Welcome to our final 25 recipes in the 4 part series for the Ultimate Guide to Easy Family-Friendly Weeknight Meals. Filled with more ways to feed your family on those busy weeknights. Also, at the very bottom of the post, you’ll find 5 tips to keeping it easy even when using you’re own recipes.
Enjoy, get inspired, and get cooking!
1. Newbury Street Nutrition – Chinese Chicken Salad
Now here is an easy and healthy meal everyone will love. Everything just gets thrown in the bowl and tossed. This should only take you 10-15 minutes tops to prepare and serve. It uses cooked wild rice which always makes life easier. I typically make extra rice whenever I am making it and put a bowl in the refrigerator so I always have some on hand as well. You can make anything with rice!
2. Go Meals Go – Hamburger Mac Soup with Mixed Vegetables
Oh yum. Anything that includes hamburger and mac sounds good to me and pasta is always a good go to meal especially with the kids. The author mixes some vegetables in there to keep it healthy as well as easy.
3. Newbury Street Nutrition – Healthy Pizza Bagel
We all love pizza and usually it’s delivered or popped in the oven from the freezer. These types of pizzas while filling are usually not very good for you and they are costly. With this recipe you will feel good about serving the family pizza. Uses a whole wheat bagel, low fat cheese and a low sodium pizza sauce. This can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes! Always be sure to save that left over meat from your last chicken dish or “whatever” dish and switch it up.
4. MommyHiker.com – Healthy and Hearty Red Lentil Soup
Most people think of soup in the winter but I always feel it is something you can enjoy all year around. It’s also extremely easy and packed with flavor and nutrients. This recipe has it all. It’s easy, hearty, flavorful and nutritious. Enough said, now enjoy!
5. Newbury Street Nutrition – Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Recipe
Quinoa is one of those very healthy and light grains that can be used in all sorts of dishes. It’s also packed with protein, looks like couscous, is as versatile as rice and tastes good on it’s own or using any recipe. Why not try it out with broccoli and cheese which I usually see with rice or pasta? Your family will love it and have no idea how good it is for them!
6. Food Network – Roasted Peach and Blackberry Smoothie
Here is a healthy and easy recipe from Bobby Flay. I love the idea of roasting the fruit to get a more intense, caramelized, and juicy flavor out of them. You can even roast these the night before and have on hand to create a tasty smoothie anytime on the go. Everyone will be asking for these again and again. Who needs ice cream when you can have sweet treats that are also better for you?
7. Food Network – Wild Arugula and Chickpea Salad
It doesn’t get any easier than this lovely and fresh tossed salad. Chop and slice what you need, throw in a bowl, toss and top with shaved Parmesan for a beautiful finishing touch. This will take 15 minutes and if you want to add protein feel free to include whatever you have on hand…I can see chicken, tuna or even some thinly sliced beef going very well with these flavors. Whatever you use I think it should be grilled. Grilled and fresh just go together so well.
8. Beef Loving Texans – Asian Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry
Everyone loves a good stir fry so here is one that you will be able to throw together in 30 minutes or less and it doesn’t skimp on the flavor. It has everything! My special touch would be to use toasted sesame seeds instead of peanuts and add a little toasted sesame oil to bring out more of a smokey flavor. Get your stir fry on!
9. MommyHiker.com – Sesame Soba Noodle Salad
I’ve never used buckwheat soba noodles or even heard of them until I saw this recipe. I tried them out along with this recipe and everyone including my 18 month old loved it. The buckwheat noodles are packed with unique amino acids, vitamins and minerals compared to plain soba noodles. Add some chicken or tofu to make it a little more filling. This cooks up in 10 minutes flat but maybe a little longer depending on if you add a protein. Keep it easy and dice up chicken, beef, pork or tofu. The smaller you dice, the faster it will cook.
12. MommyHiker.com – Rosemary Carrot and Apple Hash
A hearty and flavorful side dish that can also be used for a more refined brunch and side dish. The author paired this with broiled salmon and stated everyone loved it. It’s so easy you’ll start making it to pair with all sorts of things. I love the addition of apples to give it a sweet and salty aspect. Hash seems to be a new craze. I never had it as a kid other than good old hash brown potatoes but your kids should. It’s good to try new things!
