From the moment you leave work, until the moment you get dinner on the table feels like a mini-marathon every night. The rush to pick up the kids, get home and make something everyone will eat and still manage some family time before putting the kids to bed is HARD. We’ve got some picky- eater approved weeknight meals to get dinner on your table before your kids get hangry.
Weeknights can be a challenge for many reasons. For one, it’s a long day for the kids, full of stimulation, and it’s a long day for mom and dad, especially if they just finished work. Second, the time we have is scarce, bedtime is just around the corner. Third, everyone is probably tired and maybe even a little on the cranky. Ultimately, we just want to be able to spend some quality time together rather than spending all our time in the kitchen cooking dinner. Being able to whip together healthy meals in a pinch allows for a less stressful evening and for some much needed family time before bedtime routines begin.
The best way to make weeknights flow better is to find time on the weekends to cook and prep for the week. But let’s face it, when you have kids, weekends are often hectic and the last thing you want to do is plan ahead. So, don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to, sometimes life gets in the way. That is why I always have a few quick and simple meal ideas on hand that I can easily whip up at a moments notice. Here are just a few of my go-to weeknight meals that are quick and better yet, kid-friendly.
Breakfast for Dinner
Having breakfast for dinner has to be one of my all-time favorites. It’s simple, easy, healthy and the kids love it. What’s even better is that the options are endless. You can keep it simple by serving scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. You can choose to add in a meat such as ham, bacon or whatever else you have on hand or you can make your favourite omelet if you have a little bit more time in the kitchen. Our family favourite is a simple omelet with cheese and salsa. And for those nights where you really don’t want to be in the kitchen at all, you can make a batch of egg cups by simply mixing eggs (about 6), milk, cheese and whatever else you want to add into lined muffin tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Whatever way you choose, breakfast for dinner is always a hit!
Can you tell that our house loves the flavours of Mexican food? Well quesadillas are easy and great for an end of the week option when your time is limited and groceries have depleted. I like to call these my “clean out the fridge meal” because they are so versatile and I use whatever is left in the fridge.
The main ingredients that you will need on hand are tortillas and cheese, otherwise anything goes. For instance, you can do ham and cheese, spinach and cheese, pulled pork and cheese, chicken and veg, cheese with beans and corn. Honestly, anything works.
It took me some time to figure out how to make quesadillas perfectly like you would find in a restaurant and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be pretty simple. To do so, you take a pan, put your tortilla down and fill half with the filling that you have selected. You then fold over the side that is empty and flip it several times like a grilled cheese until it is cooked to your satisfaction!!!
Did you have taco night this week and happen to have some leftover meat? Then this recipe is perfect for a quick, kid-friendly meal.
Simply boil some pasta, add in your taco seasoned meat and maybe a little extra seasoning (I mix it with a little bit of water first), toss in some cheese and your taco pasta is ready. I like to take it one step further by putting it in a casserole dish, sprinkling some cheese on top and baking it but of course that is only if I’m not in a rush and the kids are cooperating.
Whichever way you choose to do it, it is yummy regardless. The only downfall is that it this meal lacks vegetables. To ensure the kids are having a balanced meal, I will serve some of their favorite fresh veggies on the side or you can even add some corn into the taco pasta itself.
Personally, I try to stay away from carbs at night since they make me feel too full and bloated so mommy’s meal ends up being a taco salad. A great alternative! Make your salad like you normally would and top it with some seasoned meat, cheese and salsa. You won’t even need to add dressing!
Korean Beef Bowl
Here is another meal that uses ground beef although you can substitute it for any ground meat that your family prefers. What’s great about this recipe is that from start to finish, it is on the table in 20 minutes and packed full of flavour.
Cook your ground meat like you normally would and as it is cooking prepare your sauce (recipe below). At the same time boil your rice or quinoa. This way, everything will be done at the same time and ready for you to plate and serve.
This recipe also allows you to play around with it to suit your families food preferences. You can pick whichever meat and/or grains that you prefer and you can choose to add in veggies as well. For veggies, you can simply add them to the pan once your meat is cooked and top with the same sauce, sort of like a stir-fry. (The original recipe was found on smilesandwich.com)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp fresh ground ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Salt and pepper
- And green onions to top (optional)
This is another great recipe to use up any leftovers you have in your fridge. It’s also very versatile. During the week, if you make a meal using rice, double the rice so that you have extra on hand to make fried rice. If you serve, chicken, shrimp or tofu, do the same.
To make this meal, sauté some veggies, whatever you have on hand. Typically, I will use, carrots, frozen peas and onion. Then scramble some eggs (I use 3 or 4), add in your leftover rice, quinoa or even cauliflower rice and yoru leftover protein (if you want) and then mix in ½ tsp of sesame oil, ¼ cup of soy sauce, garlic and some salt and pepper. It doesn’t get much easier then that not to mention that it is a hit with the little ones.
And there you have it, some really simple, quick and kid-friendly weeknight meal options. So, if life seems to get in the way of planning your weeknight meals in advance, don’t stress. There are always easy recipes that an be made in no time. I hope I’ve managed to eliminate some stress from your busy weeknights by inspiring you with these recipes. Just remember that you can do a lot with just a few ingredients, so get in the kitchen and have some fun!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.