We lead such busy lives, don’t we? Between nursery, childminder, school, work, after school and weekend activities, sometimes you get home and sigh at the thought of having to rustle up dinner for the family too. Following on from our very popular 10 Go-To Family Dinner Ideas Every Parent Should Know, here are 10 More Go-To Family Dinner Ideas to add to your repertoire.
My number one go-to family dinner dish when I know I have a busy week ahead is to make a batch of lasagne. I part bake it if I know we are not going to eat it that very same day, then finish it off.
It can also be frozen in portions, I use parchment paper as I find it much easier to defrost than foil.
#2. Fish Pie
Another handy dish to have in your family meals repertoire is fish pie. This fish pie recipe from Rachel Allen is straightforward to prep and have ready to pop in the oven when you come home from work, school, nursery, after school activities.
Or for something a bit different try our food writer Caitriona’s Buried Treasure Fish Pie recipe.
#3. Chicken or Fish Goujons
- first bowl has some seasoned flour in it
- second bowl has beaten egg
- third bowl has breadcrumbs (TIP: use up those last ends of bread loaves by whizzing them in your food processor then popping them in the freezer until you need crumbs for a recipe).
Dip each strip into the seasoned flour to coat it, then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs and fry in some sunflower oil on a medium heat, turning after a couple of minutes. Your goujon should be crispy and nicely browned. Fry them in batches and put on paper towel when they come out to drain off any extra oil.
#4. Toad in the Hole
This is real comfort food and my kids love sausages so it’s a winner in our house. I use this Toad in the Hole recipe from the BBC Good Food website which shows you how to make it in 4 easy steps.
If you’ve never made it before, this video by Marco Pierre White shows you how easy it is. As he says, “dinner in half an hour”.
#5. Chicken enchiladas
Another fortnightly offering in our house is what we call “chicken enchiladas”. I like to cook up a batch of my version of Mexican flavoured chicken filling and serve with tortillas and toppings. It’s probably strictly not enchiladas in Mexico but it’s my version and the family love them. For my “Mexican” chicken filling:
- Fry a chopped onion in some oil, add some ground cumin, ground coriander, chopped fresh or dried oregano and cook for a couple of minutes before adding cubes of chicken.
- Fry until the chicken is cooked then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a tin of mixed beans. You may want to add a little water if you feel it needs it.
- Bring to the boil then simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Then to serve the chicken enchiladas, I warm some tortilla wraps for a few minutes in the oven, then everybody makes up their enchiladas at the table with the tortillas, chicken filling, sour cream, grated cheese, guacamole, salsa and a green salad.
#6. Chorizo Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew
Also on my regular meals list is this chorizo chickpea and sweet potato stew. It is delightfully easy to throw together ready to rewarm later when everybody is super hungry. It also gets even better the next day, like many stews and casseroles.
Serve with some crusty bread and some baked broccoli which I discovered for the first time last year – easy peasy to make and, in my opinion, so superior in taste to steamed broccoli. Just chop up broccoli into small chunks, toss in a bowl with some olive oil and chopped garlic, salt and pepper, then bake in a roasting tin for 25 minutes in a medium hot oven. It really is delicious, even broccoli doubters may be surprised!
You can make them with minced beef, chicken, pork or turkey or even beans for a veggie option. You can make them up in advance and refrigerate them until you’re ready to grill them. And you can add different flavours to them to vary the recipe.
The basic idea is to mix your minced meat with an egg, some breadcrumbs then some flavourings like finely chopped onion, herbs, a bit of mustard, whatever you like really to add. Have a plate to hand and form patties out of the mixture. Here’s a nice recipe from Clodagh McKenna for gourmet mini burgers.
To accompany our homemade burgers, I like to make a batch of home made potato wedges – I just cut my potatoes into wedges and toss in some olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper and bake them in the oven while I’m making the burgers up, they usually take about 30 minutes in a medium hot oven.
And if you fancy having a go at your own burger buns, try our food writer Caitriona’s homemade soft white roll recipe.
#8. Tomato and Bacon Pasta
This is just so so easy to make. Just fry up some bacon bits in a little olive oil, then add some a tin of chopped tomatoes, some basil leaves, a little bit of water, seasoning, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Boil your pasta water, cook your pasta according to instructions – I usually cook for 1 minute less – then drain and add the pasta to your pasta sauce, as the Italians do, mixing it all well together for another minute over a medium heat. Serve with grated parmesan and a green salad.
Simple easy ready in under half an hour and the family loves it!
Friday night is pizza night in our house but I stopped buying shop made pizzas when I learned how straightforward it is to make the dough and sauce myself. I do buy pizza flour when I can get it but you can use bread flour, you just may need to knead the dough a bit longer to work the gluten.
First I make my sauce which is super easy – I throw some chopped garlic, a tin of chopped tomatoes, some basil, tomato passata or puree into some olive oil and simmer for 45 minutes. Then you can get on with making your dough using:
- 500 g / 17 oz Typo 00 flour or pizza flour. You can use bread flour too.
- 300 ml / 10 fl. oz water
- 15g / 1/2 oz dried yeast
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- Pinch salt
- Mix the dried yeast into the lukewarm water.
- Put the flour in a bowl, add the olive oil and salt then add the yeasty water.
- Mix and bring to a dough then knead for 10 minutes until elastic and smooth.
- Place back in your bowl and cover with a tea towel for at least 1 hour. The longer you can leave it the better.
- When you want to make your pizzas, divide the dough into pieces and roll each piece out as thin as you can and you’re ready to top it with sauce and different toppings. Everybody gets to choose their own toppings which saves any hassle with fussy eaters and kids enjoy helping to make the pizzas up.
- Bake each pizza in a very hot oven for 10-20 minutes depending on size.
#10. Beef Stroganoff
Another classic yet simple family dinner idea is Beef Stroganoff but instead of serving it with the more traditional rice as a side, why not try it with some pasta?
If you use a pasta like papparedelle which has wider strips it works perfectly with the creamy sauce.
Over to you now. What’s your go-to family dinner recipe? Share it with us in the comments below.