The words “What’s for dinner?” might be a busy parent’s least favorite phrase. You just got home from work, there are a dozen things to finish by yesterday, and you need to be at two different after-school activities in the next hour. And now you have to feed everyone a delicious meal—what gives? If you’re burned out on planning the evening meal but not excited about serving mac and cheese and dino nuggies yet again, we rounded up 11 easy family dinners to keep in your back pocket for those evenings when you just can’t. Some have store-bought shortcuts, and some use a slow cooker, but all taste great and require almost no prep work, yay!
Baked Ranch Bacon Chicken
With only five ingredients, you can make a rich and savory main meal with this simple recipe from The Cookie Rookie. The prep work is easy, and it all comes together in one casserole dish.
Salmon is a versatile and healthy fish that most kids will eat. This recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen Blog is ideal for busy nights because it’s a 30-minute meal with almost no clean-up required. What makes it especially good is the honey-dijon glaze you’ll use to baste it while it cooks.
3-Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells
Pasta is one of the most versatile dinner options on the planet. With hundreds of different ways to prepare it, finding one that takes almost no time is a win for busy parents. This easy family dinner recipe from Pinch of Yum takes less than 30 minutes, and the secret is in the sauce!
The Viral Baked Feta Pasta
This dish went viral on TikTok a while back, and this is the original recipe that made it happen. The longest part is the roasted tomatoes and baked feta, and Feel Good Foodie has a faster stovetop version for those short on time (who isn’t?). Either way, you’ll get a savory pasta dish you can serve alone or as a side. For picky eaters, you can remove the roasted tomatoes from their portion.
French Dip Sliders
Warm, gooey French Dip sliders for dinner? Yes, please! The hardest part of this easy family dinner from Eating on a Dime is the time you’ll spend sauteeing onions to layer on top of deli roast beef and provolone cheese. If you’ve got picky eaters at home, just skip the onions on a few of the sliders.
Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin
We love a good sheet pan dinner, and this one from No. 2 Pencil is as easy as it gets. It takes 25 minutes to bake this well-balanced meal in the oven, and with one pan to clean, it’s perfect for a night when you need something quick, filling, and flavorful.
Meatball Sub Bubble Bake
This is one of our favorite easy family dinners. Not only does it take 10 minutes to prep, but it also only takes about 20 minutes to bake. You’ll end up with a delicious one-pot meal with just four ingredients that older kids can whip up if you aren’t home. Get the recipe from Life with the Crust Off.
Pasta with Peas and Bacon
A house favorite, this quick pasta is so tasty that the kids will be begging you to make it every week. You can even use pancetta instead of bacon! Get the recipe here.
Slow Cooker Teriyaki Meatballs
Anything made in a slow cooker is a godsend for busy parents. This easy dinner recipe from Persnickety Plates uses frozen meatballs, teriyaki sauce (store-bought or homemade, depending on your preference), and pineapple. Serve over rice with broccoli.
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
This easy family dinner is great for busy nights because you can prep all the toppings while the meat and veggies are baked in the oven. One Lovely Life says you can use store-bought fajita seasonings if you don’t have time to make your seasoning blend.
Honey Garlic Shrimp
Shrimp cooks so quickly, and the marinating time in this super easy dinner recipe from Sally’s Baking Addition is only 15-20 minutes, so you can prep it, take care of something else, come back, and throw the shrimp in the pan. Five minutes later, you’ll be ready to serve it up. Our only recommendation is to cut back on the amount of honey.