We’ve rounded up 40 of the best easy family dinner ideas from the Instant Pot to 30 minutes or less meals, we’ve got you covered.
Weeknights are busy for families. Juggling jobs, school, extracurricular activities, errands, and other commitments. While dinner should be a time for families to relax and connect, it’s sometimes one more stressful element of the day. We often throw in the towel and zip through the drive through or call in for take-out so we can just get everyone fed.
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We’ve put together a list of recipes for meals that can be prepared in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, recipes that are 10 ingredients or less, 30-minute meals, sheet pan meals, and more. Some are healthy, some maybe not as much, but we guarantee they are all delicious. We’ve even thrown in a few that make large portions so you can save some for a heat-and-eat meal later, and as many as possible that won’t come with an excessive grocery bill.
Enjoy your family meals again with these weeknight dinner ideas. You might find your new favorite recipe, or even one that the kids can throw together themselves (score!).
Weeknight Dinner Tips
When we say easy, we mean easy — We all know that when a recipe calls for time spent skewering cubes of meat, spiralizing vegetables, or lining individual cups of the muffin pan, the time commitment significantly increases for us home cooks. Stick to dinner recipes that don’t require these extra steps.
Buy pre-sliced products. Seriously. You won’t regret it. I used to think whole was fresher and better, but the stress I’ve saved myself by eliminating that extra time spent cleaning and chopping (not to mention the extra cutting boards and knives that I’ll have to clean up later) has been a sanity saver. Shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms, prechopped broccoli, shredded lettuce – it’s all in my veggie drawer so I can just throw a handful in and go.
The same goes for shredded cheese. Yes, some recipes will say freshly-grated. It’s 100% acceptable to use pre-grated cheese.
Use your slow cooker, pressure cooker, instant pot, and air fryer. I have one of those combo rice-cooker/slow cooker machines from Costco and I randomly throw rice in the pot to keep in the fridge for when we need a quick side dish. I also regularly use it for slow cooker carnitas, pot roast, mongolian beef, and soups. It’s a lifesaver.
Make things ahead of time, and double the batch. I know you’ve heard it before, but making an extra meal on Sunday night will get you fed fast on Tuesday, and when there are leftovers in the fridge, you’ve always got something to take for lunch or for tomorrow nights meal.
Easy Family Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights
When weeknights get busy, get dinner done in minutes. Here's a list of easy meals that will feed the family quickly, so you can enjoy less time cooking and more time together.
Chili Mac and Cheese combines the best of two beloved dishes for a truly outstanding yet quick-to-make comfort food. Make this one-pot meal on a weeknight for an easy, filling meal in under 30 minutes!
This Walking Taco Casserole recipe is an easy weeknight meal that has all the flavors of tacos with the crunch of corn chips, too. It’s a favorite with our family (and especially me since it’s so quick and simple to make)!
This easy Instant Pot Jambalaya is the BEST! It has chicken breast and Cajun sausage for a wonderful flavor, and you can easily add shrimp. All your Jambalaya questions are also answered, so don’t miss this one.
Make a batch of this Instant Pot pulled pork and use it for multiple meals -- pulled pork sandwiches, tacos or quesadillas, or throw it on top of a baked potato. We even love ours crisped up in the pan and scrambled into eggs for breakfast.
This easy recipe for Szechuan Gourmet Beef Pasta is a family staple and a reader favorite. Flavorful ground beef and pasta make it easy to skip the takeout and still keep weeknight dinners delicious! So much simpler than traditional Szechuan Beef and just as flavorful.
Make this even quicker by prepping a batch of pancakes on the weekend to use for meals during the week. We let them cool, throw them in a Ziplock bag, and put them in the fridge for the kids to heat and eat.
This pot roast recipe uses a chuck roast, then adds balsamic and Dijon for an amazing flavor twist. Make it in your slow cooker or the Instant Pot for a complete and delicious comforting home cooked meal with minimal prep time.
Got 5 minutes and some leftover steak? Then you’ve got time for this seriously delicious Faux Pho recipe. This recipe is for two servings, so if you're cooking for a family you'll want to double the recipe.
No canned soup. No draining potatoes. So simple and flavorful. Instant Pot Potato Soup is the best thing you’ll make in your pressure cooker! Serve it with garlic bread or a salad and you've got a hearty meal in minutes.
Heidi Deal is an editor, mother of two, and seasoned home cook who enjoys experimenting with new recipes and teaching her kids how to prepare family meals. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends.