As we head into one of the busier months of the year, I hope these easy winter dinner ideas help you feed your family well. You’ll find quick dinners, make-ahead meals, freezer meals, and 4 weeks of dinners designed to feed your entire family!

winter meals in grid of 6

Winter Dinner Ideas

As with all of my other meals plans, each dinner here can be customized as needed for your family. I usually add simple sides to round out any dinner and to ensure that my kids always have something on the table that they like—even if that’s a side dish of fruit or a veggie.

Feel free to simplify as needed since I am sure you have a lot going on!

Meal-plan-printable-2_web

Free Meal Planning Rotation

You can download a copy of the free Meal Planning Rotation. I do my meal plans using the idea of a rotation where you use general categories every other week to reduce decision fatigue and also give the kids a chance to see foods regularly to help them learn to like the.

Above here is our rough meal plan for this month.

Yes, really, THIS IS IT. I have two options for breakfast and dinner that we can choose from—I usually alternate each week—then a set rotation of lunch ideas.

This allows me to the number of decisions I need to make since I’m starting with narrow categories, but still have flexibility, variety, and spontaneity with all of the choices available within a category.

So when you want to be having fun making salt dough or sugar cookies, you can also have a simple plan for the meals around those times.

TIP: Download the printable in my Resource Library.

december-week-1

December Week 1

Breakfast Ideas

Fresh Cranberry Orange Bread
This quick bread works really well to bake ahead and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve it. We love it topped with cream cheese, but butter and honey also work.
Get the recipe
sliced-cranberry-orange-bread-on-plate
Banana Oatmeal Muffins (SO Good!)
For the best flavor and sweeteness, use bananas with a lot of brown spots.
Get the recipe
banana oatmeal muffins
Simple Sweet Potato Smoothie
If you make the roasted sweet potato ahead of time, this balanced snack or meal component comes together in minutes.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-smoothie-in-cup

Lunch & Snack Ideas

Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)
These work well to make ahead and warm up for an easy lunch or dinner. These taste best served warm.
Get the recipe
pizza-muffins-on-wire-rack-with-kids-hand
Make-Ahead Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins
These soft breakfast egg cups are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.
Get the recipe
egg-cups-on-plate-with-toast
Easy Sugar Cookies (Healthy and Delish!)
This makes a small batch of lightly sweet cookies. Double it to make more. If at any point the dough seems too sticky, pop it into the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up a bit. Or dust your parchment paper and cookie cutters with flour.
Get the recipe
healthy sugar cookies
Orange-Honey Fruit Snacks
These take at least an hour or two to set in the fridge, so plan to make them a little in advance of when you want to serve them.
Get the recipe
homemade fruit snacks
Easy Sweet Potato Hummus
When I just need one sweet potato for a recipe, I often cook it in the microwave. Dice it, place it in a large 4-cup glass measuring cup, cover with two inches of water and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Roasted Sweet Potato or Crockpot Sweet Potato works well too!  
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-dip-in-white-bowl
Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Classic loaded Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with lower sugar for the whole family. Choose your add-ins based on the kinds you like!
Get the recipe
stack-of-healthy-loaded-chocolate-chip-cookies

Dinner Ideas

Add simple sides of fruit, cheese, crackers or muffins to round out any of these easy winter dinner ideas.

Easy Citrus Shrimp and Noodles
With a quick 20-minute cooking method perfect for a weeknight dinner, this easy Shrimp and Noodles recipe has a flavorful (yet kid-friendly!) Asian sauce with a refreshing hit of citrus. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp in this recipe. If using frozen, defrost according to package directions.
Get the recipe
Pan with shrimp and noddles and kids plate on side
Easy Avocado Pasta
Any pasta shape works in this recipe, so choose your family’s favorite! Omit the garlic if you think the flavor might be too strong for your people. My kids prefer this without the garlic. I like it with it for myself!
Get the recipe
avocado-pasta-in-bowls-on-towel
Sweet Potato and Cheese Quesadillas
Serve these quesadillas with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole as desired. You can leave them as simple vegetarian quesadillas or add in a protein like chicken or beans.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-quesadillas-on-blue-plate
Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Forget takeout—deliver this popular Indian dish to your table instead. Shredded chicken thighs are coated in a rich, buttery sauce with hints of tomatoes, ginger, and garam masala—a messy but very flavorful finger food. Posted with Permission from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook
Get the recipe
instant-pot-butter-chicken
One-Pot Lentils and Rice
Serve this easy family meal with optional toppings according to what everyone likes.
Get the recipe
kids-bowl-lentils-and-rice
Big Batch Vegetarian Chili
When serving this to a little one, I like to drain off much of the broth. This makes it a little easier (and less messy) for them to eat. If your family likes spice, add in a dash or two of cayenne pepper.
Get the recipe
vegetarian chili

