Kid-friendly weeknight dinners

Can we all agree that the stress of finding kid-friendly weeknight dinner ideas needs to go? Especially as normal routines return and the weeks get busier and busier.

You might not always have a neat and tidy meal plan (we’re looking at you, super-organized spreadsheet people!) but you can still knock out some great weeknight dinner recipes on a tight schedule.

From make-ahead meals to one-pot wonders and dinners-that-become-lunches, these quick and easy weeknight dinner ideas can be on the table in under 30 minutes, flat. Bonus: We’ve got tips for how your little ones can help out in the kitchen without any major slowdowns.

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roasted red pepper pasta

Ready in: 25 minutes

Why we love it: We’re all about a clever shortcut for a weeknight dinner idea, especially when the kids are overtired, hangry and clamouring for attention. The secret ingredient of this delightfully sweet and savoury recipe is a can of good ol’ Campbell’s soup for the base—and we’re not ashamed to admit it.

How kids can help: When preparing the sauce, kids can add the canned soup, broth, peppers, mozzarella and herbs and stir it all up on the stove—under supervision, of course.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
This kid-friendly weeknight dinner idea comes together in under half an hour, but if you’re really crunched for time, you can cook the pasta and brown the chicken and onion in advance.

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Pan fried steak

Ready in: 20 minutes

Why we love it: A Sunday-dinner-worthy steak quick enough for a weeknight? Sign us up! The balsamic vinegar and cayenne pepper give this striploin a little tang and heat. Just add a side salad and dinner is done.

How kids can help: While the steak is sizzling in the pan, ask your kid to help wash, chop, dress and toss the salad. (If they make it themselves, they might even eat it, right?)

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
The eye of round steak in this weeknight dinner recipe is one of the leanest cuts of beef you can get with only about 130 calories (and 23 grams of protein!) per four-ounce serving[1]. (If your picky eater will only go for beef that’s ground, try these super easy ground beef recipes instead.)

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Egg, ground beef, and tomatoes on a tortilla served on a wooden cutting board with lime and pepper garnish

Ready in: 20 minutes

Why we love it: This Taco Tuesday recipe takes breakfast-for-dinner ideas to a whole new level. If your kid doesn’t enjoy oozy yolks as much as you do, just scramble the eggs—it’ll still be delicious. Garlicky beans, diced tomatoes, crumbly cheese and a squeeze of lime round out all our favourite Mexican-inspired ingredients.

How kids can help: This easy weeknight dinner recipe is quick to prepare, but you can always use an extra pair of hands to plate all of the toppings (the more the merrier!) for a fun, kid-friendly taco spread. Plus, getting the kids involved in meal prep now will save you time down the line!

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TIME-SAVING TIP
This meal can be on the table in 20 minutes start to finish, but if you want to minimize the prep time even more, you can dice the tomatoes, crumble the cheese and simmer the beans with the spices in advance.

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Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: One of our favourite twists on Taco Tuesday, this recipe is like a fresh taste of summer year-round. It’s also the perfect way to use up stashes of frozen shrimp.

How kids can help: Kids can mix up the marinade ingredients, help toss the shrimp and brush the pineapple and onion before they go on the grill.

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BUDGET WATCH
Seafood may be more expensive than other types of protein, but shrimp is often surprisingly affordable—especially if you buy it frozen. It also freezes well, so stock up when you find it on special.

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Heart-shaped margherita pizzas served on a wooden cutting board.

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: Every night is a good night for pizza, especially when you need a quick and easy dinner that’s kid-friendly. Goat cheese and fresh mint lend a fresh twist on the classic family favourite—but if you prefer mozzarella and basil, there’s no need to mess with a sure thing.

How kids can help: Kids love making their own pies, so let them go all out with their favourite toppings. If you have time to make the dough from scratch, they’ll also love getting their hands in there to knead it and roll it out. It feels even better than Play-Doh.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Want to skip the pizza dough? Keep a pack of mini naans in the freezer for emergency weeknight dinner ideas. They make delicious pizza crusts.

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coconut chicken fingers

Ready in: 28 minutes

Why we love it: Adored by kids and adults alike, these baked chicken fingers are beyond crunchy. They have just the right balance of sweet, tangy and slightly spicy flavour.

How kids can help: Dredge, dip, repeat. There’s no better time to teach your little one the art of a crispy coating while they get their hands messy.

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Creamy cauliflower soup served in a pale green bowl with baguettes.

Ready in: 14 minutes

Why we love it: This creamy and comforting soup is ready in under 15 minutes so you can speed up dinner and maybe even have a fighting chance at getting the kids to bed on time.

How kids can help: Your kid can basically make this easy weeknight dinner recipe all on their own—and you can be the hero for letting them. You simply stir milk or broth into the frozen mashed cauliflower, microwave it and then garnish with parm and herbs.

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
This recipe calls for Green Giant Garlic and Herb Mashed Cauliflower, which has one full serving of cauli per portion—no potato, so it’s a great low-carb option. You can also feel good knowing it’s free of artificial flavours and preservatives.

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Ready in: 17 minutes

Why we love it: This saucy salmon made with maple syrup and sharp mustard is ready in under 20 minutes. You just need a simple side of rice, roasted veggies or salad to complete the meal.

How kids can help: The marinade is so easy, even a little kid can make it. Simply stir together margarine, maple syrup, mustard and soy sauce.

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BUDGET WATCH
Just because a recipe calls for a specific type of fish such as salmon doesn’t mean you have to stick with that. See what your fish market or grocery store has on special—and go for something that has similar characteristics. For example, salmon is a fatty and full-flavoured fish, so trout or arctic char[2] would make a great swap.

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