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Make family dinner easier with this master list of dinner ideas for kids…that grownups will enjoy too! These are some of our favorite meals using pasta, chicken, vegetarian staples, pizza flavors, and fast methods to help you feed your family day in and day out.
Dinner Ideas for Kids
I know that there are loads of lists that call the recipes “kid-friendly” and while I can’t guarantee that all of these will work for your family, I do think that there is a great assortment of options here. And each was developed with little kids in mind AND meant to be easy enough for you to pull off in short spurts of time.
I try my hardest to make recipes that the kids will enjoy and that parents will also want to eat to simplify how much we’re cooking. And I hope this collection offers some ideas the next time you’ve otherwise run out!
I’ve divided these up into sections so you can use the links right below here to go to the one you want, or simply scroll down to see what looks good!
Pasta is a staple dinner option and the ones here are some of our favorites. And never underestimate the power of plain buttered noodles with a little Parmesan with a simple side—not every dinner has to be all out complicated!
Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.
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!
This pasta recipe is quick and delicious and the flavor from the sausage is really key. (Just a heads up that you'll need to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water, so keep that in mind BEFORE you drain the pasta.) Chicken sausage is usually leaner than pork, so when making this with chicken sausage, I like to add butter or olive oil before serving.
This easy skillet dinner is super cozy and super versatile. You can use freshly diced butternut squash or precut squash from the store and frozen peas or broccoli according to what you have or prefer. See the Notes for vegetarian options.
Mixing up chicken recipes is an easy way to make dinner more interesting for everyone at the table. And whether the kids like nuggets, tenders, meatballs, or chicken sandwiches, there are plenty of options here.
Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets (SO Crispy!)
These chicken nuggets have simple ingredients and a pleasantly crispy exterior. Aim to cut the chicken into similarly sized pieces so they bake evenly.
You can double this recipe and use 2 pounds of chicken if desired. Just do your best to spread it into an even layer in the instant pot. (Note: The nutrition facts will vary based on the bbq sauce that you use.)
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. Adapted from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook.
The combination of vegetables listed below delivers really nice flavor and consistency to the sauce, but if you want to simplify, you can just use 2 of the options. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to add an Instant Pot option.
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.)
You can use any store bought crust for this recipe, or try my easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. I like making these as personal pizzas for the kids since they cook so fast, but you can also make one large pizza. See the Notes at the bottom for that info.
If you’re using Homemade Pizza Dough, make it at least an hour before you plan to assemble the pockets. If using store-bought, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it’s not super cold when you try to form the pockets.
Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these tots are a seriously fun way to serve broccoli. You can cook the rice up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to bake the tots.
Perfect for dipping and dunking veggies, this recipe makes enough for 2-3 servings, so you can store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat it for 15-30 seconds in the microwave to serve. You can also toss any leftovers with pasta for a quick and healthy mac and cheese.
With skillet recipes, one-pot methods, sheet pans, and short cooking times, these easy family meals are nice options for when you’re short on time and energy.
Easy Stuffed Peppers Skillet
You can use whichever type of rice your family likes best. We rotate through short grain brown rice, basmati, and jasmine. Adults may want to top their portions with shredded fresh basil and/or crushed red pepper.
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.
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.
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.
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.