Ah, the pre-kid days when you could take hours to prepare multi-step dishes without someone tugging on your sleeve or needing help with math homework. For most of us with little ones, family hunger hits hard and early, and you have to feed the beast—fast.
But you don’t have to throw up your hands up in defeat and speed dial for take-out or rely on microwave meals. Almost all of these recipes can be on the table in less than 30 minutes, which makes for happy parents. And they feature kid-friendly flavors, which makes for happy little eaters. From a kale Caesar salad to black bean taquitos to a supreme grilled cheese, these dishes go down easy. Although they often feature familiar and favorite ingredients like pasta, eggs, or potatoes, each dish is an elevated version of traditional kid food and may inspire kiddos to try out something new, too.
Who doesn’t adore French bread pizza? It’s crunchy, delicious, and so much faster than making dough by hand. This creamy spinach artichoke version would be a hit sliced and served at a dinner party, but we love it as a fast weeknight meal option for when we’re too lazy (or too late) to even dial for pizza delivery. Just top with whatever veggies you have on hand.
Black beans, corn, red peppers, and onions bring that beloved Mexican flavor, while spices like cumin, chili powder, and paprika add some heat. These taquitos are protein-packed and can even be handheld for those little diners who aren’t especially into etiquette. Another healthy option: avocado hummus taquitos.
This flavorful dish is a fun variation on typical pasta shapes. Kids love orzo’s size and chewiness. Broccolini tends to be a bit sweeter than broccoli, which may win some eaters over—but if you swap it out for spinach, peas, or asparagus, you’ll still get that refreshing pop of green. If you’re not into seafood, you can try adding some chicken, grilled tofu, or even just more veggies.
No matter the weather, the grill remains one of the cook’s best aides for getting dinner on the table quickly and deliciously. (If you’ve tucked the grill away, you can still make this yummy dinner by baking the skewers and then broiling them to get a smoky char.) Bell peppers and onions make this dish as pretty as a picture, but we’d also try adding mushrooms, zucchini, or any other veggies that your family typically enjoys.
A kid-friendly favorite gets an elegant upgrade thanks to the addition of salty, tangy feta cheese and veggies like spinach, tomatoes, olives, and diced red onions. This shouldn’t be a hard sell for anyone…and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if you make this more than once a week when your family’s schedule goes into overdrive.
This is comfort food in a cup. While this Italian baked egg recipe was actually created as a breakfast option, we think it’s just right for a quick and cozy dinner. Serve this concoction with some thick slices of crusty bread or over your favorite grain. What we especially love about this healthy, flavorful meal is that it’s portable enough to be enjoyed curled up on the couch while you catch up on your favorite shows.
Loaded baked potatoes fall under the umbrella of “foods we loved as a kid, but somehow totally forgot about as an adult”. It’s time to resurrect this family-friendly classic, especially since you can serve it DIY style and let everyone add on their favorite vegetables and sauce. Microwaving the potatoes before baking them slashes the prep time.
These sunny, yummy noodle bowls come together quickly once you have your veggies prepped. (Consider doing your chopping the night or morning before so you can get rolling once you get in the kitchen.) A simmered homemade coconut curry sauce is going to become a kitchen staple, especially since it’s silky, creamy flavor is irresistible when paired with the stir-fried veggies.
Paleo chefs—and families who simply want to cut down on refined carbs—we haven’t forgotten about you. This fried “rice” uses riced cauliflower, but it’s so flavorful and satisfying, no one will miss the traditional version. While this recipe uses chicken for a simple, quick-cooking protein possibility, feel free to sub with shrimp, tofu, tempeh, etc.
Mushrooms, artichokes, and two types of tomatoes add even more earthiness to this Tuscan white bean skillet that will warm your family’s belly. This dish goes great with even a simple salad, but for heartier appetites, try it with bread, over rice, or pasta—or on top of roasted spaghetti squash with your favorite grilled or baked protein (although the beans are a great protein source alone).
This minestrone is proof that soups don’t have to simmer all day long to achieve a rich, inspired flavor. This version, inspired by a beloved menu staple at a prominent restaurant chain, is loaded with different beans and veggies and a healthy dose of pasta shells. Even kids who claim not to care for veggies will likely dig into this hearty Italian-spiced soup that is comforting and nourishing.
Yes, your kids will eat salad if it is as delicious as this kale Caesar pasta salad. Store-bought Caesar dressing makes this recipe a snap; roasted tomatoes give this salad some sweetness and a varied texture. With sturdier kale as a base, this salad even makes great lunch leftovers.