My husband and I love to share a good meal. And one of our favorite parts of becoming parents has always been sharing that love of food with our kids and enjoying good food with them. Like many kids, ours are still learning to like certain foods and textures (mushrooms come to mind immediately). So there are certain dinner ideas that we only enjoy without our three kids, like my favorite lentil eggplant stew. Those “grown-up” meals get made on nights when my husband has to work late, and I’m feeding the kids earlier.
Usually, about five out of seven nights of the week, we sit down together and eat as a family. It’s not always easy finding meals that please four different palates (five when the baby starts voicing opinions too). With some trial and error, we’ve gotten to a place where we have many family-friendly meals on rotation. I’ve rounded up 15 of my family’s favorites to share with anyone looking for ideas.
1. Air Fryer Salmon
We’ve always loved salmon, and a few years ago, someone recommended cooking it in the air fryer. Game. Changer. I spread a little teriyaki sauce on it (we love Trader Joe’s Soyaki) and air fry at 375* for 9 minutes. I serve with a veggie (often edamame or peas) and a box of 5-minute couscous.
I love this instant pot recipe, but you can also make it on the stove. It goes great with roasted broccoli.
3. BBQ Chicken Nachos
My kids call this a “Daddy Special” because it’s one of my husband’s signature dishes. We buy a rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods, and he shreds it and mixes barbeque sauce in. Then it’s just tortilla chips and shredded cheese topped with the chicken. Toppings are in bowls on the table for DIY: veggies, corn, beans, olives, and avocado.
Breakfast for dinner can be anything your (and your kids’) heart desires. For us, it’s usually blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, and turkey bacon. You can add cheese and veggies to the eggs if your family likes.
5. Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Peas
My husband loves curry, but the rest of us aren’t so into spice. I mix mild curry powder into coconut milk for a sweet “curry” and serve over jasmine or basmati rice.
In the summer, my husband grills a lot because there can be something for everyone; cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, chicken. I usually make a quick pasta salad to go with it or this Mediterranean orzo salad.
7. Chicken Cutlets
Stew Leonard’s sells a delicious bag of Parmesan-Paprika Panko Breadcrumbs. I use this to coat my chicken and serve with roasted vegetables (often carrots and other root veggies) and a box of 5-minute couscous.
This is my daughter’s favorite meal. I add broccoli to the lemon butter sauce and then serve the chicken and broccoli over pasta.
9. Homemade Pizza
My husband loves making pizza, and you can add any toppings your family likes. We like broccoli, spinach, turkey pepperoni, and pineapple (our pork-free version of Hawaiian).
This is another open-ended meal because you can add anything you like. We always do a few different varieties; we like beans, corn, sweet potato, or ground chicken. I often make a side salad which my kids usually won’t touch.
It’s. Heaven. I leave off the mushrooms for my kids but add hard-boiled eggs, carrots, and cashews or edamame.
So easy. I add chicken sausage to make it a complete meal.
13. DIY Taco Bowls
Always been a favorite. Everything goes on the table, and kids make their own bowls. It’s MESSY, but they like it better than tacos or burritos because those fall apart easily. We put out rice, ground beef with Penzey’s Original Taco Seasoning, shredded cheese, corn, beans, avocado, tomato, and hot sauce for the adults.
14. Stir Fry
I usually do a chicken and veggie stir fry with teriyaki sauce. I serve it with Trader Joe’s frozen Japanese Style Fried Rice.
15. Turkey Melts
This is yummy. In a baking dish, layer the bottoms of Hawaiian sweet rolls, followed by turkey (we use Boar’s Head honey maple) and thin slices of cheese. Spread laughing cow cheese on the cut sides of the roll tops and then close sandwiches. Pour melted butter over the top. Cover and bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for ten more minutes. I serve them with garlic parmesan green beans.