Moms Share 15 Easy Weeknight Meal Ideas

by | Apr 24, 2024

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easy weeknight meal ideas

Why is it so difficult to come up with easy weeknight meal ideas?  Maybe because you’re working full time, you have a picky eater, or cooking in general overwhelms you.  

While we do need to find time to slow down, our fast paced lives can make it challenging to put a meal on the table that’s quick, delicious, and nutritious. 

I asked my community of parents (mostly moms), what their go-to easy weeknight meal ideas were, and they provided so many great ideas!

Whether you’re stuck in a dinnertime rut and need some fresh ideas, or you’re looking for easy and healthy weeknight dinners, these busy mom meals (and dads of course too), can make the dinnertime rush a little easier with these 15 easy weeknight meal ideas. 

Planning Dinner for Kids

As adults, we tend to make the majority of the decisions around what our family eats, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep our kid’s preferences in mind.

Here are a few tips to plan dinner for kids that they’ll actually eat:

Include them in the grocery planning

Next time you make a run to the grocery store, ask your kid’s if there’s anything they’d like to add to the grocery list.  Yes, they may just request their favorite snacks or desserts, but narrow the question down and ask what fruits, veggies, or entrees they’d like for the week. 

Ask them one meal they’d like for dinner this week

This is my go-to question when my kids don’t like what’s for dinner.  I’ll ask them what they’d like for dinner in the next few days so I can make sure I incorporate their request in some way, shape, or form instead of trying to whip it up right then and there – I refuse to be a short order cook!

Let them come to the grocery store with you!

I know this might be a hard no for you, but I encourage you to give it a try.  

There are certainly times where I need to get in and out and it’s best if my kids don’t tag along.  However, taking your kids grocery shopping is an excellent opportunity to give them some autonomy in selecting foods for your family, as well as exposing them to new foods too.

Have them plan out meals with you

When you include your kids in the meal planning for your family, you’re giving them a heads up for what to expect, as well as an opportunity for them to provide feedback.

I like to use this opportunity to ask my kids: “What should we add to make it better?”  This way I can make sure to incorporate a preferred food so the odds of them actually coming to the table and eating something are higher than if I weren’t to enlist their feedback. 

Grab my Meal Planning Toolkit for families for free meal planning and grocery list templates, as well as 4 weeks of easy weeknight meal ideas.

Easy Weeknight Meal Ideas

When it comes to planning easy weeknight meal ideas, it’s always nice to have a handful of go-to options and sprinkle in a few new things here and there.

These easy and healthy weeknight dinners were recommended by busy moms, and even one dad – because dad’s cook for their family’s too!

Check them out below and feel free to tweak these ideas to accommodate your family’s preferences and dietary modifications. 

Pesto Pasta and Veggies 

Boil some water, add your preferred pasta, drain, and mix in some pesto.  Pop in a frozen veggie steamer into the microwave and you’re done!

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Boil pasta in bone broth
  • Use a chickpea or lentil pasta
  • Offer with edamame for a protein boost
  • Sprinkle in hemp hearts
  • Offer shredded cheddar cheese
  • Mix in rotisserie chicken or meatballs

Kate, mom of 3

Waffles with Sausage and Fruit

Breakfast for dinner, aka brinner, is not only my daughter’s favorite, but it’s relatively easy.

You can make it as simple as popping some frozen waffles in the microwave or making your own.

I like to pair waffles with Simeks mini breakfast sausage meatballs and fresh fruit.

You can add even more variety by switching it up and having pancakes for brinner too!

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Try blending spinach and banana into waffle mix
  • Top with Greek yogurt and fruit
  • Buy a whole grain waffle

Alex, mom of 2

Grilled Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries 

Grilling up some burgers, or even hot dogs, doesn’t take too terribly long and also requires fewer dishes if using the grill – sign me up!

Feel free to purchase premade patties to make life easier.  Throw your family’s favorite potato or fresh veggies (tossed in oil and seasonings) on a sheet pan and roast while you grill up your burgers. 

You can get fancy with toppings if you have the time and energy, but sometimes a plain ole cheeseburger just hits the spot – did I mention cheeseburgers are one of my favorite foods?

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Try a whole grain bun
  • Add a salad kit as a side
  • Offer with fresh fruits and veggies too!

Kelcie, mom of 2

English Muffin Pizzas and Salad 

Friday nights are typically reserved for pizza in some way shape or form in our house.  English muffin pizzas are an easy, kid-friendly way to enjoy pizza with your family on any day of the week. 

Simply top your english muffin halves with pizza sauce, cheese, and a favorite topping or two, pop them in the oven to bake and enjoy.  For an official recipe, read more here

Want more ways to mix up pizza night?  Check out 15 ways to offer pizza here. 

Salad kits are a big reason why I get in as many vegetables as I do.  They allow you to enjoy a delicious combination of flavors, without purchasing ten different ingredients that would otherwise rot away in your fridge before you use them again.  No washing, chopping, just dump and mix!

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Try whole wheat english muffins
  • Add veggies for toppings

Cassie, mom of 2

Eggs, Toast, and Fruit

I’m not sure there’s another dinner that’s easier while also providing so much nutritional value than eggs, toast, and fruit.  

Scrambled eggs can be whipped up in five minutes, toast popped in the toaster for even fewer, and fresh fruit pulled out of the fridge in seconds.  

Scrambled eggs and toast are great options to start with to get your kids learning how to cook too!  They can easily crack and whisk eggs and help you monitor them on the stovetop, supervised of course. 

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Add avocado to your toast for a serving of healthy fat and fruit
  • Try serving roasted sweet or regular potatoes for a veggie option
  • Get fancy by adding shredded cheese to your scrambled eggs

Cassie, mom of 2

Breaded Chicken Chunks and Veggies

While some may not think so, I’m here to tell you that breaded chicken like chicken nuggets, strips, or filets, can certainly be included in your round up of easy and healthy weeknight dinners. 

Plus, most kids really enjoy breaded chicken and it’s easier for them to chew than a grilled chicken breast.  

Add some fresh roasted veggies or a frozen vegetable steamer, whatever you have time for or available in your fridge or freezer.

And don’t be afraid to let them dip their chicken or veggies in ketchup. 

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Try a breaded chicken product that also has added veggies

Jodi, mom of 3

Spaghetti with Garlic Bread and Veggies

Another one of our go-to easy weeknight meal ideas is some kind of pasta, with marinara, garlic bread, and a side of veggies. 

Try adding variety to this go-to option by changing up the pasta variety, as well as the protein you use with it.  

I like to go between Simeks mini meatballs, ground beef, and even use breaded chicken tenders for a quick version of chicken parmesan.  Sometimes we even go meatless and layer on the shredded cheese for some protein. 

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Try boiling pasta in bone broth
  • Use chickpea or lentil pasta
  • Finely chop up veggies you have in your fridge to add to the marinara

Darcie, mom of 2

Snack Board

On nights when you don’t feel like cooking, throw together a large snack board.

Snack boards can be whatever you make it, but I usually like to use up the open boxes of random crackers and snacks or fresh product that’s about to turn, arrange it on a tray, large plate, or baking sheet and enjoy finger foods for dinner.

My kids love it, it helps me use up stuff, and it has the opportunity to provide a wide variety of foods – plus it’s amazing what kids will try when food is offered this way versus at a traditionally plated meal.

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Make sure to include fruits and veggies
  • Add kid-friendly proteins such as cheese, nut butters, hummus, nuts, seeds, and even deli meat

Alex, mom of 2

Fried Rice

Fried rice is another one of our easy weeknight meal ideas that’s also customizable.  You can add chicken if you’d like or simply keep it to scrambled eggs.  Switch up the veggies you use based on your family’s preferences too.

You can make fried rice as simple as microwaving a frozen or steamer rice pouch, mixing with some mixed vegetables, soy sauce, and scrambled eggs, or making it from scratch.

I love to use my rice cooker because it makes perfectly cooked rice versus when I make it on the stove top and never get the right consistency. 

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Add edamame for more plant-based protein
  • Add more eggs than the recipe calls for
  • Try it with quinoa
  • Mix in some rotisserie chicken for a quick protein option

Katie, mom of 3

Wraps with Breaded Chicken and Salad Kit

This is such a great idea!  Utilizing salad kits for their convenience, amazing flavors, and minimizing food waste is an excellent way to whip up a easy and healthy weeknight dinner.

Throw some breaded chicken in the airfryer and heat up some tortillas and you’ve hit three different food groups.

Plus, if you’re not feeling the tortilla, you can opt for the chicken salad version while your kids eat a chicken salad wrap – or just the tortilla if your kids are like mine. 

