As a single mom with three young kids, having a few easy dinner recipes that everyone loves is essential to making dinnertime easy as possible! Cooking together with your kids is great bonding time, and it also saves money over ordering out all the time. I love hanging out with my boys while we get dinner ready. The best recipes for families combine what they need with what they'll want to eat! My five favorite family friendly recipes are below.
Side note: all credit belongs to Pinterest for making TONS of recipes ideas available at my fingertips. Be sure to follow me to check out my pins and get ideas for yourself :)
Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos
My kids and I LOVE tacos! (I mean, who doesn’t?!). These chicken tacos are so delicious and easy to make. I’m a huge fan of easy slow cooker meals, so add this to the list of recipes you can pop in the crockpot and forget about until dinner time. Did I mention these are also healthy?? Can’t get any better! Just adjust the recipe to the amount of people you’re serving and you’re good to go :)
3-4 97% fat free chicken breasts
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
1 packet ranch seasoning mix
2 cups low sodium + fat free chicken broth
Pico de gallo or salsa
Light or fat free sour cream
1. Put chicken, taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, and chicken broth in your slow cooker
2. Cook on low for 4-6 hours
3. Shred chicken with fork and let it soak up the broth
4.Serve in taco shells topped with lettuce, tomato/salsa, and sour cream
Easy Italian comfort food is a must around here and baked ziti also makes great leftovers! This recipe is so hearty and cheesy, it’ll leave everyone in a food coma. Pair it with a salad for yourself or whatever veggie you can get the kids to eat and you’ve got yourself a tasty dinner! If you want to sneak some veggies in stealthily, you can always add a little steamed cauliflower, chopped fine, to the recipe below. They'll never notice ;)
1 pound ziti noodles (or penne)
24 oz marinara sauce
1½ pounds ground beef
2 cups grated Mozzarella Cheese
1½ teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper
1. Cook pasta until it's "al dente" (do not over cook the pasta) -- When baking pasta under cooking the pasta for a minute is so much better than overcooking it for a second.
2. While the pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef in a pan until it's thoroughly cooked.
3. In large bowl place pasta, marinara sauce. Add to it the ground beef, salt, and pepper to taste along with oregano, mix well.
4. In a 13x9 pan, create two layers of the pasta mixture topping each with a cup of grated Mozzarella Cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until cheese is melted and when you stick a knife into the center of the dish, the food is hot.
Baked Italian Chicken, Potatoes + Green Beans
Easy chicken dinner for the kids? This is a staple meal in my house. The kids love it and the best part? It’s a one pot meal! Less cleanup for me means more time to spend doing fun things with the boys. This is among the best healthy dinners for picky eaters, so all moms please try out this recipe!
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups green beans (canned)
1½ pounds white potatoes, chopped into 1” pieces
1 cup Kraft Lite zesty Italian dressing (about 1/2 bottle of dressing)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken lightly with a little salt and pepper.
2. In a 9x13 baking dish, line one side of the pan with green beans. Then place chicken in the middle and cut potatoes lined down the other side. Drizzle dressing on top of green beans, chicken and potatoes.
3. Place foil over the top and place in preheated oven for one hour (or until potatoes are soft and chicken is no longer pink on the inside).
4. Dish up on plates and serve with a side of fruit. Enjoy!
Pepperoni Pizza Twists
DIY pizza for the busy mama? Yes, please. These are one of the kids favorite dinners to help make! Super affordable, easy + delicious; this dinner scores high for this Mom. Being able to spend time with my boys while making dinner is awesome, and seeing them enjoy it makes it even better.
1 package crescents (8 count)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 cup marinara sauce
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Press two crescent triangles together to make a rectangle.
4. Brush your rectangle crescents with butter.
5. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of cheese in the center.
6. Place 3 pepperoni on top of the cheese.
7. Fold each side over to the middle and press the edges together.
8. Twist your breadsticks and place onto your parchment paper. Brush with butter.
9. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping and enjoy!
Easy Orange Chicken
This orange chicken is so easy to make and so flavorful! The boys ask for this all the time. I really scored when I found this recipe on Pinterest. Throw together quick sides and you’re ready to go!
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup sweet orange marmalade
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1. Cut 3-4 thawed chicken breasts into bite sized chunks and cook them in your slow cooker on MEDIUM for about 1 1/2 hours (for best results stir half way through). There is no need to add anything. The chicken cooks well in its own juices.
2. While the chicken is cooking, mix together 3/4 cup BBQ sauce, 3/4 cup orange marmalade, and 2 tbsp of soy sauce until well blended.
3. After 1 1/2 hours, drain the chicken juices from your crockpot and pour your mixture in the crockpot with your chicken. Be sure that the chicken is well coated and mixed in with the sauce. Cook on MEDIUM for an additional 2 hours (you may need to add more time if the chicken is not done). The sauce may appear a bit runny at first but it thickens quite a bit as it cools.
Cooking as a family is one of the best parts of our day. I also find that anything I can throw together and easily clean up after makes dinnertime less stressful and more fun. These are my top five favorite meals for my kids and myself. I hope you found one or two you’d like to try at your house!
I know once I find something all of my kids enjoy, I am thrilled to make whatever it is as many times as they’ll eat it! I found these all on Pinterest, try taking a look there next time you want to try something new :)