30+ Family Dinner Ideas

When cooking for our families, most of us get into a routine of cooking the same easy dinner recipes every week.

All of us live busy lives, and routines make everything easier. For this reason, we tend to cook the same things every week in a reliable rotation. While this makes life and grocery shopping easier, variety is the spice of life. Why not do something different for fun family dinners?

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. We know what our families love to eat and we are happy to accommodate them for family meals.

Also, cooking the same dishes over and over makes mealtime easy.

raditional barbecue pulled pork piece of Bosten butt torn to bits as close-up on a board

Nevertheless, it’s nice to change things up occasionally. Also, when you try new easy family dinner recipes, you might just find a new family favorite.

Here are some family meal ideas that you can consider:

  1. Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and a Caesar salad
  2. Tacos or burrito bowls with seasoned ground beef or chicken, black beans, lettuce, cheese, and salsa
  3. Grilled chicken or fish with roasted vegetables and quinoa or brown rice
  4. Homemade pizza with your favorite toppings and a side salad
  5. Baked ziti with garlic bread and a mixed green salad
  6. Stir-fry with your choice of protein, mixed vegetables, and rice or noodles
  7. Roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans
  8. Vegetable soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
  9. Beef or vegetable stew with crusty bread
  10. Veggie burgers with sweet potato fries and a side salad.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. You can always mix and match different proteins, vegetables, and sides to create your own unique family meals.

The hardest part of your weekly healthy dinner planning should be finding new easy family dinner ideas.

Well, we’ve got you covered. Below, we have compiled the best 31 easy dinner recipes for family meals.

Source: Spendwithpennies.com

1. Best Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Who doesn’t love chicken and dumplings?

A big steaming pot of this country classic is the perfect way to end a busy day, especially when it’s chilly outside.

The dumplings for this recipe are rolled out and cut. However, you can use your favorite drop dumpling recipe if you prefer that.

Short on time? You can also use canned biscuits to make your chicken and dumplings.

The whole point of chicken and dumplings is that it’s an easy meal that is pure comfort food.

When it comes to chicken dinner ideas, you can’t go wrong with chicken and dumplings.

Source: Themagicalslowcooker.com

2. Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew

Sometimes called “Poor Man’s Stew” because it’s so affordable, there is nothing poor about the flavor in this savory soup.

The potatoes, carrots, and tomato make this stew incredibly filling and the ground beef adds tons of flavor.

For prep time, all you need is about 15 minutes. You can prepare this the night before and have it in the fridge.

Then, just pull it out in the morning and pop it into the slow cooker.

To make this delicious soup lower in calories, feel free to substitute ground turkey.

Source: Theseasonedmom.com

3. Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

Comfort food at its finest, tuna noodle casserole isn’t served as much as it used to be.

When we were kids, there were fewer households with two working parents, so whoever was working at home had to be creative in spending the food budget.

Tuna noodle casserole is easy on the budget, but what we have forgotten is how delicious it is.

You can use mushroom soup as listed, but then maybe you can switch things up a bit and try a chicken soup or ham soup version.

You can get equally creative with the veggies. For example, use corn instead of peas, and maybe try tomato or broccoli. Serve this casserole with a sweet potato to make it a homey meal.

Source: Momsdish.com

4. Pizza Rolls

Who said pizza rolls were just for kids?

Almost everyone loves pizza and these pizza rolls will satisfy even the pickiest eaters.

These savory pizza rolls are like your favorite pepperoni pizza that’s stuffed into a fluffy dough.

The filling is marinara, pepperoni, and Mexican shredded cheese. You can also use mozzarella cheese if you prefer that.

You can use your own homemade pizza dough or buy store-bought pizza dough. Either way, these are delicious.

This is the perfect easy recipe for a family dinner or an after-school snack.

Serve these pizza rolls with marinara sauce or another tomato sauce that you make or buy.

Source: Spendwithpennies.com

5. Easy Clam Chowder

Chowder is thick and creamy by definition, and this easy clam chowder will please a crowd or an intimate weeknight dinner.

You can use canned clams to make this delicious chowder, and the juices in the can of clams will add an even more delightful flavor.

Pack in plenty of potatoes and bacon to make this chowder even more filling.

If you want to go lighter with this clam chowder, you can use fat-free half and half with good results.

Source: Loveandlemons.com

6. Garlic Spaghetti (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio)

Do you love garlic? Then we have something you’re going to love.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (garlic spaghetti) is a garlic-lovers dream dish. And the Parmesan cheese sends this dish to the moon and back with goodness.

This pasta dish has simple ingredients and it’s ready to eat in 20 minutes, start to finish.

To add more flavor to this simple traditional dish, feel free to add a bit of parsley or a dash of red pepper flakes.