10-Minute Flatbread Pizza (Just 3 Ingredients!)
For delicious homemade pizza without the work and in a lot less time, Flatbread Pizza to the rescue. Adjust this for allergies as you need.
Get the recipe
flatbread-pizza-on-plates-with-apple-slices

december-week-2

December Week 2

Breakfast Ideas

Blueberry Banana Muffins with Oats
Like a cross between a fluffy blueberry muffin and baked oatmeal, these muffins are moist and packed with yummy nutrition.
Get the recipe
blueberry banana muffins
Healthy Pumpkin Bars Recipe
These bars are tender when warm out of the oven, so do be sure to let them cool completely before slicing.
Get the recipe
sliced pumpkin bars on cutting board
Easy Pumpkin Oatmeal (with Any Kind of Oats)
You can make this in about 15 minutes on any morning, or make the whole recipe ahead and simply warm right before serving. See the Notes for variations to make it with other types of oats.
Get the recipe
pumpkin-oatmeal-in-white-and-pink-bowls

Lunch & Snack Ideas

Vegetarian Burritos with Rice and Beans
You can vary the beans if you like in these simple burritos. Serve them with salsa and/or sour cream.
Get the recipe
rice and bean burritos
5-Ingredient Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Use yellow or white cheese according to your child’s color expectations!
Get the recipe
cauliflower mac and cheese
Mini Cinnamon Muffins
Made with a base of applesauce and whole grain flour, these easy mini muffins are sweet enough to taste like a treat!
Get the recipe
healthy-cinnamon-muffins on wire rack
Soft Roasted Chickpeas with Cinnamon
If you start with dried beans in this salty-sweet snack, make sure to cook them until they are very tender. If making these for a kiddo under one, use maple syrup instead of honey or skip the sweetener all together.
Get the recipe
roasted chickpea recipe
Easy Spinach Grilled Cheese
You can also do this with full size spinach if that's what you're able to find. Just discard any stems before starting the recipe.
Get the recipe
spinach-grilled-cheese-on-plate
Easy Gingerbread Cookies
Flavorful, whole-wheat gingerbread with just a hint of natural sweetness. These are a perfect holiday cookie to make with the kids. Double the batch to make more.
Get the recipe
healthy gingerbread cookies on round plate

Dinner Ideas

Make a double batch of the meatballs and stash them in the freezer for a future easy meal.

Healthy Meatballs (with Hidden Vegetables)
With the texture you expect from a traditional meatball, but added nutrition from three types of veggies, your whole family will love these.
Get the recipe
healthy meatballs in large bowl and small kids bowl
Quick Teriyaki Shrimp with Zucchini and Rice
We like this with rice or rice noodles, but you can adjust how you serve it to fit your family!
Get the recipe
easy teryiaki shrimp
Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos
You can try serving this to your toddler with the components separated if they aren’t quite up to holding and eating a regular taco. Simply arrange the filling, the tortillas, and toppings on a plate and let them eat them however they like!
Get the recipe
parent and kids roasted sweet potato taco plates
Easy Spaghetti with Sausage and Green Beans
Finish the adult servings (and more adventurous kid plates!) with a squeeze of fresh lemon and maybe crushed red pepper. Note that you’ll want to reserve some of the cooking water, so plan to take some out in a cup before you drain the pasta!
Get the recipe
spaghetti with sausage and feta in white bowl
One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Brown Rice
Add some warmed frozen peas, whole grain toast, or a side of fruit to add a few simple sides if desired. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to ensure the rice cooks through.
Get the recipe
healthy chicken and brown rice on kids plate
Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)
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.
Get the recipe
family-style-snack-plate
Easy Sweet Potato Brownies
Plan to make the sweet potato ahead of time or use canned puree. Otherwise, this one-bowl recipe is super simple!
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-brownie-stack