13. FlavorBombs – Grilled Sausage and Roasted Pepper Panini
Who’s not on board with sausage and roaster peppers put between two pieces of toasted bread and smothered in cheese? I know I’m all for it! Use the Onion and Garlic Soffritto FLAVOR BOMB and thin it out with a little olive oil for an amazing spread on the bread and use any cheese you want. That’s they beauty in paninis – you can make them your own and they’re easy and quick!
14. Mel’s Kitchen – Mediterranean Pork with Couscous
This recipe may take a while but it requires almost no work from you. The slow cooker does all the work. Get it ready the night before and leave it in the fridge. In the morning take it out, turn the slow cooker on to cook for 7-8 hours and by the time you get home or dinner time arrives you have a delicious and tasty meal everyone will love. Couscous cooks up so fast and is as easy as pasta. So enjoy and let your slow cooker do most of the work. Anything that slow cooks allows the blending of flavors and tenderizes the meat.
I made this dish a few weeks ago when my Mom came to visit. She’s a vegetarian and I thought what a great way to stuff peppers. She loved stuffed green peppers when she ate meat but that would no longer work. With this recipe, I roasted my peppers after they were stuffed in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the edges started to get brown. This made the recipe take a little longer but I liked more of a subtle roasted flavor from the peppers – plus roasting makes them softer and easier to eat. I also added low fat feta cheese to the mix for some gooey and salty goodness. This dish was so simple and so delicious I will be making it again and again. Everyone absolutely loved it especially Mom. It also looked so pretty to serve with the little tops on. Like a tasty gift ready to be opened.
16. Lisa’s Dinnertime – Buffalo Chicken Wraps
Now here is a wonderful meal in a snap. Much healthier than going out to eat as well. I love buffalo chicken and the flavors that go with it, but when you’re out you typically get fried chicken strips and high fat dressing/sauce with french fries. That’s okay every now and again but why not have a lighter version that is also super easy and you can make at home? Plus, the spinach is so much better for you than typical iceberg lettuce. Use some light ranch or blue cheese to accompany.
17. Jessica Weilble Blog – Chicken Tamale Casserole
The caption on Pinterest says it all; “easy weeknight dinner the kids will love”. Always what I look for when I’m surfing the net for a new recipe to put together for hubby and my daughter. This can even be made the day before or earlier in the day. Reheats very well. The kids will love the cornbread because what kid doesn’t love cornbread and all the yummy melted cheese and chicken. Sure win.
18. Oh She Glows – Crispy Breaded Tofu Strips & Sweet Potato Fries
This is a recipe for my vegetarian friends out there and for those that just want to try something new and wonder what can be done with that dreaded but healthy tofu. I love the addition of warm and spicy seasonings in both the tofu and sweet potato fries. The author stated she just dips them in ketchup but I can see it going great with a southwest Greek yogurt dip or ranch dressing as well. Be as creative as you want.
19. Flaring Recipes – Braised Lamb Shanks
Ever think lamb shanks and braising was difficult? Well, braising just means you cook your meat in a seasoned liquid low and slow to tenderize the meat and infuse all the flavors. It takes a while but it’s so easy because your oven does all the work. Lamb is one of my all time favorite meats. I love the delicate yet bold flavor of lamb and how well it pairs with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. Try this out and let your oven do all the work while you maybe read a good book or watch those shows you saved eons ago in your DVR. Prepare with some roasted carrots and potatoes that includes rosemary and thyme to tie the entire dish together. You won’t be disappointed! It’s also a great meal to pair with your favorite red wine – perfect for an easy weeknight date night!
20. Everyday Reading – Thai Green Curry Meatballs
This recipe uses some out of the box ingredients but they all should be easy to find at your local grocery store. If you can’t find Thai Green Curry then substitute regular curry instead. Will be a little different but still delicious. I always love experimenting with different and exotic ingredients especially to keep my little one’s palate diversified and open to new flavors and textures. She loves just about everything so I must be doing something right. Serve this up with some plain white rice or Asian noodles to complete the meal.
21. Food52 – Chicken Breast with Fresh Sage
I’m always looking for easy and quick ways to prepare chicken breast. Let’s face it – we always pick up a package or have it on hand. So many things you can do with it and everyone loves chicken. Sage is one of those herbs that I find to be so fragrant and has a beautiful flavor. The lemon gives it flavor and helps tenderize the meat. Chicken breast can dry out easily so the quick 30 minute marinade will help – but be sure to cover with tin foil as the recipe suggests once you pop it in the oven. What to serve up with this masterpiece? Well, I suggest some lemon and garlic green beans, a lemon, sage and Parmesan risotto or roasted herb potatoes. The lemon and fresh herbs will pair perfectly with the succulent flavors in the chicken.
22. Food52 – Maple-Cardamom Glazed Salmon
If you have read other posts of mine, you may have read that my daughter loves salmon filets. She has loved them since she was about 8 months old when I first introduced them to her. She can polish off an entire filet all by herself and sometimes still goes after bites of mine when she’s done. Here is an easy recipe that caught my attention because the caption read “Mix spices with syrup. Brush on fish. Put in oven. The end.” I love the addition of maple syrup here and do not use cardamom nearly as often as I should. Can’t wait to see how much my little one loves this salmon!
23. Home Beccanomics – Creamy Dijon Chicken
Now here is a simple recipe that is also low fat and low calorie and extremely nutritious. Serve it up with some seasoned brown rice and steamed broccoli. Total prep and cook time is only 20 minutes tops including the sides! I would use chicken tenders over chicken breast though. The tenders are smaller, tend to be cheaper, easier to cut up and cook even faster.
24. Nestle Kitchens – Linguine Caprese
This recipe can be cooked up and ready to serve in minutes. It also has those beautiful and fresh flavors that remind me of summer. I really don’t think there is a better Italian combo than sweet basil, ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Put all those with some good old linguine and the family will sit around the table happy, full, and with lots of compliments to the chef. Plus, you can go for that walk or bike ride before or after dinner because it was so quick and easy to make. What more can you ask for?
25. Big Girls Small Kitchen – Steak and Quinoa Fried Rice with Eggplant & Green Beans
I’ve made a beef fried rice for my husband since we first moved in together. I can’t say it was totally easy or healthy. He loved it but I always thought it was a little lacking in flavor and so incredible high in fat and calories. When I saw this recipe I was hooked. Not only does it use my new favorite grain, quinoa, it is loaded with healthy veggies like eggplant and green beans. My daughter always eats them when they are smothered in meat and other things she likes. Yes, she loves quinoa. The recipe calls for grapeseed or safflower oil which may not be easy to find. I would go with good old olive oil or some toasted sesame oil to add another layer of nutty smokiness.
Now that we have given you the Ultimate Guide in 4 parts for Easy Family-Friendly Weeknight Meals get out there and be inspired to try new things and cook for the family. Sitting around the table connecting and talking over amazing meals is a tradition that has carried on since the dawn of man. Keep up the tradition and fun with the entire family.
Also, below are 5 tips for keeping your meals easy, quick and family-friendly.
1. Use smaller size meats such as chicken tenderloin, boneless thighs, butterflied pork chops, and smaller cuts of steak. These will always cook up in 30 minutes or less.
2. Use that crock pot while you are at work, taking care of the kiddos, or running errands. It’s easy to throw it all in, turn it on, and walk away for hours. It’s ready when you are. Easy, breezy and delicious!
3. Pasta, rice, quinoa, and couscous are always a great go to meal that cook up fast and easy. They are versatile as well, so you can throw whatever you have on hand into the dish and make it wonderful.
4. Be sure to thaw any meats the night before, so when you get home and are ready to cook, so is your meat!
5. Try some vegetarian options. Most cook up way easier than any meat dish you can find.
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