Serve this garlic spaghetti with some equally buttery and delicious garlic bread.

To make this pasta dish with meat, it would be delicious with chicken breast.

Want this dish to be vegan? Simply use a vegan Parmesan cheese substitute.

Source: Twoppeasandtheirpod.com

7. Ravioli Lasagna

There are times when even a small change can make all the difference in the world when it comes to what our families love to eat.

One great example is when you use ravioli instead of lasagna noodles to create a delicious ravioli lasagna.

The ravioli in this lasagna adds tons of extra flavor.

Even better, though, is that it adds a whole new texture to a traditional casserole.

You can even get creative and use any type of filled ravioli for even more easy family dinner ideas.

Source: Wildflourskitchen.com

8. Chili Cheese Dog Pizza

OK, so this isn’t exactly an elegant dinner.

However, do you want something elegant, or do you want something satisfying and tasty that your family will gobble up?

Whoever thought about combining two of our favorite meals (chili cheese dogs and pizza) was a genius.

The best part is that the adults in the family will be as excited about this fun pizza as the kids are.

Both homemade pizza dough or a store-bought version will work for this pizza recipe.

For adults, you can even add some hot peppers to make it a little spicier.

Source: Macheesmo.com

9. Quick Turkey Ragu

Also called turkey bolognese, this dish is ready in less than an hour, has loads of flavor, and is somewhat healthier than the traditional ragu that is made with beef and pork tenderloin.

This recipe uses ground turkey and turkey bacon, so you’re serving an incredibly low-fat meal to your family.

One thing that makes ragu so delicious is the red wine and fresh basil.

You can make the marinara sauce from scratch, but if you don’t have time, a store-bought marinara will work just fine.

You can serve this as a zucchini noodle dish if you’re feeling creative.

Source: Loveandlemons.com

10. Black Bean Burgers

If you’re doing Meatless Monday every week, how about giving hearty black bean burgers a try for a weeknight dinner?

Not every family member may embrace a day of eating no meat, but these burgers make it effortless.

Best of all, you can load your burgers up with all of the normal fixings. Try grilled onions, garlic, pepper, and feta cheese for a gourmet meatless meal that’s packed full of protein.

Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you may find yourself suddenly excited about Meatless Mondays when you know you’re serving these burgers.

Source: Asoutherngirl.com

11. Paula Deen’s Goulash

The chef and creative cook Paula Deen is responsible for several American dinner recipes, and one of them is her phenomenal goulash.

This ground beef goulash is similar to the goulash we all grew up eating, but it has so much more flavor.

The ingredients are fairly simple, and you can change it up as much as you want to for customizing the recipe for your family’s tastebuds.

To make it like a more traditional goulash, you can add bell pepper to the meal.

If you add veggies, add them towards the end of the cooking time so that they don’t become soggy.

Source: Spendwithpennies.com

12. Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

When you cook family dinner recipes in the slow cooker, it can be a huge lifesaver.

There’s nothing better than entering your home after a tough day at work and smelling dinner that has been cooking all day long.

When considering easy family dinners, this recipe for Dr. Pepper pulled pork is something everyone can enjoy.

The mouthwatering tender meat will melt in your mouth. Just take two forks, shred the pork, and serve it with some rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes.

Source: 40aprons.com

13. Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

When you combine two legendary favorites like pizza and Mexican food, you’ve created a dinner the entire family will love.

The best thing about Taco Bell Mexican Pizza is that it’s amazing for lunch or dinner.

The last time we checked, Taco Bell isn’t offering their popular pizza anymore. For now, if you want this addictive pizza, you will have to make it at home.

The beans, crunchy tortilla, tangy sauce, seasoned beef, and loads of cheese are so satisfying and tasty.

Want to go all out? Make some chicken tacos to go with your pizza.

You can also make this so that it’s vegetarian.

Serve this pizza with guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo to make it a full-blown feast.

Source: Plainchicken.com

14. Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenders

Cracker Barrel has cracked the code for how to beat exceptional flavor into the humble chicken tender.

The secret is using salad dressing to marinate the meat for tender chicken.

The salad dressing doesn’t just make your chicken tenders extra juicy. The salad dressing also adds tons of delicious flavor.

Something about the combination of the honey, lime, and Italian salad dressing is simply divine.

Also, you don’t have to marinate this chicken for hours. Just a few minutes does the job.

Then, fire up your grill or air fryer and you’re ready to cook. This chicken recipe is one of the best easy dinner ideas.

Source: Inspiredtaste.com

15. Fall Off the Bone Ribs

The secret to baking delicious ribs that will fall off the bones is to bake them slow and low.

In other words, ribs do best when they’re cooked at a low temperature for a long time.

For this recipe, the ribs bake for two to three hours in an oven that’s heated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, you have to be home to bake these ribs because they’re oven-cooked, but just pour yourself a nice big glass of wine and sit down and read a book.

Then, in a few hours, you will have the perfect dinner for your family.

These ribs are delicious with mashed potatoes or potato salad.

Source: Spendwithpennies.com

16. Potatoes Au Gratin

While potatoes are an amazing side dish, they can also serve as a main dish on a Meatless Monday.

And when a potato dish is as loaded with cheese as these gorgeous potatoes au gratin, you won’t leave the table hungry.

To make this dish even more substantial, you can even add some real crumbled bacon on top.

This goes great with a rotisserie chicken. With 15 minutes of prep, dinner is on the table quickly.

Here’s a tip: make sure your potatoes are thinly sliced.

Source: Natashaskitchen.com

17. Salmon Teriyaki

When it comes to meals that don’t need a lot done to them to be wonderful, salmon is our go-to fish.

The honey, lemon juice, and chili send this recipe over the top. You can even use simple garlic butter to make it more amazing than ever.

You can make homemade teriyaki sauce or use a store-bought version if that’s easier for you. Whatever you use, it will be delicious.

To make this salmon fork-tender, cook it on the stove with a lid on over low heat.

Serve with rice and veggies or a pasta side dish. Be sure to have some soy sauce for seasoning.

Source: Keviniscooking.com

18. Chicken Tuscan Pasta Bake

This delicious pasta dish takes only 15 minutes to prep.

Once your pasta is just short of al dente, simply mix in the sauce you’ve warmed up and bake the entire dish for a filling, thick, but perfectly light meal.

You can use storebought pasta sauce, but if you make your own, you have full control over the ingredients and how much salt you put into it.

This pasta recipe makes use of the most simple ingredients: milk, cheese, and cream cheese.

What you have is a dish that’s positively bursting with flavor. We love the vibrant kale and intense sundried tomato flavor.

Source: 12tomatoes.com

19. Reese Witherspoon’s Corn Bread Chili Pie

Who knew Reese Witherspoon was as talented in the kitchen as she is in front of the camera?

Cornbread and chili were basically made for each other, so we think she’s onto something.

This recipe calls for pork and beef, but you can certainly use a meat substitute or turkey if that’s what you want to use.

This recipe comes from Reese’s cookbook, “Whiskey in a Teacup.”

If you’re looking for a savory and filling one-pot dish, this will do the trick.

Source: Coolkingclassy.com

20. White Chicken Chili

We are always looking for healthy dinner ideas.

Chili is such a great meal to have on cool fall evenings, and this white chicken chili is full of protein and goodness.

When you make a big old pot of chili, it can feed your family for days. Also, this chili freezes well, so you can even put some in the freezer for busy weeknights.

The pale coloring is delightful, and the corn adds a satisfying crunch and sweetness.

To make this even easier, cook it in the slow cooker. Crock Pot chili is the best, isn’t it?

Serve this delicious chili with avocado slices and lime to make it super special.

Source: Justataste.com

21. Beef and Broccoli

A classic Asian-inspired dish, beef and broccoli is always a family favorite.

And just because you create it at home doesn’t mean that it’s not as delicious as the version you buy at your favorite takeout restaurant.

In fact, it’s even better. And this beef and broccoli is much easier to prepare than you think.

The secret to perfect beef and broccoli is marinating the meat. You won’t regret it.

You can serve this with rice or even pasta if your family prefers that.

Source: Simplyrecipes.com

22. Shrimp and Grits

Folks who grew up south of the famous Mason-Dixon line know all about grits.

A staple on southern tables, grits can be served not just at breakfast but at every meal of the day.

To southerners, grits are as ubiquitous as rice or potatoes.

And because southerners are so near the Gulf of Mexico, shrimp is a much-beloved seafood option.

When you cook the grits in this recipe in milk, it makes them super creamy and as smooth as a southern drawl.

Don’t love grits? Serve this delicious dish with some cheesy polenta.

Source: Sugarspunrun.com

23. Homemade Garlic Knots

Do you feel intimidated by the idea of making homemade garlic knots? Don’t be! It’s much easier than you would imagine.

Yeast isn’t as complicated to work with as people think. And you will end up with some delicious rolls that are brimming with garlic flavor.

You can make a big batch of these in advance when you have spare time and then freeze them up after you roll them into shape.

Then, just pull these tasty rolls out of the freezer when you want delicious bread to go with your family dinner. These garlic knots are great with pasta dishes or pork tenderloin.

Source: Copykatrecipes.com

24. Wingstop Garlic Parmesan Wings

Everyone has their favorite Wingstop flavor when it comes to their fried chicken wings.

Some folks love BBQ wings, and millions of people love spicy buffalo wings.

However, a classic favorite from America’s favorite chicken wings restaurant is the garlic parmesan wings.

