Need some crowd pleasing easy family meal ideas?
I got 15 for you in this post.
These recipes come directly from my friends dietitians, so they are not only simple and delicious, but also full of nutritional goodness.
And most of them can be prepared in under 30 minutes, to make it easier to put a meal on the table on busy weeknights.
A few basic game “rules” to keep in mind:
- Always include something you child likes in each meal, especially if you feel that the main dish is not something he may take to immediately.
- Try to serve meals family style, so everyone can serve themselves what they like.
- It is better to have more options on the table rather than fewer. Do not be afraid to add another starch to the meal (bread or another grain) and round it up with some fruit, veggies, cheese, dips or another easy side your kids like.
Pasta-based family meals
Because… kids, right?
One pot, made with mostly pantry staples, with veggies of your choice. Need I say more? This one is a keeper!
Pasta+cheese = win in our house. You can freeze these little guys as well for a quick no-worry weeknight dinner later on.
Guess what? This red sauce is made with roasted red peppers, ricotta and chickpeas! Cannot wait to try it.
I love that this recipe is made with mostly pantry ingredients, has the winning sesame/garlic/peanut butter combo and looks almost too pretty to eat!
With a simple and delicious pasta salad recipe, you are prepared to tackle all kinds of challenges, from recycling pasta dinner leftovers to contributing a star dish to a potluck dinner. Feel free to deconstruct it, in oder to turn your meal into a more kid-friendly and interactive experience. Add a simple protein choice, and maybe some additional starch and/or fruit, to round up the meal.
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Nicoise salad is one of the most versatile dishes I know. Do not like canned tuna? Replace with freshly cooked. Add potatoes or make it with pasta. Have some feta sitting in the fridge? Take your salad to another level by sprinkling some on top, like Jessica did in this recipe. My kids would eat almost everything sprinkled with feta :). And, of course, it is very easy to serve deconstructed, so kids can create their own mini versions on their plates.
Ethnic Family Meals
These dishes will inject some bold flavors into your family dinner rotation. Many kids, even those on a choosy side, love a touch of spice. And if they don’t (yet), do not despair. It took my kids 2 (!) years to learn to like chicken curry after we moved to the UK. But now I know that nothing is impossible. 🙂
Looks so pretty, doesn’t it? Feel free to cut down on chili powder and fresh chilies if you are not a fan of too much heat and make LOTS of basmati rice to serve it with.
I have been making this recipe for almost 5 years and although my kids went through different phases of not eating chicken, or chickpeas, or carrots, they somehow always manage to dig out something to eat from the pot. Lots of couscous on a side is a must to absorb all the juices.
Bean-based family meal recipes
Say yes to my favorite versatile and inexpensive family meal staple – beans! It goes without saying that canned versions work just as great as dry cooked beans and can also save you some time in the kitchen.
Very affordable and with an irresistible flavor punch from bacon, this soup is perfect for cooking in big batches and freezing.
Super Easy Three Bean Soup by me 🙂
This recipe uses mostly pantry staples and can be thrown together in minutes. It is one of the first dishes I added to our meal rotation with the arrival of the kids, which means I have been cooking it on a regular basis, at least twice a months, for almost 12 years!
Every family needs a reliable and easy recipe for a crowd pleaser like chili. You will be surprised (and your kids – delighted) by a secret ingredient Elizabeth uses to make her version not only uber nutritious but also more flavourful.
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Chicken and turkey based family meals
You say “chicken”, I say “quick weeknight dinner”. But it is so easy to stuck in a rut making it always the same way! I am certainly guilty of that, with my family having (sometimes begrudgingly) enjoyed this easy lemon chicken a little too often last year. You must try it though – I included the recipe below.
If your family is getting tired of plain old roasted chicken this recipe is for you. No luck finding za’atar in a store near you? Try making your own, Katie’s blog post has an easy recipe for this.
I love the idea of using soy sauce in this recipe. Soy sauce works really well with meat and poultry, enhancing its flavor and adding richness. Feel free to use pasta or noodles instead of tortellini to go with the meatballs.
This version of panko crusted chicken is oven baked which means you can get more done in less time, and do not have to worry about oil splattering all over your hob. Less clean up = happier mom (or dad). 🙂
I love how the slow cooker gets to do all the work with this recipe. Definitely a winner for a busy weeknight!
I am not exaggerating, this chicken takes literally 10 minutes to prepare, from fridge to table. And the flavor is out of this world thanks to the butter-lemon combo. Please, do not try to replace butter with olive oil, it is really the key ingredient in this recipe and you do not have to use a lot for a huge impact.
So here you go! 15 simple family meals, approved by dietitians. I hope some of them will make it into your family’s dinner rotation.
In case you are wondering why there are no fish or seafood meals included in the list, stay tuned. I think that it deserves a separate round up so I am preparing a separate list with irresistible recipes that will make even little fish-haters take a bite.
And if you are thinking right now that your kids will NEVER eat any of the dishes above, or you need MORE family meal ideas and recipes, I would like to invite you in our closed FREE Facebook community Feeding Bytes – Real Families, Real Meals. Our group is almost 2K parents strong and we talk about all things feeding kids 24/7 in this 100% judgement free zone. You will love it.
And in the meanwhile, tell me, what are your favorite easy family dinner recipes? Let me know if the comments below!