Find the best, easy weeknight dinners for family meals with these 15 30-minutes (or less!) ideas. With options to make them ahead, freeze them for later, and share with kids of any age.
Easy Weeknight Dinners for Family
I know that we’re all looking for easy meals that can be made quickly, so this list includes 15 of our favorites. Each can be enjoyed by both the kids and the adults at the table and are versatile to help you use pantry and fridge staples you might have on hand.
Each recipe here can be made in less than 30 minutes and can be easily rounded out with a simple side. (See ideas at the end.)
I hope these help you feed your family on those busy days—whether you’re all able to eat at the same time or you’re eating in shifts.
One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese
With a super easy method that only requires one pot, you can have this easy Broccoli Mac and Cheese ready for family dinner—or a kids meal. It cooks in about 20 minutes and has a solid dose of nutrients and deliciousness.
The method on this recipe is streamlined to cut down on dish washing. Add the optional spices for more flavor if you like! Double it to make more.
Cherry Tomato Pasta
Pick up a pint of cherry tomatoes of any kind and make this super easy no-cook sauce to go with a pound of pasta. It’s fresh, fast, and easy to modify as needed.
With a no-cook, stir-together sauce, this easy Cherry Tomato Pasta is an easy family dinner. And OH so delicious and fresh. You can leave it chunky or blend it smooth—it’s so versatile for all preferences!
Zucchini Pasta Sauce
With a base of zucchini and white beans, this vegetarian pasta sauce is satisfying—and you can vary the flavor by adding basil, cheese, and spices.
Learn how to turn fresh zucchini into a bright and fresh pasta sauce with a simple method. Add the optional toppings for extra flavor as you and your family like. (Heads up: You’ll want to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pot.)
Butternut Squash Pasta with Veggies and Sausage
With an easy cooking method that takes less than 20 minutes, this Butternut Squash Pasta is a healthy and yummy family dinner. There are a few variations so you can customize it for your family according to preferences and any allergies you may have!
You can use frozen peas or broccoli in this recipe according to what you have or prefer. See the Notes for vegetarian options.
Cozy comfort food, here we come. This easy Minestrone is a perfect pair for cheese and crackers and it loaded with both veggies and vegetarian protein.
With a streamlined method and a quick cooking time, this veggie-packed baby soup (that big kids and parents will also enjoy!) is filled with vegetarian protein and super yummy Italian flavors.
Cook up this cozy Alphabet Soup recipe the next time you want an easy meal that’s also fun! ABC pasta is a perfect addition to this kid-friendly soup—and you can tailor the veggies to the likes (or dislikes!) of your own kiddos. It’s so versatile!
You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this Alphabet Soup recipe. And you can start with fresh or frozen veggies. See below for options.
Serve this flavorful and tender chicken with rice, pita, and cucumber for a delicious meal for the entire family.
Chicken Noodle Soup
There’s nothing like a bowl of cozy, comforting Chicken Noodle Soup—especially when it’s one that’s easy to make in about 30 minutes. This version is quick to make and is one of our one of our very favorite soups for kids…and family dinners to share.
This easy recipe makes a big pot of comforting soup to feed the whole family—babies, toddlers, and big kids included. The leftovers store nicely so you can enjoy it for a few days!
The next time you just cannot summon the energy to cook a meal…Snack Dinner to the rescue! I love this easy concept because it’s so easy to make one big platter for the whole family to share, or individual plates for each kiddo. And: You can use up so many items you already have in the house!
You can do a big family-style platter or individual ones for the kids depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing and know that the nutrition info will vary according to what you use.
Serve up an easy Taco Buffet without any cooking or involved prep work and have an easy family dinner on the table in minutes. This taco bar is one of my very favorite family meals and it’s so easy to customize!
I prefer to make these vegetarian since it’s easier, but you can of course add in cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp if you like! Add another can of beans or additional corn to feed a larger family or appetites.
Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu
For those nights when you want a super quick and healthy family dinner, this Healthy Vegetable Stir Fry should be on your must-make list. It comes together in about 20 minutes and it’s super easy to customize for your kids!
I like to use vegetables like carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and snap peas in this easy recipe. Plan to cook the rice ahead of time or to get it started first.
20-Minute Stir Fry Noodles
Use rice noodles or spaghetti in this easy skillet dinner and whichever quick-cooking veggies your family prefers. You can even add some Sesame Tofu to the pan before you start the veggies to add in a protein.
Try this quick family dinner the next time you’re craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family! You can add a protein to this dish if you’d like. See the Notes for options.
Sheet Pan Quesadillas
Learn how to make a big batch of quesadillas for the family all at the same time with these easy oven-baked Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas. They’re flavorful, straight-forward, and so delish!
These easy quesadillas can be made with pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, or butternut squash puree. You can also skip it and just go with beans and cheese! I make these as half moon shapes since it helps contain the mess a little when feeding these to kids.
Pizza Rolls with Cheese
This Mini Spinach and Cheese Pizza Roll recipe is packed with nutrition—and even greens!—but the cheese, and silly spiral shape makes them much more appeal to toddlers and big kids. And: You can make them in about 30 minutes and stash them in the fridge or freezer for future meals.
Be sure to grease your pan well and roll the dough up fairly tightly around the fillings for best results. (But it’s okay if they don’t look perfect when they go into the pan!)
Sheet Pan Nachos
These healthy Baked Sheet Pan Nachos have a tender potato base and are topped with black beans, cheese, salsa and (optional!) spinach. They’re a total family dinner hit—and are so easy to prep ahead of time to make getting dinner on the table possible on even busy days.
You can add some of the ingredients to some of the areas—leaving the spinach off, adding more salsa or spice—to customize for everyone at the table. I usually leave about a ⅓ of the pan for the kids with less greens and salsa and then pile it on for my husband and I.
How to Store and Reheat Weeknight Dinners
You can store these meals in the fridge, either as leftovers or made ahead, for 3-5 days in the fridge. To reheat, portion into a heat-safe bowl or plate and warm in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
With any pasta that seems to have firmed up in the fridge, sprinkle with a little water before heating.
Easy Sides to Add
Round out any easy weeknight meal for your family with an easy side dish such as:
- Salad kit (my family particularly loves Caesar salad)
- Thinly sliced apples, pears, or peaches
- Crackers and cheese
- Sliced bread and butter
- Warmed frozen veggies
- Canned fruit
How to Modify for Babies and Toddlers
Use a knife or kitchen scissors to dice up any of these meals for a baby eating finger foods or for a toddler. You can also shred chicken as needed, and cut quesadillas, pizza rolls, or bread into strips for easier biting and chewing.
Best Tips for Success
- Try serving meals family-style and let the kids have a little more power over what goes onto their plate (which can help improve mealtime dynamics if they’ve been a struggle).
- Prep one veggie on the weekend so it’s ready to go during the week.
- Double any of the meals (except the Snack Dinner) and stash into the freezer for a future week.
I’d love to hear your feedback on these ideas, so please comment below to share!
Add the broth and milk to a large pot set over high heat. Bring just to a boil, then reduce to medium-high.
Stir in the pasta and salt, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the pasta is just soft. (The liquid will not be totally absorbed and that is okay—it will be by the end of the process!)
Meanwhile, steam or otherwise warm the broccoli or peas if using. Drain. Cut up the broccoli, if using.
Turn the heat off under the pasta and stir the cheese, broccoli. butter, cream cheese, and salt into the mixture. Taste and season with additional salt as needed. Serve.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Warm for 30-60 seconds, or until warmed through, in the microwave.
- The size of the you use may alter the cooking time slightly. This recipe was tested with elbow , so any kind that’s a similar size should work the same.
- I prefer to use steam-in-the-bag frozen broccoli to cut down on pots, but you can also steam fresh or regular frozen broccoli florets in a pot fitted with a steamer basket.
- This is very filling, so I usually don’t make a full pound of pasta. If you’d like to, you can click the “2x” in the recipe card to adjust it up.
- Add the optional spices to add more flavor as desired. Adults may also like to top their serving with crushed red pepper or hot sauce.
- See the post for more easy dinner ideas.
Calories: 475kcal, Carbohydrates: 55g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 53mg, Sodium: 584mg, Potassium: 622mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 1058IU, Vitamin C: 63mg, Calcium: 395mg, Iron: 2mg