It’s no secret that I love food and I especially love foodie-food but when cooking for a large family, foodie-food is not your typical weekday dinner! I have some go-to easy family meals that I make that are kid-friendly and just plain good.
These are the recipes that I pull out of the arsenal when I don’t have much time or when I don’t want to have to think too much about what to make for supper. Some of them are make-ahead meals while some are just fast and easy.
Our Super Easy Family Meals:
Breakfast for Supper – this is what I do when I am really pressed for time, have fairly empty cupboards or can’t think of what to make. Breakfast foods are a big hit around here so making one of my breakfast favourites for supper never gets complaints.
Mom’s Monday Macaroni – what makes it so easy is not having to cook the noodles before putting them in. It’s a one dish meal that requires minimal prep, has minimal mess and all of my kids love it!
5 Ingredient Pasta Shells – all of the food groups in one dish. What’s not to love about that?!
Penne a la Vodka – this is one of our favourite meals. All of us. It tastes like restaurant food, but is so simple to make. It is delicious and even our pickiest kids ask for me to make it. I make it usually a few times a month. So yummy! This dish is also one I make when we’re on vacation because it requires so few ingredients and I have the recipe memorized.
Chicken and Beef Dump Recipes – these make ahead meals take me between half an hour to an hour to assemble 10 of them which gives us meals for over a week. They use recipes the kids love and I love having meals in the freezer ready to pull out whenever I need them.
Taco Type of Meals – we really enjoy the flavours of Mexican cooking. We do eat tacos and they are always a hit. I also make taco salad, taco-style dips, nachos, burritos, and taco inspired pastas and casseroles. Anything using refried beans, ground beef or Mexican veggie beef, salsa, taco seasoning, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, jalapeños, lettuce, and avocados will get eaten by my kids.
Examples include this Cilantro Lime Chicken served in wraps, Freezer to Crock Pot Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos, Make Ahead Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa, Make Ahead Mexican Manicotti Bake, Taco Chili, and Tex Mex Pasta Bake. As you can see from that list, we are big fans of Mexican inspired flavours!
Easy Baked Pasta – I sauté whatever vegetables I happen to have on hand: onions, garlic, zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, etc. in butter. I place cooked pasta (usually fusilli or rotini) in a casserole dish and toss with sautéd vegetables, tomato sauce and spices. After those ingredients are mixed well, I top with grated cheese (cheddar, mozza, parmesan, asiago, jalapeño jack or a mixture of some of these) and bake. So easy!
Chili – I usually make this in big batches and freeze it so that I can just pull it out and throw it into the crock pot and have the house smelling like comfort food. I sometimes make popovers to serve the chili in.
Tater Tot Casserole – this recipe may not be the very healthiest so I try not to make it as often as the kids ask for it, but it is so easy! The way I make it produces two large casserole dishes which feeds our family for one supper or two lunches (keep in mind there are 9 of us!).
It is similar to the Duggar family recipe except that I don’t use the canned chicken soup at all, I use spicy ground sausage instead of turkey and I use two bags of tater tots instead of 3. Basically, it’s a totally different recipe than theirs when I think about all the adjustments I’ve made, but that is where I got the idea from! This is hands-down the biggest hit with my kids!
Mexican Lasagna – This meal (officially called Beef Enchilada Casserole) is from my favourite cookbook author Sandi Richard. It is a little bit more time consuming to make than the above meals, but it has such a comfort food feel to it and can be made ahead of time and cooked when needed.
It is also really easy to make two at a time and freeze one for another day or use both for a large gathering. I use Mexican veggie ‘beef’ in mine instead of ground beef.
Bonus: Soup Made from Leftovers – this one is so economical. It can stretch a small amount of leftovers into an entire meal and because the leftovers change, this soup is never boring. From the leftovers of some of the recipes above, in particular the Chicken Dump Recipes, you can make an entirely new meal.
Some other moms share their easiest family meals: