Do you need some simple dinner ideas for family meals? Finding time to get home-cooked healthy meals on the table is not always an easy task. It can be pretty hard sometimes, considering we must do it night after night! Most of us juggle multiple responsibilities during the week, from work, kids activities, personal commitments, and time with friends and family. Even with the best of intentions, our plans to get a healthy meal on the table that everyone will eat can often fall short.
Sometimes, it is a function of not having a plan. If meal planning is a challenge for you, we have many resources on our site you can take advantage of. We suggest you start here.
However, even with the best meal plan, even if it is posted on the fridge and you have all the ingredients in the kitchen, sometimes what you planned just isn’t going to work. Maybe you truly don’t have the 20 minutes to prep, or your plan included a make-ahead meal (ie, slow cooker, casserole made in advance), and it just didn’t happen this week. Work ended late, someone needs to be unexpectedly driven somewhere or picked up, you forgot to defrost the chicken, or you are just plain tired. We totally understand and have been there hundreds of times.
To give you some options when these kinds of evenings are upon you, we have compiled five simple dinner ideas for family meals that you can keep at the ready. All the meals are from The Dinner Daily and are well-tested and well-loved by our members, so you can feel confident they will work. We have given you two sets of options for easy simple meals: 5 Dinner Daily tried and true recipes and a list of non-traditional dinner ideas that get the job done fast.
Either way, we hope it helps you embrace the health and money-saving benefits of cooking at home more often!
5 Simple Dinner Ideas for Family Meals: (Super Easy Dinner Daily Recipes)
Each recipe listed below is a great option for quick and easy meals when time is limited. Here are the criteria we used when selecting the recipes to include for simple dinner ideas:
- They involve limited prep and are all about 30 minutes total time to get on the table. The recipes that do involve some veggie chopping are limited and you can easily do it in advance.
- All have 8 ingredients or less (including your staples such as olive oil).
- All the meals are what we consider kid-friendly.
- The meals use everyday ingredients, so there is no searching in the store for those hard-to-find ingredients. As a general rule, we aren’t big fans of hard-to-find ingredients.
The 5 Simple Dinner Recipes Included Below:
- Super Easy Parmesan Chicken Bake
- Easy Salsa Pork
- Bean and Cheese Burritos (a long time kid favorite!)
- Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage Dinner
- Fresh Tomato Pasta and Baby Spinach
You can also use our easy-to-print recipe cards so you have them handy when you need a simple dinner idea for your family.
If you are a Dinner Daily member, you can also pull these recipes into your weekly menu by using the search function on your menu. You could then create a shopping list for your phone or a printed version. If you are not a member and want to get a personalized dinner plan based on the specials at your grocery store, you can check out our meal planning tool for free for 2 weeks.
Ready to make dinner easy? Check out the five simple dinner ideas for your family below:
The other ideas for dinner that fall into the “anything goes, just get it done” are listed at the bottom of the post.
One more thing: I try to always keep some basic ingredients on hand to make these meals work as quick stand-ins. For instance, the following items have become staples in my kitchen for impromptu meals:
- Eggs, shredded cheese and plain Greek yogurt
- Jarred salsa, refried beans, canned beans, lentils, wraps, sandwich buns (often kept in the freezer)
- Bell peppers, carrots, onions, mixed greens, baby spinach, scallions, cauliflower and broccoli
- An extra package of boneless chicken breast can either be used for lunches or incorporated into a quick dinner. The same is true for pre-cooked chicken sausages or pork tenderloin. All of these proteins are versatile and can be frozen at the end of the week if not used, but they have saved me from having to call out for takeout so many times!!!
Your items might look different, but the takeaway is to always have some basic and versatile ingredients on hand and easy recipes to use them in. This way, you will never be without an answer to “What are we going to do for dinner??” again! (ok maybe not never…but maybe a lot less! 😉)
Simple Dinner Idea #1
Super Easy Parmesan Chicken Bake
- 2 lbs boneless chicken breast
- 6 oz plain greek yogurt low-fat
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place chicken breasts in dish and season with salt & pepper.
- In small bowl mix yogurt with parmesan and spread on each chicken breast.
- Bake for about 25 to 30 mins until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside (internal temp of 165 degrees).
Simple Dinner Idea #2
Easy Salsa Pork
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 lbs pork tenderloin
- 1 cup salsa mild (or to taste)
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves
- 1 oz taco seasoning mild
- Slice pork into approx 2 inch pieces. Set aside.
- In bowl, combine salsa, apricot preserves, and taco seasoning.
- Heat oil in large skillet on med. Add pork to skillet and cook for 3 to 4 mins on each side, until meat starts to brown.
- Add salsa mixture to skillet, turn heat to med/low, and continue to cook for another 5 to 8 mins until pork is cooked through.
Simple Dinner Idea #3
Kid Friendly Burritos with Beans And Cheese
- 1 green pepper chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 15 oz can of refried beans
- 5 tortillas burrito size
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and a bit more for sprinkling
- Suggestions for serving on side: salsa, sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole, chopped fresh tomatoes.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In large skillet, heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Add refried beans to skillet and let heat for a few minutes so it becomes soft. Stir into veggies.
- Spray 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Lay each tortilla on flat surface and spread about 1/4 of skillet mix about an inch in from edge.
- Sprinkle with some cheese and roll up. Place seam side down in dish.
- Repeat for each tortilla.
- Sprinkle with a bit more cheese, cover with foil & bake for 10 minutes until heated through.
- Additional Flavor Options: top with guacamole or chopped avocado, salsa, sour cream, or chopped tomatoes.
Simple Dinner Idea #4
Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage
- cooking spray
- 4 red/orange/yellow bell peppers chopped
- 2 onions large, cut into wedges
- 1 cauliflower small head, chopped
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2 packages chicken sausage fully cooked, sliced into 1 inch thick slices
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, or lightly coat with oil. Add peppers, onions, and cauliflower to pan.
- Drizzle with oil and vinegar; toss to coat. Roast 15 mins or until veggies are softened and slightly browned.
- Remove pan from oven, push veggies to one side to allow room for sausage. Place sliced sausage on pan and return to oven.
- Cook for another 10 mins or until sausage is browned and heated through.
- Remove from oven and top with chopped parsley, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simple Dinner Idea #5
Fresh Tomato Pasta with Baby Spinach
- 4 to matoes chopped
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 12 oz thin spaghetti
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Place tomatoes in bowl with vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic.
- Season with salt & pepper and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Cook pasta per package directions.
- Mix tomatoes with pasta & add spinach. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
5 More Simple Dinner Ideas:
When you truly have no time to cook dinner, but want to avoid unhealthy takeout or the drive through, these easy meals will save you.
- Scrambled eggs, fruit, multi grain toast with peanut butter or nut butter. I usually would top the eggs with shredded cheese for the kids.
- Keep some frozen veggie or chicken burgers (and the buns) in your freezer and serve with a simple salad of mixed greens topped with store bought shredded carrots and grape tomatoes. If you have salsa and avocado on hand, use them to top off your burgers. Putting the buns under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes will help them defrost quickly. Or try one of my favorite ways- serve the burgers without buns chopped up in the salad).
- Grilled cheese, sliced tomato, and avocado sandwiches on whole grain bread, with salad or fresh fruit. If you have an air fryer, it creates a fabulous texture and crunch!
- Another one with eggs- make a quick omelet with whatever veggies you have in your crisper. This is a great way to use up bits of this and that, and otherwise are going to end up in the bin. Chopped asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, or scallions- it all works! I have saved many individual pieces of veggies in my crisper from going to waste by using this tactic, and I saved dinner and overspending at the same time.
- Although this one does require some advance prep, it has saved my dinners many times. Whenever I buy chicken breast, I try to buy an extra package and make a batch of chicken salad for lunches or for an impromptu dinner when time is tight. Add chopped greens, celery, halved grapes or berries, pistachios or walnuts, or chopped carrots to increase nutrients. My kids never see what goes into the mix, but they love all the textures and flavors that comes with every bite. Also, to save time chopping up the chicken, I pull out my mini prep or Ninja chopper. It also creates an easier to eat texture for little ones. You can also check out one of our favorite chicken salad recipes here