30 Kid-Friendly Weeknight Dinners
Calling all parents of picky eaters! From chicken fingers to mac and cheese to spaghetti and meatballs, there's something here for every appetite. These kid-friendly dinner recipes will make weeknight meal prep a breeze.
Chicken Fingers and Green Beans with Tahini Sauce
Chicken fingers aren't just for kids. Savory-sweet and addictive, the tahini-tomato dipping sauce offers a palate intrigue adults will love but enough flavor familiarity to keep it kid-approved.
Sausage and Tomato Mini Pizzas
If you’ve got adventurous palates in the family, punch up the flavor of these personal pizzas with a dash of red pepper flakes and briny kalamata olives. Add a veggie- forward side, like a simple salad or roasted broccoli.
These tender, buttery snack rolls are akin to cinnamon buns in structure… but they’re full-on pizza perfection in flavor. Using canned crescent roll dough and prepared marinara sauce keeps both the prep time and ingredient list short, making these cheesy, kid-friendly bites easy to whip up at a moment’s notice. Of course, you can also prep them ahead to enjoy as after-school snacks or on-the-go breakfasts throughout the week. Feel free to customize you homemade pizza rolls with your own favorite toppings.
Grilled Ham and Cheese Waffle Sandwiches
Sheet Pan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
This simple sheet pan technique allows you to make five grilled cheese sandwiches with at the same time (meaning everyone around the table gets an equally gooey and warm sandwich at the same time), and with not much more effort than it takes to prep one. We went with 4 type of cheese—goat, white cheddar, provolone, and Swiss—for these buttery, rich sheet pan grilled cheese sandwiches, but feel free to change the cheeses up depending on what you like or what you have in your fridge. You could also dress these up with a few added toppings, like spinach, basil leaves, and tomato slices—or allow folks to customize their own sandwich. Your grilled cheese, your choice.
Extra Cheesy Grilled Cheese
Love grilled cheese sandwiches? Then this recipe is for you. Spread a mixture of butter and grated Parmesan cheese on slices of Italian bread, then top with high-quality provolone and mozzarella.
Turkey Cheeseburger Sloppy Joe
Quick and Easy Nachos
This platter of goodness represents the lowest-effort end of the homemade nachos spectrum. That said, “low-effort”—by no stretch of the imagination—means a low YUM-factor here. Although this game day-perfect platter of beefy, cheesy nachos comes together quickly and relies largely on store-bought shortcuts, it delivers the classic meld of flavors and textures that you want from everyone’s favorite appetizer. For this nachos recipe, we combine the meat and nacho cheese elements to create a Ro*Tel Dip-inspired, beefy cheese sauce. This guarantees an even distribution of the hearty toppings and keeps you from having to crank up the oven. However, if you prefer melted, shredded cheese over a nacho cheese sauce, simply cook your ground beef in a skillet on the stovetop, drain, and distribute over the nachos on a sheet pan. Then, top the platter with shredded cheese and pop it under the broiler until melty and glorious (no Ro*Tel required).
Sheet Pan Beefy Nachos
If you have young kids serving themselves, lift the nachos off the pan with the parchment paper (and remove the hot pan from the table). For the creamiest nacho sauce, start with a block of cheese and shred it yourself.
Grilled Turkey and Ham Sandwiches
Update sandwich night with a hearty grilled stacker loaded with turkey, ham, veggies, and a Dijon spread.
Harissa Grilled Chicken Skewers
These skewers get a nice, long marinating time due to the low amount of lemon juice. If your marinade is loaded with vinegar or citrus, go for 30 minutes to an hour at most to ensure the best texture.
Copycat Chick-Fil-A Sandwich
Your favorite fast food sandwich just got a little bit better. Soaked in a tangy, pickle juice solution, the chicken is then dredged in flour and tossed in an egg mixture. After a hot pan sear, the chicken breasts acquire a crispy, crunchy outside, while maintaining a succulent, flavorful interior. Served with toasted buns and adorned with pickle chips, this sandwich will make you seriously wonder why you'd ever go back to the drive-thru.
Mac and Cheeseburger
Mac and cheese gets heartier, and possibly even more family-friendly, when you stir ground beef and fire-roasted tomatoes into the cheese sauce. Make sure to drain the tomatoes so the sauce doesn’t get too thin. We call for whole-grain rotini, but any short pasta shape will work here; just do try to go whole-grain for more nutrition. This budget-friendly dinner costs less than $9. If you don't have dry mustard (used for added depth), stir in a teaspoon of Dijon.
Our take on this guaranteed family favorite saves more than 200 calories, 16 grams of fat, and nearly 670 milligrams of sodium over the leading fast-food cheeseburger pizza.
If there’s anything that says grade-A comfort food better than a bacon cheeseburger-inspired bake, we don’t know what it is. This family-friendly casserole is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to serve dinner for a crowd (the recipe is easily doubled or tripled). Feel free to swap the American cheese slices for whatever type of cheese you prefer, such as cheddar or Swiss.
Copycat Panera Bread Mac and Cheese
The famously cheesy, kid-friendly side item on the Panera Bread menu has garnered popularity among customers of all ages. Now, you can enjoy the rich and saucy goodness of that white cheddar mac and cheese anytime, and in the comfort of your own kitchen. No need to crank up the oven either, this easy-to-prepare mac and cheese is made entirely on the stove top—in under thirty minutes. The cheese sauce is made with a combination of white cheddar and white American cheese that melt together to form a decadently thick and smooth sauce. We opted to use Dijon mustard instead of dried mustard for a subtle hint of spice to balance all the rich creaminess of the sauce. Even the pickiest of eaters in your family won’t be able to resist this simple mac and cheese recipe.
Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese
Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Buttermilk-Dipped Crunchy Chicken Fingers
These delicious homemade chicken fingers are perfect for a kid-friendly and easy weeknight meal.
20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas
Quick tip: While the sauce cooks, shred the chicken. For a spicy kick, top with chopped jalapeños.
Mini Bow Ties with Bacon and Peas
Finishing your peas and carrots is exponentially more exciting when bacon is involved. In fact, almost every dish is more exciting when bacon comes to play, so feel free to swap your family's favorite veggies into this versatile pasta.
Chicken Potpie Skillet Pizza
Try this quick, playful spin to turn pizza night on its head—in a good way. You get all the creamy goodness of chicken potpie, in a fun, eat-with-your-hands way that kids will love. Grown-ups will dig it, too, especially if you offer hot sauce at the table. Cooking the pizza in a preheated cast-iron skillet makes the crust wonderfully crispy so that it doesn’t sog out when the creamy sauce goes on. Be sure to use only 10 ounces of dough (though you’ll likely have to purchase in a 1-pound or larger ball); save the remaining dough to make breadsticks the next night.
Cheesy Chicken Fajitas
Chicken taco meets 7-layer dip in this fiesta of a skillet supper. You can swap in black beans or kidney beans for the pintos. For extra zest, serve with cilantro and lime wedges. Savor all the flavors of Taco Tuesday without any of the guilt. You can easily make vegetarian fajitas by removing the chicken and adding sliced zucchini, diced carrots and potatoes. Convert taco night into a buffet taco bar and let everyone build their own fajita.
Creamy Chicken Quesadillas
A creamy base helps the cheese go further and keeps the chicken moist. For a crisp exterior, coat the filled tortillas with cooking spray instead of coating the pan.
Family-Style Chicken Spaghetti
A family favorite swaps jarred sauce for fresh--which requires just a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes.
Silky Tomato Soup with White Beans and Garlic Oil
Creamy, silky tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food. We've elevated the traditional soup with the addition of white cannellini beans and toasty garlic oil. You won't miss any of the cream or calories from this dairy-free tomato soup as the texture is still silky from blending the tomato base. Serve alongside our revamped Grilled Cheese Skillet "Panini" for a meal kids and adults will all approve of. With the addition of the white beans, each serving provides 8 grams of protein making this vegetarian meal foolproof.
Turkey and Swiss Sloppy Joes
This twist on a classic sandwich swaps the sweet, barbecue-style sauce for a white sauce enriched with nutty Swiss cheese.