Deciding what to make for dinner and getting it onto the table at the end of the day is a daily challenge, but these family dinners make it doable! (Even if you need to feed a discerning toddler too!) Try some of these easy toddler meals during the week ahead to make quick work of the evening meal.
Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners
Each of these easy family and toddler dinners is yummy and quick, or can be made in a slow cooker. This is the list I turn to for ideas for what to make for dinner each week and where I go whenever I find myself in a dinner rut. I tried to include a range of flavors in this list to help keep things interesting! (P.S. If you ever need a refresher on what to do when your toddler won’t eat, check this out.)
What to Make for Dinner with Chicken
- Simple Shredded Chicken
Bring 2 cups chicken broth to a simmer in a wide skillet. Add 1 pound chicken thighs or tenders, arranging in a single layer. Cover and cook, reducing the heat if the liquid starts to boil rapidly, for about 10-14 minutes, turning over halfway through. Remove from pan once fully cooked, shred, and serve with rice, in chicken salad, tacos, in pasta, or any other way your family likes it!
- Slow Cooker Chicken Veggie Tacos
Soft shredded chicken and a flavorful (but not spicy!) veggie sauce make these tacos both easy and delicious. Serve them with your family’s favorite taco toppings.
- One-Pan Pesto Chicken and Brown Rice
With veggies, chicken, and whole grain brown rice all in one pan, this simple skillet dinner is mostly hands off…so you can play with the kids while it cooks.
- Parmesan Chicken Tenders
Slightly crispy and full of flavor, these protein-packed chicken tenders are a nice main dish for the whole family. Serve alongside a whole grain, noodles, or even whole grain bread and a veggie for a balanced toddler dinner.
- Sweet Potato Chicken Bites
Like a chicken nugget, only with veggies tucked inside!
- Cauliflower Chicken Nuggets
These chicken nuggets are so soft and flavorful, the kids won’t even realize they’re eating veggies!
- Coconut Poached Chicken Salad
Try this simple dinner salad recipe with moist poached chicken.
- Skillet Ginger Chicken and Veggies
This easy family dinner is a favorite option for when you’re craving takeout.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Introduce the family to a new (or old!) favorite Indian dish with this simple slow cooker variation.
- Crispy Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
These are impressively good—and so easy! We like them served over rice or as fajita filling.
What to Make for Dinner with Ground Beef and Pork
- Unstuffed Peppers
This easy skillet toddler dinner has all of the flavors of stuffed peppers without the fuss.
- Veggie-Loaded Meat Sauce
Brown a half-pound of meat in a skillet and stir it into this veggie-packed sauce for extra protein for your meat lovers.
- Zucchini Burgers
Add a veggie right into your burgers to add moisture, nutrition—and to stretch expensive meat to make more servings!
- Slow Cooker Beef Chili
This simple slow cooker recipe will become a new classic. (And it’s totally okay if you make this with purchased taco seasoning!)
- Fried Potatoes and Sausage Skillet
You can’t go wrong with a skillet of flavorful sausage and crispy potatoes!
- Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
Share a classic takeout dish when you walk in the door with this easy slow cooker recipe.
- Teriyaki Pork
Moist and flavorful, this slow cooker pork is so good—and tender enough for little ones to enjoy. Try snipping little pieces with kitchen shears.
What to Cook for Dinner: Vegetarian
- Sheet Pan Quesadillas
Learn the easiest way to make a pile of quesadillas in this sheet pan recipe.
- Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tacos
Roast all of the components of vegetarian tacos on one roasting pan and dinner is nearly done!
- Loaded Potato Nachos
Make the whole family happy with a loaded plate of healthy nachos.
- 30-Minute Black Bean Soup
Get a flavorful bean soup on the table before the kids start clamoring for dinner with this budget-friendly recipe.
- Lentil Tomato Stew
A simple combination of lentils and tomatoes, this flavorful stew is a perfect match for rice—or cornbread or whole grain rolls.
Easy Dinners to Make Tonight with Eggs
- Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins
Bake up a batch of egg muffins and serve breakfast for dinner with a side of toast and fresh fruit.
- Roasted Sweet Potato Hash
Put a tray of veggies and beans into the oven to roast and serve with hard-cooked or scrambled eggs and dinner is done! (Okay, maybe add a little salsa on the side.)
