Easy and Kid-Friendly Weeknight Dinner Menus

Cooking How-To, Dinner, For Moms
on August 8, 2013
Nora's Grilled Chicken
Mark Boughton Photography / styling: Teresa Blackburn

On weeknights, when meal planning often takes a backseat to picky eaters with busy schedules, take-out may look tempting. However, the modern family need not forgo family dinner in the name of convenience—not with an arsenal of quick, easy and kid-friendly dinner recipes right at our fingertips.

When you’re in a pinch, look to one of these four balanced menus, perfect for weeknights, plus a mouthwatering list of go-to one dish dinners that kids will love.


The recipes in this menu are chock-full of shortcuts like using rotisserie chicken and canned beans. Plus, it’s easily customized by adding, subtracting or substituting ingredients (namely veggies) to appease picky eaters. The best part? The Cinnamon Sugar Bunuelos (using store-bought tortillas) make for a fun, hands-on recipe that beats after-school TV any day.

Southwest Chicken Quesadillas
Southwestern Rice Salad
Cinnamon Sugar Bunuelos 

Feast from the East
Asian Lettuce Wraps

For added protein and a little crunch, pair noodle bowls with a platter of quick lettuce wraps. Kids love hands-on food, and the savory filling is an easy way to slide a few extra nutrients under the radar. As far as the noodles go, these sesame noodles are an easy go-to featuring neutral flavors, making it easy to add ingredients you know the kids will like.

Sesame Noodles
Asian Express Beef Lettuce Wraps
Lemon Pineapple Green Tea

Meat Free Monday
Green Beans

If you observe Meat Free Mondays, or if your kids tend to prefer sides and salads over meaty entrees, offer up a group of these super-fun sides, and let them create their own “veggie plate.” Follow up with a healthy dessert-in-digsuise parfait (store-bought granola is an easy shortcut) and you’ve got the ultimate kid-food mashup—one you can feel good about.

Quick Fix Macaroni and Cheese Muffins
Green Beans with Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce
Sweet Potato Planks
Yogurt and Fruit Parfaits with Granola

One-Dish Dinners

You’ll be amazed how much you can get done while dinner is on the stove, or in it, as the case may be. These dishes call for a little prep time and a whole lot of down time.

Fresh Summer Casserole
Baked Chicken Spaghetti

Easy Meatloaf Baked with Tomato Soup and Veggies
Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup
Quick Chicken and Rice

Meat and Potatoes
Nora's Grilled Chicken

There’s nothing wrong with a classic, but you can’t argue with a few kid-centric upgrades. Simple chicken tenders and baked potatoes with a twist are both can’t-miss picks for any day of the week, but add a few dipping sauces, and you’re a hero. This menu feels like a fast food treat, but there’s no fryer in site, and it’s miles better for you.

Nora’s Grilled Chicken
Accordion Potatoes or Grilled Potato Dippers with a Trio of Sauces
Four-Ingredient Quick Peach Crisp