These wings are crispy, cheesy, and salty. Most of all, they’re just oh so satisfying.

You can also prepare these in your Ninja Foodi air fryer or even in the oven if you’re cutting your family’s fat intake.

The best part about homemade garlic parmesan wings is that you can add as much Parmesan cheese as you want.

Source: Tastesbetterfromscratch.com

25. Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

Flavorful chicken and cheesy gooey Alfredo sauce make this dish exceptional.

Leftover rotisserie chicken works beautifully for this dish. Alternatively, roasted chicken that you made in the slow cooker is delicious in Alfredo stuffed shells.

When you make your homemade Alfredo sauce, it can take a little longer, but it’s totally worth it.

However, you can use a jar of Alfredo sauce from the grocery store. It will still be delicious.

Modify this recipe with some bacon and tomato to give it a different vibe for another family dinner.

Source: Simplyrecipes.com

26. Patty Melts

Patty melts are a classic diner meal that you can make right in your own kitchen.

Usually, a patty melt is served on toasted thick white, which sort of differentiates this down-home dish from hamburgers.

You can add horseradish to your patty melt to give it a grown-up taste, or leave it out if your family doesn’t like spicy food.

One thing you can do is experiment with adding hot sauce or chili. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of Swiss cheese or even cheddar cheese.

Source: Crunchycreamysweet.com

27. Fish Sticks Recipe (Homemade)

So your kids like fish sticks, but you want to feed them something a little more substantial than the frozen kind.

We get it. Why not make homemade fish sticks? It’s easier than you think.

Whitefish is a fish that you can find in your grocery store’s freezer section and it’s not very expensive.

However, you can make fish sticks out of any fish, including salmon or tilapia if you find it on sale.

The garlic powder and Italian seasoning make these homemade fish sticks perfect.

Source: Littlesweetbaker.com

28. Turkey Biscuit Casserole

Is there anything more comforting than a delicious creamy chicken pot pie?

Maybe. This turkey biscuit casserole is pretty comforting, too.

We love how easy this is. There’s no need for a homemade pie crust, and you can use canned biscuits if you want to to make it even easier.

Want to make homemade biscuits? Use the included recipe or substitute with your own favorite biscuit recipe.

This casserole is loaded up with delicious turkey and veggies, and a pinch of cayenne pepper adds an extra little kick.

You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken, chicken thighs, or chicken breast to make this wonderful dish.

Source: Budgetbytes.com

29. Cheeseburger Meatloaf

What does your family love more than meatloaf? Cheeseburger meatloaf!

Meatloaf is an incredibly filling and easy family dinner, and we sometimes forget about it because it seems boring.

However, when you turn a plain old meatloaf into a cheesy wonder loaf, magic happens in your kitchen.

When you’re mixing the ingredients, be sure you don’t overwork the mixture because it can make for a meatloaf that is less moist.

Use as much cheese as you want. We like cheddar cheese or even mozzarella cheese.

Source: Saltandlavender.com

30. Easy Taco Casserole

Tex-Mex food with taco seasoning is always a winner in most households.

Why not mix up your traditional Taco Tuesday and cook this cheesy and veggie-packed taco casserole instead?

Because it’s full of diced tomato, corn, and cheese, you can’t go wrong with this casserole. The family will love every single bite.

Think of it as a cross between piled-high nachos and taco lasagna.

Even better? It’s super simple to prep and cook this delicious family meal.

Source: Recipetineats.com

31. Shepherd’s Pie

When does English country food meet American comfort food? With shepherd’s pie!

How did this traditional English dish become one of the most beloved easy family dinners for busy Americans? We don’t know who first brought shepherd’s pie to the colonies, but we’re sure glad they did.

You can make shepherd’s pie with a variety of different ground meats, and this wholesome dish is traditionally made with ground lamb.

When it’s made with ground beef, this dish is actually called a cottage pie, but most people just stick with calling all of it shepherd’s pie. We’re OK with that!

Here’s a bonus idea: try cooking your shepherd’s pie in the slow cooker. It’s so easy and delicious.

Here is a video with even more delicious family dinner ideas. Enjoy!

raditional barbecue pulled pork piece of Bosten butt torn to bits as close-up on a board

Our 30+ BEST Family Dinner Ideas (+Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork)

These recipes are sure to please. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 44 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 275 kcal


  • 1 pork roast
  • 1 tsp. each garlic powder sea salt, black pepper
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 can Dr. Pepper


  • Put onion into the bottom of a Crock-Pot.
  • Rub the roast with the spices and put it over the onions.
  • Pour Dr. Pepper on top.
  • Cook for 7-8 hours.


Select your favorite recipe.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.


Calories: 275kcal
Keyword dr. pepper pulled pork, family dinner ideas
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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