50+ easy school night dinner recipes

Back in March in the PWK weekly newsletter, I shared my go to meals for making week day meal time easier.  I actually do like cooking and baking and I like being able to spend time putting together wholesome food I know the family will like. Weekday cooking though doesn’t always come with the luxury of lots of time. It tends to come with:

  • Competing food preferences
  • Differing schedules with after school activities
  • Tired kids needing to be refueled
  • Competing demands of homework help, requests for play and catch up chatter

Weekday meals for those reasons at our house tend to be pretty basic. Many meals will be served once a fortnight, sometimes once a week if needed. While I love variety and want the kids to learn to eat a varied diet, there is something to be said for an easy to cook, nutritious meal that all the kids eat without complaint.

There are two main categories of the staple meals that appear on our weekly menu plans. I have listed them below, along with links to recipes for each category.

Quick favourties

Most of these meals tend to be wrap or self serve based. My kids love any meal that is wrap based. I will use lettuce as my wraps and the kids like to mix it up too.

Meals to cook ahead

These are meals that I can make in the morning which reheat well at dinner time. They are usually also meals that have good left over potential.

Reader suggestions and recipes


When I sent the newsletter out, I asked readers to send me their go to recipes. I have added those below also.

Please note that ones marked with an * were suggested by a reader and I searched online to find the best recipe I could for that type of meal, these are not my recipes and I have not tested them out.

Some readers very kindly sent me recipes too, they are marked with ^ and I haven’t tested them out either yet!

Kim’s DIY rice paper rolls

The kids can make it themselves and I just cook chicken breast and prepare the vegies that go into it. Too easy!

Back to the reader list

Bec’s sticky chicken

Mix together 60g soy sauce, 60g peanut butter and 30g sweet chilli and marinate chicken for as long as possible – then cook for 30-40 minutes. Serve with veg.

Back to the reader list

Anne’s tuna potato cakes

I steam and mash potato with butter but no milk, stir in about 3/4 of a tin of smoked tuna, shape into patties, coat with bread crumbs and fry in a little oil. Served with veggies.

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Lauren’s herbed beef and macaroni

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500gm minced beef
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 470g tin of tomato soup
  • 1 cup small macaroni
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • ½ tsp mixed herbs
  • Salt & Pepper

Method:

  1. Peel and chop onions, dice bacon.
  2. Sauté bacon in pan, add onions.
  3. Stir in mince, cook until browned. Add undiluted soup, water, stock cube, herbs, salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Cook macaroni in boiling water until tender. Drain well. Stir hot macaroni into pan and allow to heat through.

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Lauren’s macaroni bake

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups small macaroni
  • Big pan boiling water
  • 4 rashers bacon
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x 440g can tomato soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Method:

  1. Boil macaroni for 8 mins
  2. When cooked, drain well and place in a casserole dish
  3. Chop bacon. Fry gently with onion till cooked.
  4. Drain and stir into macaroni.
  5. Stir in soup, milk and grated cheese.
  6. Bake it at 190°C for 45 mins. Serve hot with a tossed salad and French bread.

Back to the reader list

PWK Menu Planning App

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If you are looking for further recipe inspiration, check out my complete list of Family Friendly Recipes. You might like to also check out the Planning With Kids Menu Planning App.

Menu Planner App

The kid friendly menu planning app allows you to:

  • Create weekly menu plans quickly, choosing as many meals per day as you would like to plan for.
  • Generate the shopping list for all the meals selected.
  • Modify the shopping list to check off items you already have at home.
  • Email the shopping list to yourself and/or others.

The most popular recipes from the blog have been included and more will be added on a regular basis. Each recipe lists the ingredients required, easy to follow instructions and a photo from the blog. The app is only $AUD1.29.

Please note this app is available in iTunes only and you cannot add your own recipes.

Want to make meal time easier, family life less stressful and spend more time with the family?

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Then Planned & Present is for you! It is an online course, spread over seven weeks and is a step-by-step guide on how to organise the chaos of family life while still leaving space to enjoy it.

Through out the course lessons I will take you on a journey that follows the path I have taken over the last few years. It is a path that has seen me move from feeling overwhelmed and out of control to……well – to Planned and Present!

Through out the seven lessons of the course you will work out where you are spending your time now, determine where you want to be spending it, then create plans and set up routines to get you there.

With the drive of wanting to be organised it can be easy to forget why we want to be organised – to be able to spend more time enjoying our family. The course teaches you how to establish plans and processes for those repetitive tasks of family life, allowing you to be more effective and efficient with your time, so you can be more present with your family.

To find out more about Planned & Present and sign up for the course head here – Planned & Present.