Find the best, easy weeknight dinners for family meals with these 30-minutes (or less!) ideas. With options to make them ahead, freeze them for later, and share with kids of any age.

broccoli mac and cheese in bowls on counter.

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.

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.
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servings-of-broccoli-mac-and-cheese-for-family

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.

Easy Cherry Tomato Pasta (to Share with the Kids)
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!
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cherry-tomato-pasta-in-white-and-colored-bowls
Zucchini pasta on counter in two bowls with side of strawberries

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.

Zucchini Pasta Sauce
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.)
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Zucchini pasta on counter in two bowls with side of strawberries
butternut-squash-pasta in white and blue bowls

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!

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.
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butternut-squash-pasta-in-white-bowl-and-teal-bowls
minestrone-soup-for-kids-in-yellow-bowl

Extra-Veggie Minestrone

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.

Extra-Veggie Minestrone Baby Soup (for Big Kids too!)
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.
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three-bowls-of-minestrone
alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl

Alphabet Soup

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!

Favorite Alphabet Soup
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.
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alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl
butter-chicken-on-kids-and-parents-plate

Butter Chicken

Serve this flavorful and tender chicken with rice, pita, and cucumber for a delicious meal for the entire family.

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
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instant-pot-butter-chicken
chicken soup for kids in teal bowl

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.

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup for Kids
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!
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chicken soup for kids in teal bowl
family-style-snack-plate

Snack Dinner

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!

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.
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family-style-snack-plate
taco-buffet-ingredients-in-white-plates

Taco Buffet

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!

Easy Taco Buffet (No-Cooking Required!)
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.
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taco-buffet-ingredients-in-white-plates
stir fry for kids on yellow plate and green bowl

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!

Vegetable Stir Fry with Rice and Tofu
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.
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sesame-tofu-with-veggies-and-rice-in-bowl
stir fry noodles with vegetables

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.

20-Minute Stir Fry Noodles with Veggies
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.
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stir fry noodles with vegetables
sheet-pan-quesadillas-on-platter

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!

Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas
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.
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sheet-pan-quesadillas-on-platter
baked-pizza-rolls-in-pan

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.

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!) 
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pizza-rolls-on-kids-plate
sheet pan nachos with salsa

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.

Healthy Baked Sheet Pan Nachos
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.
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healthy loaded potato nachos
quinoa fried rice in pan

Quinoa Fried Rice

Frozen and pre-cut veggies make prep for this recipe a breeze.

Shortcut Quinoa Fried Rice
Transform cooked quinoa into a really delicious skillet dinner with this shortcut Quinoa Fried Rice. You can add eggs or omit them, and add more (or less) flavor to your own bowl. See the optional toppings to customize this for each person at your table!
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quinoa fried rice in skillet

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)
  • Applesauce
  • 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.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear your feedback on these ideas, so please comment below to share!

broccoli-mac-and-cheese-in-bowls-on-counter

Easy Weeknight Dinners for Family (One-Pot Mac and Cheese)

The method on this One-Pot Mac and Cheese recipe is streamlined to cut down on dish washing. Add the optional spices for more flavor if you like! Double it to make more.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 475kcal
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 8 ounces elbow or mini shell pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces frozen broccoli or peas (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (feel free to double this to make it even cheesier)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • 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 pasta you use may alter the cooking time slightly. This recipe was tested with elbow pasta, 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.

Nutrition

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
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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