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Try a whole grain tortilla
  • Offer with fresh fruit as well
  • Sprinkle in some hemp hearts

Michele, mom of 2

Grilled Cheese and Soup

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a kid-friendly dinner option that you can easily whip up in 20 minutes or less making it another option to add to your easy weeknight meal ideas.

If you’re looking for a a super speedy option for busy nights, try Lily’s Toaster Grills with a side of fresh fruit and/or veggies.  Literally 30 seconds in the microwave, and pop it in the toaster on medium-high – no prep, no mess.  

If you have a little more time, try these fun King’s Hawaiian mini grilled cheese sandwiches!

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Add avocado to your grilled cheese
  • Use a whole grain bread
  • Serve with fresh fruit and veggies for more fiber

Samantha, mom of 2

Tortellini with Marinara and Veggies

This is one of my go-to easy weeknight meal ideas.  Tortellini take literally three minutes to boil, marinara can quickly heat up on the stove and pop a frozen veggie steamer in the microwave for approximately five minutes and you have a dinner that covers three food groups (grains, protein, vegetables).

Switch this easy weeknight meal idea up by using ravioli!

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Toss tortellini in olive oil
  • Finely chop fresh veggies and add to marinara
  • Add a fresh fruit for more fiber and vitamins and minerals

Alex, mom of 2


Quesadillas can be made on the stove top, or if you’re in a pinch, the microwave. 

Keep it as simple as shredded cheese or add some diced chicken.  Serve quesadillas with some guacamole (fruit), salsa (vegetable – yes, salsa can count towards your vegetables), and plain Greek yogurt (dairy/protein).

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Smash beans into your quesadillas – Refried Bean Quesadilla recipe
  • Add shredded carrots to quesadilla
  • Sauté frozen, sliced bell peppers to add to quesadilla
  • Use whole grain tortillas

Samantha, mom of 2

Potstickers with Edamame

Potstickers are often associated with appetizers, but they can certainly be an entree too!

Pan fry, steam, or even microwave potstickers and pair with edamame for both a plant-based protein and vegetable.

If this doesn’t seem like quite enough for you, add some fried rice or lo mein. 

This is one of our go-to meals when we feel like getting Chinese takeout – which we certainly do from time to time. 

Add a nutritional boost:

Chas, dad of 2

Egg Roll in a Bowl

This is one that I haven’t tried, but it’s been on my list.

While egg roll in a bowl might sound intimidating, it’s actually very simple.  Essentially your browning ground beef, adding some seasoning and sesame oil, plus shredded carrots and cabbage, then sauteing until everything is tender. 

You can even get the pre shredded carrots and coleslaw mix instead of chopping it yourself. 

Add a nutritional boost:

  • Add edamame as a side or shelled and in the egg roll in a bowl mixture for more protein

Amanda, mom of 1

Making the Dinner Time Rush Easier

Whether you’re stuck in a dinnertime rut and need some fresh ideas, or you’re looking for easy and healthy weeknight dinners, these busy mom meals (and dads of course too), can help the dinnertime rush a little easier. 

As adults, we tend to make the majority of the decisions around what our family eats, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep our kid’s preferences in mind.  

Instead try including them in the grocery planning, asking them what they might like for dinner, letting them go grocery shopping with you, and having them help plan out the meals with you as well. 

When it comes to planning easy weeknight meal ideas, it’s always nice to have a handful of go-to options and sprinkle in a few new things here and there.

15 Easy Weeknight Meal Ideas

  • Pesto pasta and veggies
  • Waffles with sausage and fruit
  • Grilled burgers with sweet potato fries
  • English muffin pizzas with salad
  • Eggs, toast, and fruit
  • Breaded chicken chunks and veggies
  • Spaghetti with garlic bread and veggies
  • Snack board
  • Fried rice
  • Wraps with breaded chicken and salad kit
  • Grilled cheese and soup
  • Tortellini with marinara and veggies
  • Quesadillas
  • Potstickers with edamame
  • Egg roll in a bowl 

Plan out your easy weeknight dinners with my free Meal Planning Toolkit for Families.

Hi! I'm Alex Turnbull. I'm a registered dietitian specializing in introducing solids and picky eating. Most importantly, I'm a mom of two so I get how stressful feeding kids can be.

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