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.
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.
Ready in: 15 minutes
Why we love it: A Sunday-worthy steak on a weeknight? Yes, please! This saucy quick-cooking steak is ready in just a few minutes, and just needs a simple side of mashed potatoes, root vegetables or salad to complete the meal.
How kids can help: While the steak is sizzling, your kid can work on the side dish—either mashing the boiled potatoes with milk and butter or washing and dressing the salad. (Hey, if they toss the salad themselves, they might even eat it!)
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!
Ready in: 10 minutes
Why we love it: You read that right: only 10 minutes! Keep a stash of shrimp in the freezer at all times because they’re quick to cook, simple to season and, with an easy side of veg or carbs, your easy weeknight dinner is done in no time at all. This recipe bursts with the bright flavours of thyme, rosemary and parsley in a garlicky, buttery, lemon broth. Serve over rice, pasta, grits—or even a thick slice of crusty bread.
How kids can help: Why spend a few precious seconds mincing parsley when your kid could be occupied for many minutes tearing it into tiny little pieces for you? Just make sure those little hands are well washed!
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.
Ready in: 30 minutes
Why we love it: If you’re looking for the best weeknight chicken dinner ideas, look no further than this chicken thigh recipe. It’s all about the sweet and sticky Thai chili marinade that’s finger-licking good for kids and grownups alike. (The brown sugar helps tone down any spice, but you can play with the proportions to keep it on the mild side.)
How kids can help: This chicken marinade is so easy that your kids can mix it up by themselves. If they’re older, they can even measure out the ingredients, including sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and sriracha. If they’re younger, you might want to pre-measure for them.
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.
Ready in: 25 minutes
Why we love it: The best thing about this weeknight dinner idea is that you don’t actually need a recipe to make it. Tray bakes, A.K.A. sheet-pan dinners, couldn’t be easier. You simply lay the ingredients out with olive oil and spices and let a little oven time do all the work for you (there’s also less to wash afterwards!). Fish is especially great on a weeknight because it cooks so quickly.
How kids can help: With the right kid-safe kitchen gear, your little one can wash and even help chop the veggies. They can also have fun snapping off the woody ends of the asparagus stems before cooking.
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