These are the 25 family dinner recipes that we serve over and over at our place. They are all absolute wins, so I just rotate through these dishes when I’m meal planning. Every other week or so I add something different. That’s how easy meal planning can be.
Each and every night I serve either a big salad or a big bowl of roasted or steamed vegetables alongside one of these dishes. Everyone in my family loves all of these family dinner recipes, however Max won’t eat any noticeable vegetable except tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers and seven peas. Yes, just seven.
We’ve worked our way up from one pea, but we got stuck on seven somewhere in 2012 and have never made it to eight. If I put eight on the plate, a single pea is left, lonely as a cloud. He’s 13-freaking-years-old. Kids, huh?
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25 family dinner recipes we eat again and again
2. Apricot Chicken
Has there been a kid born since the seventies who hasn’t enthusiastically declared this family dinner recipe a favourite? I can’t cope with the ‘packet soup’ version (I try not to do much processed food at all – except processed meats, because salami). I add ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon of ground coriander and a few grates of nutmeg to this Kidgredients recipe.
3. Tomates farcies
We went a little bit French a couple of years ago. A hangover that we’ve happily kept is this recipe for Tomates Farcies. All the yums and regularly requested by the kids’ friends at sleepovers too. Millions of French kids cannot be wrong.
4. Steak and salad
Image: Jamie Oliver
We eat steak at least once every other week and family dinner recipes don’t come easier than this one. If the budget is tight, we substitute sausages for the steak, but generally I buy steak on special in bulk and freeze it, so we get to have the good stuff. Cut the steak up nice and thin for the littles and if you don’t overcook it, it will be nice and tender. This is basically your standard meat and three veg meal – a necessity in every household.
5. Sausage and apple tray bake
Image: Al Richardson/Taste
Cor, this is so good. You can make it with alcohol-free apple cider, but I go with Five Seeds Crisp Apple because it gives such a lovely flavour. I’m pretty sure all the alcohol cooks off while the dish bakes. At least, the kids haven’t complained of a hangover or anything… find the recipe here.
6. Broccoli soup and homemade bread
You can skip the homemade bread bit and just make the incredibly simple soup instead. Note also that while Max will not eat vegetables, he will eat any kind of vegetable soup and lick the bowl. We eat a lot of soup. Other favourite recipes are:
• Curtis Stone’s Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
• Cook Republic Roasted Pumpkin and Chickpea Soup
• My Darling Lemon Thyme’s Creamy Lentil Soup
• My own Chicken and Barley Soup
• The Annoyed Thyroid’s Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
7. Meatballs and spaghetti
Image: Jamie Oliver
This is another Jamie family dinner recipes special. You want to meet these meatballs. I make them in the morning before school, store them in the fridge and pop them in the oven when we get home late. Don’t be scared off by the crackers – it totally works.
8. Veggie and lentil cottage pie
This sweet, luscious pie has the kind of texture and taste that converts carnivores to vegetarianism. The kids devour it, it’s easy to put together, you can make it in advance, it freezes well. Bloody winner, right? Serve this one with some steamed vegetables like pumpkin, carrots and peas.
9. Zucchini slice
This is as Aussie as Vegemite. Do you make zucchini slice at your place? It’s so good. I’ve always used this trusty recipe with added carrot, but the one by Create Bake Make with tomato looks good too. Leave out the bacon if you’re vego. You can also do what I do and add extra grated vegetables into the mix – sweet potato, carrot and fennel are all good.
10. Broccoli, zucchini and bacon pasta bake
Image: Louise Lister
This is another of my make-ahead family dinner recipes. I make it early in the morning, it waits in the fridge and I put it in the oven 30 minutes before dinner time. I often make this one without the bacon and it’s just (almost) as good. Get the recipe here.
11. Slow cooker butter chicken
Just wow all ’round for this dish. It tastes just like a takeaway curry, but I think it’s a little lighter. On weekends, I make my own naan to go with the chicken, but never on a weeknight! Set this up with the slow cooker on slow in the morning and it’s ready to eat at dinner time. Serve with rice and a big rocket salad.
Image: The Daring Gourmet
Admittedly the kids are a bit ‘sometimes’ about this recipe, but Bart and I loooove it. We first ate koshari at a little cafe in Cairo and we’ve never forgotten it. The first time I made this dish by The Darling Gourmet I found it fiddly, but once I got the hang of it, it just started to flow. You should definitely make your own Baharat spice mix. You’ll be amazed how good it makes any rice dish taste.
13. Fish pie
The idea of fish pie used to make me cringe a little (I’m not good at fish, although we try to eat it once a week). Then we had a fish pie at Sonia’s house one night and Max fell in love and insisted I make it, so I did. This recipe from Delicious UK magazine is the best recipe I’ve tried, it’s utterly moreish and not tooooo fatty boomsticks.
