Do you want 13 easy dinner ideas for the whole family to try for dinner? Life today moves at a rapid pace. Between work, school, extracurricular activities, and more, families are busier than ever. When dinnertime rolls around, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours in the kitchen. However, sitting down to share a home-cooked meal is an important way for families to connect. The good news is, with a bit of planning, it’s easy to put delicious, nutritious meals on the table that the whole family will enjoy.
Simple strategies like batch cooking, utilizing a slow cooker or pressure cooker, and keeping a well-stocked pantry can cut down prep time significantly. Eating home-cooked meals has been shown to promote healthier eating habits in kids and can save money compared to eating out. With a few easy dinner ideas in your repertoire, you can cut down on the daily dinner grind.
Here are 13 easy dinner ideas for the whole family to add to your regular rotation:
Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas
Skip the skillet and make steak fajitas on a sheet pan. Slice your protein of choice along with bell peppers and onions. Toss with oil, fajita seasoning, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until the veggies soften and the meat is cooked through. Serve with tortillas, guacamole, salsa, cheese, and lettuce.
Crock Pot Chicken Thighs
Chicken thighs in crock pot are a crowd-pleasing family favorite. In a crockpot, arrange eight bone-in chicken thighs and pour 6 ounces of beer (or chicken broth for a kid-friendly recipe) over them. Season generously with garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours or high heat for 2-4 hours. Enjoy flavorful and tender chicken thighs!
Pasta bakes are the ultimate comfort food. Boil pasta like ziti, penne, or rigatoni and mix with your favorite sauce. Popular options are marinara, Alfredo, pesto, or a cheesy blend. Transfer to a baking dish, top with cheese and breadcrumbs, and bake until hot and bubbly. Add cooked ground beef or Italian sausage for extra protein.
Keep a stash of tortillas on hand for an easy dinner anytime. Fill with shredded cheese, cooked chicken, black beans, sautéed veggies, or other favorite fillings. Cook in a skillet with a bit of oil until the tortillas are crispy. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
Breakfast for Dinner
When you need a fast, filling dinner, breakfast hits the spot. Cook scrambled eggs, ham, and cheddar cheese. Pile onto mini sliders and wrap individually to store in the fridge or freezer. Reheat in the microwave for a handheld breakfast sandwich.
Or you can whip up pancakes, waffles, or French toast along with bacon, sausage, or scrambled eggs. Breakfast for dinner is a fun change of pace the whole family will love.
Chicken Nuggets and Fries
Kid-friendly chicken nuggets and fries can be on the table in under 30 minutes. Blend boneless chicken, garlic, salt, pepper, and an egg in a food processor. Make the nuggets and freeze them.
When dinner time comes, simply bake or fry the frozen chicken nuggets and some French fries in the oven. Speed things up by using pre-cut frozen fries from the store or freezing them up like nuggets. Serve with ketchup, ranch, or honey mustard for dipping.
Set out tortillas, cooked ground beef or shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and any other favorite taco toppings. Everyone can build their own customized tacos for an interactive, easy dinner.
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
This family-friendly dinner couldn’t be simpler. Arrange chicken breasts, sliced bell peppers, and onions on a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with fajita seasoning. Bake at 400°F until the chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. Warm tortillas and serve with desired toppings.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Tender, fall-apart pot roast is easy with a slow cooker. Sear the roast first to lock in flavor. Add to the slowcooker with potatoes, carrots, onions, broth, and seasonings. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. The meat shreds easily for hearty sandwiches or to be served with mashed potatoes.
Baked Potato Bar
Baked potatoes are the ultimate dish for an easy, customizable dinner. Simply bake Russet or sweet potatoes and set up a potato bar with different toppings. Offer chili, broccoli cheese sauce, bacon bits, sautéed veggies, cheese, salsa, and sour cream.
Let each family member build their own baked potato creation. The potatoes can be baked ahead of time and just reheated for a quick weeknight dinner.
Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan
Chicken parmesan usually requires frying and baking in multiple steps. Make this classic dish easy with a sheet pan. Coat chicken breasts with breadcrumbs and place them on a sheet pan with some tomatoes and onions. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted. Serve over pasta.
Foil Pack Salmon
Salmon cooked in foil packs makes for easy cleanup and portion control. Place salmon fillets with veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes on individual foil sheets. Season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and desired herbs. Fold into packets and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes. The fish steams perfectly with the veggies.
Chicken Fajita Bowls
Skip the tortillas and turn fajita fixings into easy chicken bowls. Sauté onions, bell peppers, and sliced chicken breast with fajita seasoning. Serve over rice with beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, and other favorite Tex-Mex toppings.
With a little creativity and some easy, time-saving tricks, you can get a healthy, home-cooked dinner on the table quickly any night of the week. Batch cooking on weekends helps you stock up on ready-to-eat items. Take advantage of appliances like slow cookers and sheet pans to simplify cooking. Keep your pantry stocked with versatile ingredients like pasta, tortillas, frozen veggies, and proteins. With these effortless dinner ideas, you can cut down on time spent cooking while still enjoying nutritious family meals.