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Five Quick, Easy, and Kid-Friendly Weeknight Dinners

Updated on April 8, 2015


Does your family refuse to try new foods? Do you dread meal planning because you make the same meals over again? These budget-friendly meals can transform your family's taste buds, and add variety to your future meal planning, without breaking your wallet.

As a mother of three, and a wife to a picky husband, I was annoyed with making spaghetti, pizza, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs all the time. I would cringe at the phrase, "what's for dinner," because someone in my house would complain about the end result. As a New Year's resolution this year, I decided to find some recipes that used simple ingredients without spending hours on end in the kitchen. My lifesaver in this matter: Pinterest, Pinterest is an online social pinboard that allows you to find recipes, home remedies, crafts, and the list goes on. I found some quick-and-easy meals and even crock pot meals that allowed me a quiet dinner table once again. My top five list will begin....NOW!

Crispy Cheddar Baked Chicken

This first recipe comes from Pinterest. The first time I made this dish, I had a total of 15 chicken strips. By the time I was able to get my plate, only two pieces remained. Definitely a twist to the traditional oven baked chicken, but it is a five-star dinner for my family. Serves 4 to 6.

The Ingredients:

4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts

1 sleeve Ritz Crackers

2 cups shredded cheese (I use either monterey jack or mild cheddar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup milk

The How-To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Crush the sleeve of Ritz crackers until coarse (I use a food processor). Once crushed, add salt and pepper and mix.
  2. Spray a 9 x 13 glass pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Gather 3 shallow bowls. Use one bowl for milk, one for shredded cheese, and one for cracker mixture. Set bowls aside once filled.
  4. Slice chicken breasts into strips.
  5. Take strips of chicken and dip into milk.
  6. After milk bath, take strips and put them in the cheese bowl. Press the cheese onto breast until covered.
  7. Cover the strip in cracker mixture. Once again press onto breast until covered.
  8. After chicken is covered, put in glass pan.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 until all chicken is used.
  10. Put pan in oven, and let bake for 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is fully cooked.

Recommended Side Dishes: Mashed potatoes, mac n' cheese, any vegetable of choice.


Sweet Kickin' Chili

This chili has the best of both worlds-sweet and spicy (but not 5 alarm spicy). Trying to cater to those sensitive taste buds was not easy, but after playing with this recipe, I got my niche. My oldest son says that this chili is the best he has ever had. Mission accomplished! This batch serves 6 to 8.

The Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef or ground turkey

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 can black beans

1 can red kidney beans

1 small can tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp chili powder*

2 tsp brown sugar*

*these ingredients are used as "to taste"...yours may vary!

The How-To:

  1. Brown meat in skillet. Drain grease, and add chopped onion. Simmer meat and onion for 5 minutes.
  2. In crock pot, add beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, and brown sugar. Mix until you get desired sweet and spicy.
  3. Add meat and onions. Mix well. Turn crock pot on low for 2 to 3 hours.

Recommended "add-ins": cheese, crackers, cornbread, tortilla chips

Sweet or Spicy

How Do You Prefer Your Chili

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Crock Pot Fajitas

This is another crock pot favorite. With very few ingredients, and lots of flavor, this meal has pleased a crowd. One batch of this makes about 12 fajitas.

The Ingredients:

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 medium yellow onion

3 to 4 chicken breasts, thawed

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 squirt of lime juice

taco seasoning to taste

The How-To:

  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Slice onion and peppers. Arrange in bottom of crock pot.
  3. Lay chicken breast on top of onion and peppers.
  4. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth.
  5. Sprinkle taco seasoning on top of chicken.
  6. Squirt small amount of lime juice on top of chicken.
  7. Apply lid to crock pot. Turn on to low, and allow 6 to 8 hours to cook.
  8. After cooking, shred chicken in crock pot. Allow to simmer another 20 minutes.
  9. Add to tortillas, and enjoy!

Optional Toppings: cheese, sour cream.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Ever have a time when you are almost out of groceries, and don't know what to do with random things in your cabinet? This was how this dish was born. Rice is not a well liked food in this family, but you add cheese to it, and the kids don't think the rice exists. This dish serves 4 to 6.

The Ingredients:

4 to 5 chicken breasts

3 cups brown rice (I use the quick cooking rice)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (you can also use cream of chicken)

1 bag mixed vegetables

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

The How-To:

  1. Spray a 9 x 13 glass pan. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Boil chicken breast in pan of water until fully cooked.
  4. Cook rice, as directed on package. Once cooked add soup and vegetables. Let cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Spread rice mixture in glass pan. Arrange chicken on top of rice mixture.
  6. Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over chicken.
  7. Put casserole in oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Optional Ingredients: Any cheese works great for topping. For a crunchy effect, add some crumbled crackers to the top and bake for additional 5 minutes.

Crock Pot Beef and Noodles

While digging through cookbooks, I came across this recipe. This was one of my favorites as a little girl. This can be done either over the stove or in the crock pot, depending on time. This batch serves 4 to 6.

The Ingredients:

1 package of beef tips, cubed

1 envelope onion soup mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 16 oz box elbow macaroni

Salt and pepper to taste

The How-To:

  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Add beef tips, onion soup mix, salt, pepper, and mushroom soup to crock pot.
  3. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Before serving, bring 6 cups of water to boil. Add macaroni to boiling water, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Drain macaroni, and add to crock pot.
  6. Mix macaroni and beef, season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Recommended Sides: Mashed potatoes, salad, baked potatoes, any vegetable, dinner rolls.

The Conclusion

If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, please leave them below. I will be happy to answer them as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you do like what I have posted so far, look forward to more of them to come!!!

Tyane M.

Survey Time!

Which of these recipes would your family like?

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    • TMilem924 profile image

      Tyane M. 5 years ago from Indiana

      Thank you! I hope you like the recipes. If you have any questions or suggestions to them, let me know!!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      I love the title of this hub! Since my husband is a picky eater, I can totally relate! As a Mexican food lover, I especially like the fajita and chili recipes. Can't wait to try them!