Eight Easy Dinner Ideas (That Your Kids Will Love)!

Husband, wife, young daughter, grandmother and grandfather sitting down to a happy family meal

Meal planning, and especially coming up with easy dinner ideas, has always been my kryptonite. Planning healthy, creative dishes that all of the family will eat is not an easy task (as all parents know). As my two kids get older (and blessedly less picky), I find that planning family meals and coming up with new recipes and dinner ideas is getting easier. However, I still have those nights when my mind just completely draws a blank about what to make.

Since studies show how important it is to sit down to family meals as often as possible, I am always looking for ways to make this process easier. And it’s my passion to share my ideas and knowledge with you!

Read below for some quick, easy dinner ideas (along with my favorite ingredients) that you and your kids can make together. And p.s., I hope this helps take some of the meal planning stress away!

Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

I could probably serve spaghetti every single night of the week and my kids would gobble it up. Since my children both have dietary constraints, I am always looking for ways to make this meal as nutrient and protein-rich as possible!

Put a healthy spin:

  • Use protein, veggie, or whole grain pasta with a low sugar and/or low sodium sauce.
  • My go to (that my kids also love) is protein pasta (Barilla is our favorite). Sometimes I can also get away with using chickpea pasta (we use Banza mostly) as well.
  • If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can blend in some veggies like red pepper into the sauce.
  • Swap out red meat for lean ground turkey, chicken, or Impossible ground meat (this is my favorite) or other brand of meatless meat.

My favorite brands:

  • Barilla protein or whole grain pasta
  • Banza chickpea pasta
  • Jennie-O lean ground turkey
  • Impossible plant-based meat

Kid-friendly tips:

  • I never combine the sauce with the pasta. My kids love to mix the exact amount of sauce they want with their pasta.
  • I also let my kids put their own parmesan cheese on so that they can control the amount that they like.

Wraps

I like wraps because I don’t have to cook anything. I save this meal for nights when I just need to scramble something together quickly.

Put a healthy spin:

  • Use low-carb and/or whole wheat or high-fiber tortillas
  • Choose low-fat beans
  • Use low-fat cream cheese or sliced cheese
  • Throw in some veggies like leafy greens or red or green peppers

My favorite brands:

  • I love Mission & La Tortilla Factory low-carb & whole wheat tortillas
  • I try to use nitrate / nitrite-free sliced turkey (Oscar Meyer makes a good one)

Kid-friendly Tips:

  • Put out all of the ingredients on the counter and let your kids assemble their own wraps
  • If your kids are like mine and they prefer their wrap plain, encourage them to still load up on veggies on the side like carrots and cucumbers

Salad Bar

I’m not gonna lie. I got this easy dinner idea from my sister who told me to try making a salad bar. I tried it and my kids absolutely LOVE it. I know it’s not anything that revolutionary. It’s almost too simple of an idea. The whole point is letting your kids choose items and feeling invested in their meal.

Put a healthy spin:

  • In addition to fun items like croutons, pasta, and meat, I also put out lots of veggies and fruits and even nuts. The kids love the variety of ingredients!

My favorite brands

  • Hidden Valley low-fat ranch dressing
  • Newman’s Own Light Balsamic dressing

Kid-Friendly Tips:

  • Similar to the wraps, put out all of the ingredients on the counter and let your kids assemble their own salads
  • Offer different types of dressings and dips so that they can find one they like

Baked Potato Bar

I know this is crazy simple. But sometimes the most simple ideas are the ones we never think of.

Put a healthy spin:

  • Swapping a sweet potato for a baked potato adds lots of nutrients and fiber
  • You can use low-fat shredded cheese and either turkey bacon or crumbled vegan bacon
  • Add a low-fat, low-sodium chili on top to add protein

My favorite brands

  • Amy’s organic chili
  • Trader Joe’s organic veggie chili

Kid-friendly tips

  • Kids will have lots of fun putting their own toppings on their potatoes!

Black Beans and Rice

I have a healthy obsession with black beans. I cannot say enough good things about them. They are packed with fiber and nutrients, not to mention the fact that they are crazy cheap. And they are liked by most picky eaters!

I’ll put out a bowl of black beans (you can have your kids help you season them) and make some rice to go along with them. I sometimes use brown basmati rice or just brown rice, or I’ll make some Mexican rice sometimes as well.

Chips and salsa can help round out this simple dinner and make it more festive!

My favorite brands

  • Any organic or low-sodium black beans will do!
  • I usually get the 90-second microwavable brown rice

Kid-friendly tips

  • Let your kids season their own beans so that they can have just the right amount of spice.

Roasted Chicken and Something Else

Roasted chicken is one of the staples in our family diet. And let me just start off by saying I do not roast the chicken myself. You can obviously roast the chicken yourself. But for the rest of us, I would recommend just picking up an already roasted chicken.

If you have a Costco membership or a nice friend with a membership, you can take advantage of their delicious and cheap roasted chicken. However, I will usually just stop at Boston Market or even run through the drive thru at El Pollo Loco and get their half or whole chicken and make a veggie on the side to go with it.

My favorite brands

  • Costco
  • Boston Market
  • Chicken Dijon
  • Chicken Maison
  • El Pollo Loco

Kid-friendly tips

  • For picky eaters, keep the rice and chicken separate.

Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

I love this recipe because one, my kids also love it, and two, it’s easy to make and relatively healthy. You can obviously swap in vegan or veggie burgers or whatever kind of burger you want. I just grill the burgers from frozen on the stove in a frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and I bake the fries in the oven.

My favorite brands

  • Jennie-O seasoned turkey burgers
  • Alexia frozen sweet potato fries

Kid-friendly tips

  • If your kids aren’t crazy about sweet potato fries, try it in a different form like puffs or waffle fries.

Ground Turkey or Black Bean Tacos

This recipe is another staple in our diet. The only tricky part is my daughter who does not like tacos. Like, at all. So for her I will put aside some ground turkey and season it with a little salt and make sort of a deconstructed taco with ground turkey, black beans, and some veggies like frozen corn or some carrot sticks.

My favorite brands

  • Jenny-O lean ground turkey
  • Ortega yellow corn crunchy taco shells

Kid-friendly tips

  • Keep some ground turkey unseasoned if your kiddos don’t like spice. For my daughter who is not a taco fan, I make her a deconstructed taco and keep all the ingredients separate.

Hopefully this article gives you some new, easy dinner ideas to try. If you’ve got some other simple go-to dinner recipes you want to share, please leave them in the comments!

  • Lee Cristina Beaser

    MS, Founder - The Career Counter

    Drawing on her experience as a busy mom, Lee designs custom printable home planners to streamline routines and improve organization. Through The Career Counter, she empowers mothers to achieve balanced and productive daily lives.

    Our Founder has over 20 years of experience helping people like you

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