december-week-3

December Week 3

Breakfast Ideas

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe with Apples
You can make this overnight the and enjoy it for breakfast the following day, or make a whole batch ahead and eat it throughout the week. *To do this overnight, choose the LOW heat option and cook time.
Get the recipe
overnight steel cut oats with apples
Favorite Gingerbread Muffins
With mellow, yet flavorful warm spices and a super easy method, these Gingerbread Muffins are (dare I say it) perfect.
Get the recipe
gingerbread-muffins-on-counter
Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
You can use peanut butter, almond butter, or Sunbutter in this recipe. Choose creamy unsweetened if possible.
Get the recipe
breakfast-cookies-on-white-plate
Banana Oatmeal Pancakes (with Extra Protein)
Very ripe (with brown spots) bananas will give these pancakes the best flavor. Dice them up or serve whole, according to how the kids prefer to eat them.
Get the recipe
banana-oatmeal-pancakes-on-gray-plate

Lunch & Snack Ideas

Favorite Pizza Rolls (with Spinach and Cheese)
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!) 
Get the recipe
pizza-rolls-on-kids-plate
Quick Yogurt Parfaits (10 Ways)
Try serving these parfaits for a fun breakfast or snack. Adjust the amount as needed for your child.
Get the recipe
healthy yogurt parfaits in small containers
Mac and Cheese with Peas (Fav Shortcut Toddler Meal)
With an easy method and a yummy, satisfying result, this quick toddler meal is one of our go-to shortcut kids meals.
Get the recipe
mac-and-cheese-with-peas
Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich (to Share with the Kids)
With just 4 ingredients, including a veggie that blends right in, this Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a yummy kids lunch to share. It packs extra nutrition in the filling, yet only takes a few minutes to make. Such a great easy meal!
Get the recipe
veggie-grilled-cheese-on-plate
Healthy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
These fluffy cookies are not super sweet, so you can add 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar to the batter if desired. (We like them just fine as is with the chocolate chips for sweetness!)
Get the recipe
pumpkin cookies on plate
Easy Pear Sauce
Transform fresh pears into the most delicious fruit sauce with this simple method. It's a delicious fruit puree to share with a baby or toddler that you can serve on its own or mixed with yogurt or oatmeal.
Get the recipe
pear sauce on counter

Dinner Ideas

Use the leftover black bean soup as taco filling for an easy lunch, or as enchilada filling for another easy winter dinner idea.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (with Instant Pot Option)
The addition of grains helps to thicken the soup to a nice consistency for little eaters, so don't be worried if it's pretty thin before you add them in before serving.
(This post was updated and the recipe was streamlined November 2020. You can get the
original recipe here.)
 
Get the recipe
slow-cooker-black-bean-soup
Extra-Veggie Baby Pasta (with Iron)
Adding beans and extra veggies helps make this easy baby pasta satisfying, nutritious, and yummy. Serve it more or less saucy as you like. (You can even freeze the sauce for easy future meals.)
Get the recipe
baby-pasta-in-four-white-bowls
Easy Spinach Quesadillas
You can also do this with full size spinach if that’s what you’re able to find. Just discard any stems before starting the recipe.
Get the recipe
spinach quesadillas
Shortcut Butternut Squash Risotto
You can cook the rice ahead of time and do Step 1 ahead. Or make the whole dish ahead and warm to serve when needed.
Get the recipe
butternut-squash-risotto-in-white-bowls
Favorite Healthy Toddler Smoothie (with Veggies!)
Learn to customize yummy smoothies for your toddler by starting with one simple recipe, then adjusting based on which fruit and veggies you'd like to use.
Get the recipe
toddler-smoothies-in-mason-jars
Easy Breakfast Burritos
These are called “breakfast” burritos since they have eggs, but you can serve them for any meal of the day!
Get the recipe
breakfast-burritos-on-purple-plate
Easy Greek Pita Pizzas
Serve these assembled as shown, or with the toasted pita bread alongside the hummus and toppings depending on how your child will prefer it.
Get the recipe
greek pita pizzas on pink plate with peaches
Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I like to frost these soon before serving. You can make the frosting ahead, transfer it to a zip top bag, and store in the fridge until ready to add to the cupcakes.
Get the recipe
mini-pumpkin-cupcakes-with-frosting

december-week-4

December Week 4

Breakfasts

Healthy Pumpkin Mini Muffins
Use a gluten-free flour blend or whole wheat depending on what works best for your family. This recipe has very little flour—that is not a mistake. They bake up wonderfully, so have faith! Adapted from Against All Grain.  
Get the recipe
healthy pumpkin muffins on bear plate
Eggnog French Toast Sticks
You can make this recipe ahead of time and warm up a few sticks for a quick breakfast on future days or make the whole batch as a family breakfast.
Get the recipe
baked french toast sticks with raspberries
Best Chocolate Smoothie (with Veggies!)
Be sure to blend this super smooth for the best texture. Use any or none of the optional ingredients. See the Notes for how to make this with regular milk.
Get the recipe
healthy-chocolate-smoothie-with-straw
Easy Bacon and Egg Muffins
I like adding the thyme in these for extra flavor, but it's optional! Be sure to grease your muffin tin well with nonstick spray to help prevent these from sticking to the pan. A nonstick mini muffin pan works best here.
Get the recipe
bacon-and-egg-muffins-in-bowl

Lunch & Snacks

Fluffy Sweet Potato Muffins
Plan to prepare the sweet potatoes at least an hour—and up to 3 days ahead—before you start making the muffins so it has time to cool. See the Notes for options for the sweet potato. These are very lightly sweet. Add ¼ cup brown sugar if desired to make them sweeter.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-muffins-in-pan
Quick Sandwich Roll Ups (2-Minute School Lunch)
Pair a soft sandwich bread with your filling of choice to make this easy toddler lunch or school lunch. You can even make them the night before.
Get the recipe
sandwich-roll-ups-in-stainless-container
Easy Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
Prep the rice, beans, and veggies ahead if you can or want to. They store well in the fridge and simply need to be reheated. The nutrition information in this recipe will vary based on the ingredients you choose to use.
Get the recipe
grain bowls with rice and beans
Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
These soft cookies are a perfect afternoon snack (pair them with milk!) or dessert. (Recipe updated September 2020 to reduce the flour slightly to ensure the batter isn’t too dry.) These cookies are soft baked and very tender!
Get the recipe
healthy-oatmeal-raisin-cookies-with-toddler-hand

Dinner Ideas

Since each family has its own unique traditions, I don’t expect to tell you what to have for Christmas, but these meals is what my family likes to have in case if gives you some ideas!

Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)
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.
Get the recipe
family-style-snack-plate
One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese
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.
Get the recipe
servings-of-broccoli-mac-and-cheese-for-family
Vegan Tomato Soup (5-Ingredients!)
Taste the soup after pureeing and add a little more salt if needed. The sweet potato adds creaminess without dairy—and so much flavor!
Get the recipe
vegan tomato soup in white bowl
Quick Butternut Squash Pasta with Veggies and Sausage
You can use frozen peas or broccoli in this recipe according to what you have or prefer. See the Notes for vegetarian options.
Get the recipe
butternut-squash-pasta-in-white-bowl-and-teal-bowls
Best Boiled Green Beans
You can break or cut these into any size you prefer. I usually just break them in half.
Get the recipe
boiled-green-beans-in-white-bowl
Easy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes in this recipe. They are usually very widely available at grocery stores.
Get the recipe
make-ahead-mashed-potatoes
Veggie-Packed Potato Ham Soup
Since the saltiness of your ham may vary, taste at the end and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. You can add more ham if you prefer more.
Get the recipe
potato ham soup in white bowls
Healthy Chocolate Cake (Lower Sugar, Allergy-Friendly)
I use two 6-inch cake pans to make this cake, which is a perfect size for a small gathering or even to use as a smash cake.
Get the recipe
slice-of-healthy-chocolate-cake-on-pink-plate
Favorite Cranberry Apple Pie
With sweet-tart flavors and an easy method, this pie is perfect for the winter holidays! Use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe for the best results. Discard any that are blemished or shriveled.
Get the recipe
baked cranberry apple pie
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I’d love to hear if there’s a recipe you’re especially excited to cook this winter so please comment below to share!

This post was first published November 2020.

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