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.

Back to the reader list

Lauren’s herbed beef and macaroni

Serves 4


  • 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


  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.

Back to the reader list

Lauren’s macaroni bake

Serves: 4


  • 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


  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

Want to make feeding the family easier?

To help families kick start their weekly meal prep habit, I have created an online course called Meal Prep Primer! Meal Prep Primer shows you how to effectively plan your time in the kitchen over the weekend, and prep food that will make your week days easier.

To keep on top of feeding the family, many years ago I started spending some time on the weekend, prepping food for the week ahead. Even if it is was just one or two things, the difference this made during the week was huge.

As I was rewarded each week for my efforts in the kitchen on the weekend, I began increasing the food I prepped. And the more weekly meal prep sessions I did, the better I became at it. The better I became at it, the less time it took me to do the sessions and the better we ate – win-win all around!

In my Meal Prep Primer course I will teach you the process I have developed over these years. The course will:

  • save you time
  • save you money
  • save you stress through the week days
  • ensure your family eats well
  • allow you to enjoy meal time more with the family

For three weeks you will receive:

  • A plan –  the plan outlines what you will be cooking and when. You can tailor this plan to suit your family’s needs and the time you have available. The plan also has clickable links to all the recipes you need to cook for the weekend.
  • A shopping list –  as you may tailor the plan to suit your family’s needs, the shopping list is broken down into items per recipe. That way you can easily cross off items you don’t need to buy, but make sure you have all the ingredients for the recipes you do intend to cook.
  • The recipes – a PDF of all the recipes you will need to cook for the week.
  • Plus there is a detailed video and other resources on the course website and further support emails to keep the habit going after three weeks.

You can read more and sign up for the short course here.