14. Homemade pizza
You have to believe me when I tell you that making your own pizza dough is not hard. Not hard at all. But even if it was, it would be utterly worth it. You can get that authentic Italiano flavour with your own dough and a super-hot oven (crank it all the way up). Add whatever toppings you like to your standard tomato sauce and mozzarella and you’re good to go. Here are a few of our faves:
• Marinated mushrooms
• Ham and pineapple (forever the choice of kids everywhere)
• Capsicum and salami
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15. Egg fried rice
This is a one-pot, throw-it-all-in dish that you can whip up in a jiffy from stuff you’ve got in the fridge or pantry. This fried rice is our ultimate ‘Sunday night’ dinner – the recipe you go to when you feel too lazy to cook anything else.
16. Oven-baked chicken tenders
Who knew that ‘fried chicken’ was so easy to make? Sometimes I marinate the chicken in buttermilk, lemon, dill and seasoning during the day, crumb and bake it ready for dinner. Get the recipe here.
17. Creamy chicken, bacon and spinach pasta
This recipe makes a nice change from Bolognese sauce and the kids go for it just as much. I pack the spinach into the dish to get the greens in without anyone noticing. There are a lot of ingredients, but don’t let that put you off. This is practically a one-pan wonder. You can make it ahead and then sprinkle with cheese and bake until heated through if you like.
18. Slow cooker beef
Image: Chris Chen/Taste
A beef casserole you can set and forget absolutely needs to be part of your family dinner recipes collection. This recipe from Taste is light enough to go okay on a summer night with a salad as well. We serve it with steamed broccoli and green beans and generally skip the sweet potato mash.
19. Sesame ginger tuna glaze
Image: Damn Delicious
This recipe from Damn Delicious is actually for salmon, but I just can’t handle the smell of salmon, so I make tuna instead. You can get all of the marinade and sauce ready in advance and then just put it together when you are ready to make dinner.
20. Poh’s meatballs
I probably make these meatballs from Poh’s Kitchen more than most other dish. The whole family can’t get enough. I double the recipe to feed the five of us plus have enough for lunch boxes the next day. The flavours are fresh and vibrant. Arabella loves the spicy sauce, but I make a separate batch for the other two kids without any chilli whatsoever.
21. Sausage casserole
A one-pan wonder that you could easily convert to the slow cooker (I recently found this excellent guide to doing just that). The recipe is called ‘easy’ for a reason. The flavours are mild and inoffensive and liked by every kid I’ve ever made this dish for. Get the recipe here.
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22. Asian-style salad
Sometimes I don’t want to have to cook anything at all, so I make this salad. I make this straight into everyone’s bowl, so I can change the rocket to iceberg lettuce and just add whatever vegetables any kid will eat into the mix (that’s pretty much all vegetables for the girls, tomatoes for the boy). The dressing is a hit with everyone.
23. Taco Tuesday
Image: Jamie Oliver
We have Taco Tuesday about once a month. I make Jamie’s Chilli Con Carne and put taco shells, wraps, grated cheese, diced tomatoes, mashed avo (although only Lottie actually likes avocado) and crunchy iceberg lettuce in the middle of the table. Tacos are such a sociable way to eat. I prefer to break up my taco shell, add the chilli, tomatoes and cheese on top and nuke in the microwave for a minute – instant nachos!
24. Pea + Ham Soup
Image: Chris Chen/Taste
A little friend was over for dinner last weekend and he loved this soup so much he literally licked his bowl clean. It’s a favourite across Aussie homes, but here’s the recipe I like best from Taste. I always use yellow split peas instead of green and I add a cup of lentils in for added flavour. We serve the soup with homemade taralli for substance and crunch.
25. Stuffed jacket potatoes
Image: BBC Food
I’m Irish, so you’re never going to convince me that potatoes are bad. Okay, I’m only a little bit Irish, but it’s the bit that matters. A stuffed jacket potato is so easy to prepare and so comforting and yummy, no matter the weather. I wrap a nice creamy potato like a Dutch Cream or Creamy Delight and bake in a 200°C oven for about 1 hour. Then I unwrap them and cover them with sweetcorn kernels, tasty cheese, chopped capsicum and basil, top with tasty cheese and bake for another 10 minutes. Oh my, these are so good. There’s a similar recipe that is a bit more involved at BBC Food. You can basically top these babies with whatever you fancy and it’s easy to make individual spuds so that everyone is happy.
So there you have it! My 25 favourite family dinner recipes. There must be at least one recipe here that your kids will really go for.
What’s your favourite for dinner?