50 Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights—and Busier Parents

Healthy Turkey Lasagna
Photo: Southern Living

We all deal with the weeknight supper scaries every now and then. It's when you need something quick, easy, and crowd-pleasing—but you're drawing a blank and the clock is ticking. Pleasing all of the kids, plus the grown-ups, is no simple feat. With that challenge in mind, we've rounded up a collection of kid-friendly recipes that the whole family will love. With hearty options like comforting casseroles and sheet pan suppers, as well as family fun-oriented mains like meatball sliders and cheesy calzones, you're set with more than enough quick and easy dinner ideas for kids to last you all month long and then some. Read on for 50 dinner recipes for kids that even the pickiest eaters will go crazy for.

01 of 50

Homestyle Ground Beef Casserole

You've just found your new favorite ground beef recipe. Serve this noodles and beef dish with salad and garlic bread for a new family favorite.

02 of 50

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Greg DuPree

Forget about the fast-food drive-thru—this homemade recipe is way better. The chicken tenders marinate in buttermilk while you prep the rest of the menu. After soaking, dip the chicken in panko and pan-fry for a quick chicken meal that’ll make everyone happy.

03 of 50

Skillet Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Skillet Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Antonis Achilleos

This creamy recipe is so delicious that your kids won't even notice that they're eating veggies while enjoying their mac and cheese. You can use the same skillet to cook the pasta, cauliflower, and cheese sauce, and that makes this dinner a breeze to clean up.

04 of 50

Salmon Burgers with Creamy Tartar Sauce

Salmon Burgers with Creamy Tartar Sauce
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

These burgers will make even skeptical diners rethink salmon. Capers, dill, and lemon give these patties plenty of brightness. Topped with homemade tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato, they’re a fresh take on weeknight eating.

05 of 50

Healthy Turkey Lasagna

Healthy Turkey Lasagna
Southern Living

This fresh take on classic beef lasagna is a weeknight casserole the whole crew will love. Wonton wrappers take the place of lasagna noodles. Alternate a cheese-and-spinach mixture when layering the wonton wrappers for full-on flavor.

06 of 50

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

This easy slow cooker recipe is the only one you need for Taco Tuesday. Start this in the morning, and you’ll be ready to top your tacos by dinnertime.

07 of 50

Chicken Spaghetti

Easy Chicken Spaghetti
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Say hello to your new favorite chicken casserole. This chicken and spaghetti dish is loaded with vegetables. Use tongs to neatly twirl the pasta for pretty weeknight servings.

08 of 50

BBQ Pork Loaded Baked Potatoes

BBQ Pork Loaded Baked Potatoes
Greg DuPree

A top-your-own potato bar makes dinnertime a little more fun for the kiddos. Vegetables, corn chips, cheese, slaw, and sauce let everyone create unique combinations.

09 of 50

Cheesy Potato Soup with Bacon

Creamy Cheddar-Potato Soup with Bacon
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Christina Lane; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Like a loaded baked potato, but in soup form. This recipe feeds a crowd, freezes well, and comes together in a Dutch oven.

10 of 50

Southwest Chicken Cutlet Rice Bowl

Southwest Chicken Cutlet Rice Bowl
Greg DuPree

Season the chicken cutlets with the Southwest dry rub and then refrigerate overnight. For dinner the next day, they’ll cook up quickly. Add microwaveable rice, chiles, corn, and seasonings for a bowl that’s high on taste.

11 of 50

Beef Stew with Cheddar Biscuits

Beef Stew with Cheddar Biscuits
Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

We wouldn't dream of topping hearty skillet beef stew with anything other than cheddar biscuits. Now, you won't either.

12 of 50

Beefy Baked Ravioli with Spinach and Cheese

Cheesy Beef-and-Spinach Ravioli
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This quick dish starts with your preferred ravioli from the refrigerated section. Switch up the flavor by swapping ground chicken or turkey for the beef and using Swiss chard in place of the spinach.

13 of 50

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breasts

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breasts
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

They'll love this recipe just as much as chicken tenders, guaranteed. As an added bonus, the sauce for the chicken and potatoes can double as a salad dressing.

14 of 50

Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce

Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce
Hector Manuel Sanchez

What kid will turn down a fun meatball slider? Whipping it up in a slow cooker makes it fun for you, too.

15 of 50

Old-Fashioned Chicken And Dumplings

Old-Fashioned Chicken And Dumplings
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

If this classic Southern dish hasn't made an appearance on your Sunday supper table, we highly recommend it. This recipe uses buttermilk to give the dumplings a light texture. The flour from kneading the dough helps thicken the broth.

16 of 50

Oven-Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

Oven-Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

Your whole meal comes together in a sheet pan. Need we say more? It's a new meat-and-potatoes classic.

17 of 50

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Bacon

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Bacon
Callie Nash

Don't let the name fool you—this grilled cheese is extremely easy and as kid-friendly as it gets. The magic touch: Bacon.

18 of 50

Ham and Noodle Casserole

Ham and Noodle Casserole
Jen Causey

You won't meet a more crowd-pleasing casserole than this one, made with egg noodles, chopped ham, and a mix of springy vegetables. This is a great way to use up leftover ham. Chive-and-onion cream cheese is the secret ingredient that boosts the flavor of this dish.

19 of 50

White Calzones with Marinara Sauce

White Cheese Calzones with Marinara Sauce
Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Calzones feel oh-so special when the kids can fill and fold their own! A good homemade or farmer’s market ricotta really makes a difference in this recipe.

20 of 50

Chicken Bog

Chicken Bog
Greg DuPree

This is the best old-fashioned recipe that you might not have ever heard of. It's hard to go wrong with a delicious pot full of chicken and rice.

21 of 50

Sloppy Cola Joe Dogs

Sloppy Cola Joe Dogs
Melina Hammer

Two kid-friendly favorites—Sloppy Joes and hot dogs—come together in a no-fuss family dinner. Cola adds a fun twist.

22 of 50

Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Roasted Tomato-Cheddar Soup
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Cindy Barr; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

May we suggest pairing this perfect tomato soup with the aforementioned bacon-laden grilled cheese recipe? It's the perfect weeknight duo.

23 of 50

Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches

Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Buttery biscuits, creamy white barbecue sauce, and slow-cooked chicken make this recipe a next-level supper in our book. For the kiddos, slaw optional.

24 of 50

Pork Chops with Dijon-Buttermilk Sauce

Fontina-Stuffed Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes
Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

A tangy Dijon-buttermilk pan sauce helps keep these skillet pork chops from drying out. These pork chops start with a quick sear on the stovetop and finish in the oven. Served on a bed of egg noodles, this comforting meal will be a weeknight game changer.

25 of 50

Quick and Easy Spaghetti Bolognese

Quick and Easy Spaghetti Bolognese
Greg DuPree

Consider this recipe a Mama-approved makeover of a quality jarred pasta sauce and box of pasta. Even better, this recipe comes in hot in under 30 minutes.

26 of 50

Potato-Crusted Pizza

Potato Crusted Pizza
Alison Miksch

Why not surprise the kids with a creation that combines some of their favorite foods? This pizza is built on a crisp crust of shredded potato rounds.

27 of 50

Molasses-Soy Glazed Salmon and Vegetables

Molasses-Soy Glazed Salmon and Vegetables
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food styling: Karen Rankin

A quick meal that’s healthy and delicious? Sign us up! Tangy glazed salmon and vegetables cook together on a sheet pan. Serve with brown rice to soak up the molasses-soy sauce.

28 of 50

Chicken-Bacon Ranch Casserole

Chicken-Bacon Ranch Casserole
Alison Miksch

What’s not to love in this creamy casserole that has all the family favorites? Ranch, chicken, and bacon star in this pasta dinner that bakes up bubbly and golden in 20 minutes. This dish reheats well for leftovers the next day.

29 of 50

Greek Pork Chops with Squash and Potatoes

Greek Pork Chops with Squash and Potatoes
Photo: Hector Sanchez

This might be one of our favorite meat-and-potatoes dinners ever. Everything cooks on one sheet pan, making cooking and cleanup quick and easy.

30 of 50

Burrito Bowls

Burrito Bowls Recipe
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Keep Taco Tuesday on its toes by making these burrito bowls instead. This recipe is full of customizable ingredients, so every child gets exactly what he or she likes.

31 of 50

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry

Skillet Pot Pie with Chicken and Spring Vegetables
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Treat the family to a classic dish reinvented in a user-friendly skillet. A puff pastry topping means you’ll spend less time making this dinner so you can relax—or tackle homework—before the meal.

32 of 50

Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich

Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

These ingredients hit the trifecta of flavor. A sandwich filled with roasted turkey, hot pepper jelly, and brie will be the leftovers you crave.

33 of 50

King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese

King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese
Becky Luigart-Stayner

This isn't your everyday macaroni and cheese—it's so much better. Rotisserie chicken and canned soup turn this casserole into a quick, comforting, and welcome weeknight meal.

34 of 50

Sloppy Joe Casserole with Dinner Rolls

Sloppy Joe Casserole with Dinner Rolls
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Rishon Hanners, Prop Stylist Heather Chadduck

The favorite sloppy meal just got a makeover, and you can eat this version with a fork. Mix in mustard and pickle relish to the filling, and top with cheese and rolls. This will be your go-to way to make sloppy joes.

35 of 50

Chicken Parmesan Pizza

Chicken Parmesan Pizza
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Buffy Hargett

These quick pizzas are short on time, but they deliver on flavor thanks to a garlic bread crust. Fried chicken strips and an Italian cheese blend make these easy to put together on busy evenings. Serve with a tossed salad for an easy side.

36 of 50

Skillet Enchiladas Suizas

Skillet Enchiladas Suizas
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Enchiladas may seem like too much work on a weeknight, but this recipe requires no filling or rolling. All of the ingredients are cooked in one skillet. Set out a topping bar with avocado, cilantro, radishes, cheese, and jalapeños, and let everyone top this chicken enchilada casserole how they choose.

37 of 50

Sheet Pan Nachos with Chorizo and Refried Beans

Sheet Pan Nachos with Chorizo and Refried Beans
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

These spicy, meaty nachos are sure to be a frequent request. Don’t skip the step of mixing the salsa and beans together. This mixture helps keep the other toppings in place when you cook the nachos.

38 of 50

Easy Taco Casserole

Easy Taco Casserole

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Maggie Ruggiero

Switch up taco night with this cozy casserole. While the meat, beans, tortillas, and cheese bake together in one dish, there’s time to set up a topping bar. With lettuce, pico de gallo, and onion, each family member gets what they want.

39 of 50

Pizza Spaghetti Casserole

Pizza Spaghetti Casserole
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Add in your favorite pizza toppings to this spaghetti dish for a fun dinner that’s a real family pleaser. You can make this ahead and freeze it for a week when your schedule is full. Just thaw overnight, and let stand at room temperature before baking.

40 of 50

Chicken Tamale Pie

Chicken Tamale Pie
Antonis Achilleos

Corn muffins are the base for this one-skillet pie. Spoon spicy chicken, corn, and vegetables over the base, top with cheese, and broil till golden and bubbly.

41 of 50

One-Pan Hot Honey Chicken and Rice

One-Pan Hot Honey Chicken
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Comforting chicken and rice gets a kick from a honey-chile sauce, and it will make you rethink your usual recipe. This meal cooks in one skillet, and chicken thighs make it budget-friendly. If you have leftovers, you can repurpose this meal into fried rice later in the week.

42 of 50

Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole
Micah A. Leal

There’s a lot to like in this casserole that rounds up so many comforting ingredients, like ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and chiles. Cheese and sour cream add creaminess. Tater tots create an incredibly crispy topping.

43 of 50

Uncle Jack's Mac-and-Cheese

Uncle Jack’s Mac-and-Cheese
Hector Sanchez

Macaroni and cheese is always a hit, and this creamy, cheesy version is no exception. Instead of baking in the oven, this recipe cooks in the slow cooker so it’s ready to serve after a long day.

44 of 50

Ground Beef Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi

Ground Beef Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Maggie Ruggiero

When dinner calls for a hearty soup, this vegetable-beef recipe is your answer. Fill it with fresh vegetables like green beans, spinach, and zucchini, ground beef, and a tomato broth. Add gnocchi during the last few minutes of cooking, and top with Parmesan cheese.

45 of 50

Easy Steak Fajitas

Easy Steak Fajitas
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

When a fajita craving strikes, you don’t need to order from a restaurant. Cooking them at home is easy thanks to prepared seasoning and a container of fresh-cut peppers and onions from your grocery store. Set out cilantro, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream for topping.

46 of 50

Creamy Pesto-and-Shrimp Penne with Peas

Creamy Pesto-and-Shrimp Penne with Peas
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This dish looks like a special occasion meal, but it takes minutes to prepare using frozen foods and pantry staples. With pre-peeled shrimp, frozen peas, and store-bought pesto, you can have this pasta dinner ready in no time. Reserved pasta cooking water is the key to the creamy sauce.

47 of 50

Oven-Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Oven-Baked Chicken Drumsticks
Antonis Achilleos

Simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary, there’s little hands-on time needed for this easy chicken dinner. Roasting the drumsticks on a wire rack creates a crispy skin. Serve with a side salad for an easy complete meal.

48 of 50

Ham-and-Vegetable Cobbler

Ham-and-Vegetable Cobbler
Iain Bagwell

When you need a filling, satisfying weeknight meal, this cobbler is the recipe to have on hand. Fill it with cooked ham and whatever frozen vegetables you have available. A refrigerated pie crust makes this dish the rival of any pot pie recipe.

49 of 50

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna Recipe
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christine Kelly; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee

Lasagna on a weeknight? This spin makes it possible in under 30 minutes. Everything you love about lasagna comes together without the labor, using refrigerated cheese ravioli, jarred marinara, sausage, and cheese.

50 of 50

Pimiento Cheese Chicken-Broccoli Casserole

Pimiento Cheese Chicken-Broccoli Casserole
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Casseroles are the ultimate easy weeknight dinner. Rotisserie chicken, fresh broccoli, and whole-grain pasta make this bake lighter than some casseroles. But pimiento cheese means this recipe doesn’t skimp on taste.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles