chicken in the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture, lightly pressing to coat evenly.
Place chicken onto the baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking oil spray. Arrange 8-10 (1 lb) baby potatoes (quartered) around the chicken in a single layer. Mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tsp garlic, and salt to taste, and pour half of the butter mixture over the potatoes. Toss to coat, then bake for 15 minutes.
Remove tray from the oven and flip each piece of chicken. Move the potatoes to one side and place 1 lb of green beans (cut into thirds) around the chicken on the other side of the baking sheet. Pour over the remaining garlic butter and return to the oven to broil (or grill) on medium-high heat for a further 10 minutes, or until chicken is golden and crisp and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley (optional), and serve immediately. Serve with your favorite side, like brown rice.
21. Sheet-Pan Kung Pao Chicken
Another day we avoid eating takeout is a win in my book. The takeout-inspired food you make at home is cheaper, tastes better, and can be modified for all those picky eaters out there!.
To begin, preheat the broiler to the highest setting. Spray a large baking sheet with avocado oil spray and set it aside.
Toss the chicken thighs with sesame oil, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp coconut flour, and 3 Tbsps of coconut aminos. Put the chicken thighs on the prepared sheet pan in a single layer. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook the chicken for 5 minutes, flipping halfway through.
In the meantime, make the savory sauce by adding ½ teaspoon of rice vinegar along with 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos, 2 Tbsp harissa sauce, 2 Tbsp avocado oil, and 2 minced Thai chilis to a small bowl. Stir the sauce and set it aside.
Remove the chicken from the oven, pour half of the sauce over the chicken pieces, and toss to coat. Then add 1 head of broccoli (cut into florets), 2 bell peppers (cubed), and 1/4 cup of macadamia nuts to the pan along with the rest of the sauce. Toss the chicken and vegetables together to coat well with the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Turn the oven to bake at 425˚F.
Return the sheet pan to the oven and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are al dente. Add the remaining macadamia nuts on top and serve.
Check out some of our other easy, kid-friendly recipes that we’ve highlighted in other articles:
Casseroles To the Rescue
Casseroles are the MVP for busy parents everywhere. A delicious meal with all the ingredients mixed together, minimal dishes, and one spoon to serve– what more could you want?
22. Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole– These three flavors are the perfect trio for kids. You could probably add “bacon ranch” to anything and have a hit.
23. Chicken Tetrazzini–One of my go-to pasta recipes just happens to be a casserole. And I’m not ashamed. This recipe is great if your kids are not huge fans of red sauce because it has a creamy cheese sauce instead.
24. Taco casserole–The one thing with tacos: they will ALWAYS snap in half when you take a bite, no matter how skilled you think you are. For kiddos, that means twice the mess. That’s why a taco casserole is a knife-and-fork route you should take instead.
25. Baked Ziti–There’s a reason you see this dish at every single potluck: it’s unbeatable. Pasta, cheese, tomato sauce, and ground beef–all the makings of a dinnertime hit.
You Can Never Have Too Many Chicken Recipes
26. Buffalo Chicken Chili– Even though we included it as a “fall recipe,” this hearty chili deserves to be on the menu for more than one season.
27. Crock-Pot Butter Chicken– Butter chicken is one of the staples of Indian cuisine, and for a good reason. It’s super tasty, especially if you like a little spice! However, feel free to modify this recipe if your kids are not huge fans of chili powder
29. CrockPot Chicken– I know what you’re thinking, “another CrockPot chicken recipe?” But this one was created out of the chaos of virtual school, so you know it’ll be a simple, stress-free lifesaver.
30. Chicken Katsu– If your kids like chicken tenders, then they’ll probably like chicken Katsu. And the best part? You can make it in the air fryer, and everyone can eat it with their favorite kind of sauce!
31. Nacho Chicken Casserole–What kid would turn down dinner if it has Doritos in it? And what adult, for that matter?
Easy Dinner Recipes Mean More Memories
Our busy lives can make it hard to come up with good dinner ideas on the weeknights. Between the chaotic schedules, homework, and extra-curricular activities, finding easy dinner ideas that everyone loves is the name of the game. And, the less time you spend hovering over the stove, the more you can spend doing the things you love with your family. Do you have any favorite weekday dinner recipes that are simple and tasty? Share your go-to dinner ideas on FamilyApp!