Easy Weeknight Dinners for a Family

While I love to spend time in the kitchen, there are those seasons in life where I need supper prep to be quick and simple. For those nights, I turn to several easy weeknight dinners that my whole family loves.

marinated chicken and a salad

Most weeks, there’s no place I’d rather be than milling around my kitchen with my apron on, stirring something on the stove or chopping fresh vegetables.

Occasionally, those weeks creep up where something is jotted down on the calendar for every evening and I begin to wonder how I will get a hot meal on the table while still making the engagement that is scheduled.

Having a home-cooked meal every evening is something that we value in our home. It’s my love language to my family, so to speak, so missing an entire week of full bellies isn’t an option. Easy weeknight dinners satisfy my need to plate a meal for my family even if I’m not there for supper.

Over the years, I’ve compiled several excellent recipes that can either be made ahead of time, or with little effort during seasons where time is of the essence. Today, I’m doing a little roundup of all of them to help make your evening hustle a bit easier.

taco grilled cheese on a white plate

Why do you need these recipes?

We all have busy seasons and for those of you who LOVE homecooked meals like I do, these recipes allow you be able to navigate those busy times with a warm meal on the table.

Why you’ll love these recipes

These recipes are all packed with flavor and are either “make ahead” or so simple that it’s no trouble to throw it together in a pinch.

Not only do they work great for busy seasons, they can be thrown together in 30 minutes or less and they are healthy and store well in the refrigerator.

chicken salad with a hard boiled egg on a wooden table

Marinated Smoked Chicken

This smoked chicken recipe is a huge crowd pleaser in our home. There are so many sides that you can make with this delicious chicken dish to round it out- salad, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, or corn.

The reason it made this list is because everyone in my family loves it. I don’t very often find a recipe that six people equally love, but this one fits that bill!

Besides it being absolutely flavorful, it is crazy simple. You throw the meat in a ziploc with the marinade and let it sit until you’re ready to cook it. You can either grill it or cook in on your stove or oven.

I share all of the cooking methods along with tips for the perfect chicken in my blog post!

meatloaf and roasted potatoes

Simple Meatloaves

You either love meatloaf or you don’t. I have always loved it, but my husband was on the “not so much love” side of things until the recipe. I’m telling ya, not all meatloaves are created equal. This one, though, is worth making!

The best part about meatloaf is that you throw everything in one big bowl, mush it around, and form your meatloaves. After that, you just bake and enjoy.

It is so simple and you are left with only one bowl to wash when it’s all over, which is perfect for busy weeks. If I’m in a pinch, I make the meatloaf, throw it in the loaf pan, and keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to bake it.

If we have afternoon appointments, this ensures that I all I have to do when we get home is bake the meatloaf.

We love eating mashed potatoes with our meatloaf. The meat and mash just go together.

a fall table with chicken pot pie being served

Chicken Pot Pie

Nothing says comfort food quite like chicken pot pie. With this recipe, you pile everything into a deep saucepan or baking dish and then top with biscuits or pie crust. Again, it’s a one pot meal!

I love packing ours full of extra veggies to fill up hungry bellies and give some extra nutrients to the dish. Whether you top yours with biscuits or pie crust, this dish is great to have prepped and ready for the oven.

If you are going to have evening events and you want to have the chicken pot pie done ahead of time, make the filling in a deep saucepan and keep it warm on the stovetop.

Bake your biscuits and put them in a bread basket with a towel over top of them.

When people are ready to plate their food, they can take a scoop of the filling and then top it with a biscuit!

how to use leftover taco meat with a colorful street taco

Street Tacos

The best part about street tacos are that every single ingredient can be prepped ahead of time. This is the perfect dish for picky eaters, too, because they can make their taco the way they want.

Street Tacos offer tons of opportunity for flavor, color, and nutrients if you add lots of veggies and things like red cabbage salad.

We have tacos every week, in one way or another, because there are so many variations. I also shared tons of ways to use up leftover taco meat in my post, which means that there are even more amazing recipes to look at in my street taco post!

sausage and peppers in a cast iron skillet

Italian Sausage and Peppers

If you’re feeling like a little italian, you’ll love this recipe. It’s another one pot meal that can be kept warm on the stove until people are ready to eat it.

You can serve this with noodles, rice, risotto, and so much more. I like making a loaf of french bread to serve alongside this dish.

My kids love bread and since this dish is all protein and veggies, it’s a good one to add some carbs to.

taco soup on a floral napkin

Taco Soup

One of the simplest ways to use up leftover taco meat is with taco soup.

This soup is about as easy as it comes. You plop a saucepan on the stove, open and dump the ingredients in the pan, let it warm up, and then it’s ready!

If your family likes beans, they are a great filler to use in this soup. We eat this with taco chips, shredded cheddar cheese, and some sour cream on top.

chicken taquitos being brushed with oil

Taquitos

We love mexican food, what can I say? Most mexican dishes are forgiving and can be made in advance. These delish chicken taquitos are no different.

The filling for these taquitos comes together in one bowl. You can make the filling ahead and bake the taquitos fresh. Or, you can go ahead and fill the tortillas the way the recipe instructs you to and bake them ahead of time.

These taste great hot or cold. If you need a great supper to take with you on your busy evening, these are great to take along. Pop them a ziploc after you’ve baked them and allowed them to cool. Place them in a small cooler with a couple of ice packs and let your family eat them like a cold wrap whenever it’s convenient!

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