Family dinners are a timeless tradition. They are a chance for busy families to spend time together, to catch up on what is going on in everyone’s lives, and to bond over a home cooked meal.
More importantly, research shows that family dinners are good for your children’s development. Home cooked meals are almost always more healthy than grab-and-go or fast food, as well as more filling. It’s one of the best ways to encourage your child to try new foods too. Regular family dinners have even been associated with higher marks in school!
However, sometimes, the thought of slaving away over a delicious dinner can leave you less than excited. This could happen for any number of reasons, and it happens to the best of us.
Maybe your daughter loves ham, but won’t eat it if it’s on a pizza or in chicken cordon bleu.
Perhaps you want to prepare something nutritious, but your son won’t eat anything that even remotely resembles a vegetable.
Or, if your family is always on the go between dance classes and sports practices, some nights it could just be hard to set aside the time in your busy to prepare a meal.
Luckily there are plenty of meals that are delicious, nutritious, and simple to make. Even your pickiest eaters will love at least one of these 6 easy dinner recipes for families!
1. Wagon Wheel Beef Soup
Your kids will love the fun noodles, but you will love this hearty recipe because it is simple to make and packed with protein! This recipe is easy to customise by either adding vegetables or beans that your family loves or skipping that one vegetable that they can’t stand.
The prep time of 25 minutes largely accounts for the time required to cook the noodles and the beef, but you can chop vegetables simultaneously to cut down on the prep time if you’d like. If you have the time, you can let this soup simmer for longer than 10 minutes to really let the flavours sink in, This soup keeps well for several days in the fridge – and freezes well too! – so it’s easy to make a big batch to save some for a day that you need to whip something up quickly.
- Ingredients: Wagon wheel pasta, ground beef, chopped onion, tomatoes, kidney beans
- Prep time: 25 minutes
- Cook time: 10 minutes
2. Southwest Chicken Roll Ups
If your children like Hot Pockets, then they will love this healthier twist! This recipe only uses five ingredients, but it looks and tastes like you slaved away all night to make it. It does include a little picante kick, which you can adjust based on your family’s tolerance for spice. You also will have plenty of flexibility with side dishes, as any vegetable that accompanies well with Mexican food is sure to be a hit.
The most time-intensive part of this recipe is flattening the chicken breasts, but if you recruit a few little helpers even that could go quickly. Once the chicken is flattened, simply roll the cream cheese and seasonings inside, and coat the rolls in bread crumbs before popping them in the oven! These are best served piping hot, but are easy to make in single-dinner batches.
- Key ingredients: Halved chicken breasts, low-fat cream cheese, picante sauce, cilantro, bread crumbs
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
3. Greek Chicken and Angel Hair Pasta
This recipe is perfect for nights when you’ve invited your parents or one of your children’s friends for dinner but time for dinner preparation is tight. In fact, you can put this dish together in only about 30 minutes! This dish packs plenty of protein in the chicken as well as antioxidants and nutrients in the peppers and tomatoes.
While the pasta cooks, cook the chicken breasts in a skillet for a few minutes on each side and then add the vegetables and seasonings. Cover the skillet and simmer on low until the chicken is cooked through. To serve, scoop onto the pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
- Key ingredients: Angel hair pasta, chicken, bell peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 25 minutes
Think breakfast food can only be served in the morning? Think again!
Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, as well as healthy types of cholesterol. They are also good for overall heart health, which makes them a recommended addition to parents’ diets too!
Serving omelettes for dinner comes with two huge advantages. First, they are incredibly simple to make, requiring very little advanced planning. You can make omelettes with standard breakfast ingredients, but you can also repurpose whatever leftover meats or vegetables that you have in your fridge to whip up a nutritious dinner in a pinch. Second, omelettes can be easily customised to the individual preferences of each family member. If tomatoes are your favourite vegetable but your child won’t eat them, then simply don’t add them to your child’s omelette. No muss, no fuss, no need to make multiple batches or change the dinner plate.
Here are a few creative omelette ideas you can try!
- Italian omelette: Chicken, pesto, mozzarella cheese, sundried tomatoes
- Southwestern omelette: Black beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, cheddar cheese
- Greek omelette: Chicken, olives, onions, feta cheese
- Prep time: 5 minutes
- Cook time: 5 minutes
5. Fried Rice
Fried rice is another easily customisable dinner. This recipe specifically calls for shrimp, but in reality you could substitute chicken, pork, beef, or tofu for the shrimp. Another option would be to use brown rice instead of white for a healthier grain choice. You can also swap vegetables in and out of the recipe without requiring expensive modifications to the cooking prep. In fact, you could even use a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables instead of using fresh vegetables, or microwaveable bagged rice instead of fresh, to super-simplify the prep!
If you do choose to use shrimp, remember to thaw the shrimp in the fridge prior to making dinner.
- Key ingredients: Rice (white or brown), meat (if desired), vegetables
- Prep time: 10 minutes, but varies with ingredient choices
- Cook time: 10 minutes, 20 minutes if using fresh meat
6. Fish and Corn Cakes
Seafood loving families will get a kick out of this recipe. The cakes can be made small enough to eat as finger food or large enough to use as a patty for a sandwich. This recipe also pairs well with any vegetable or side dish you can think of, which makes meal planning a breeze!
This recipe includes directions to make your own tartar sauce, which can be done up to two days in advance, but you could also purchase your own to simplify the meal prep process. This recipe does require some additional time for the patties to chill, but this meal is worth the wait.
The fish cakes themselves are fairly straightforward. Bake the fish in the oven until it is cooked through and flaky. While the fish is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients. Once fish is cooled, break it into pieces and add to the mixture. Shape the mixture into small patties and chill for about 30 minutes. Cook in a skillet until golden brown, and enjoy!
- Key ingredients: White fish fillets, mayonnaise, corn, seasoned panko, tartar sauce
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 45 minutes
These recipes are sure to be a hit with your family. Your kids will know that they are delicious, and you can rest easy knowing that they are also nutritious.
Many of these recipes can be customised to your family’s eating habits and food preferences. You can also use shortcuts, such as buying frozen vegetables or pre-prepared meats, to decrease the prep time for others. Any of these meals can be used to satisfy a hungry crowd while maintaining your busy schedule. Bon appetit!