- Scrambled Eggs and Broccoli
Saute finely chopped broccoli before adding a few eggs to the pan for an easy combination that pairs well with toast or muffins.
- Avocado Rice and Eggs
Stir mashed avocado into fully cooked rice and top with a fried or poached egg for a simple, but totally satisfying dinner.
- Huevos Rancheros Tacos
Try this quick toddler meal the next time you’re craving Mexican but don’t want to spend forever making dinner!
Vegetarian Toddler Dinners
- DIY Burrito Bowls
Enjoy the flavors of a burrito but skip the work of assembling them! Simply serve bowls of rice, beans, roasted veggies, and assorted toppings and let the family customize their own servings.
- Rice Bowls with Peanut Sauce
Let everyone serve themselves the components of this DIY grain bowl for a happy meal for all.
- Easy Baked Brown Rice Risotto
Let this veggie risotto bake in the oven—no more standing by the stove stirring!
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa
With a texture similar to risotto but none of the fuss, this creamy dish can easily be rounded out with a side of peas or chicken.
- Easy Thai Green Curry with Vegetables
This mild curry is a perfect introduction to new flavors…or an easy way to have a favorite flavor without paying restaurant prices!
- Sweet Potato and Cheese Quesadillas
Take your standard cheese quesadillas up a notch by adding sweet potato. This is a perfect weeknight toddler meal since it’s so easy to assemble, warm, and serve.
Easy Weeknight Soup Recipes
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
This budget-friendly slow cooker soup is a go-to, especially when comfort food is in order.
- Broccoli Pea Soup
Transform frozen veggies into a creamy soup in no time with this easy recipe. Cheese and crackers make for perfect sides!
- 30-Minute Lentil Soup
A vegetarian soup that’s packed with veggies and cooks up in 30 minutes? Done!
- Veggie-Packed Bean Chili
Make a double batch of this chunky chili and serve one this week and tuck the other into the freezer for a future toddler meal.
- Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup
Broccoli cheese soup, paired with breadsticks or fruit, is a yummy dinner for everyone at the table. Let the kids dip their bread into their bowl—or pick up bread bowls at the store for even more fun!
- Red Lentil Sweet Potato Soup
Protein and sweet, creamy flavor make this simple soup a surprising hit with kids of all ages.
Quick Pasta Family Dinner Ideas
- 5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Sure, you can open a box of mac and cheese, but you can make this veggie-packed version in almost the same amount of time!
- Butternut Squash and Sausage Pasta
With a nice mix of flavors, protein, carbohydrates, and produce, this skillet dinner is made for weeknights.
- Spinach Pesto Pasta
Blend veggies right into this mild pesto and serve up a one-pot pasta family dinner. This is one of our go-to toddler dinners!
- Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
Turn fresh or canned tomatoes into a perfectly blended marinara sauce that cooks while you go about your day.
- Lemon and Broccoli Spaghetti
Mix up the expected and serve up a lemony pasta dinner instead. (This is so good!)
- 15-Minute Lo-Mein
Savor the amazing flavor of this simple recipe that’s easy to customize based on the veggies you have on hand. (Don’t worry, you can use regular soy sauce and still have it taste great!)
Easy Pizza Recipes for Dinner Tonight
- Mini Spinach and Cheese Pizza Rolls
With two kinds of veggies tucked into the pizza rolls, this easy toddler meal is also a great one to make ahead.
- Kale Pesto Pizza Rolls
Introduce your family to kale with this kid-friendly pizza recipe.
- Twice-Baked Pizza Potato Boats
Bake potatoes, scoop out the insides, mash and mix with a little pizza sauce, and fill potato skins. Top each with a little shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan and bake to warm through and melt the cheese. Done and done!
- Tortilla Pizza
Skip the work of making dough and make this simple pizza dinner instead!
- English Muffin Pizza
This dinner recipe is a classic and for good reason: It’s satisfying, easy, and even easier to customize. Let the kids choose their toppings, serve a bowl of fresh snap peas or sliced cucumbers alongside, and enjoy.
P.S. I wrote a whole e-book filled with easy dinner recipes that take either 30 minutes start to finish (or less!) or can be made in the slow cooker. You can these addition ideas for what to make for dinner in Yummy Family Food.