15 Tasty Ideas for Standby Easy Dinners for the Family

Every parent has a stand by recipe. You know the one you turn to when you need to rustle up a meal, one you know the family will eat without fuss. We were curious what other parents cooked so we asked Mykidstime parents to tell us. Here are 15 Tasty Ideas for Standby Easy Dinners for the Family that they shared with us:

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#1. Pasta

courgette pasta

  • “Pasta and pesto with fresh peppers, tomatoes and cheese.” – Kirsty
  • “Linguini in zucchini sauce & creamy tortellini in spinach” – Val
  • Tracey Lynn recommends “Hamburger helper and honey butter biscuits”.

In our house pasta with courgette, lemon and capers is a standby that I cook regularly.

#2. Soup

pumpkin soup

“Soup. Never fails..” says Marinda while Shannon’s standby is “Grilled cheese and soup” and Nikki says “Pumpkin soup” never fails for her.

The great thing about soup is you can either have it prepped in advance, defrost quickly from the freezer or rustle one up in less than 1/2 an hour.

My standby quick pea and ham soup has only 4 ingredients: onion, bacon bits, frozen peas and ham stock.

#3. Chicken Stirfry

chicken stirfry

“I dice the chicken and throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand.” advises Kelly

This is a good one to use up chicken leftovers from a roast chicken dinner. If you don’t have a stir-in sauce to hand just mix some grated ginger, soy sauce, lime and a spoonful of brown sugar for a very quick stirfry sauce.

#4. Chicken Chow Mein

chow mein

“Chicken chow mein is my standby because it’s a one pot meal and pretty much just a throw in and leave thing.” says Jade

Here’s a nice recipe for Chicken Chow Mein. If you marinate your chicken before cooking, it will also tenderize the chicken nicely.

#5. Sausages


Maura says “sausages with potatoes, beans, red onion and gravy!” is a standby in her house.

I always keep a packet of sausages in the freezer just in case I need a quick meal, for example, grilled sausages with mashed potato and peas. Sometimes I make a red onion marmalade using olive oil, sliced red onion and a spoonful of brown sugar to caramelise the onions.

Recommended Reading: Homemade Sausages

#6. Spaghetti Bolognese

Ballymaloe Spaghetti Bolognese

One of my family’s absolute favourites is spaghetti bolognese. I use Antonio Carluccio’s recipe for ragu which uses pork mince with beef mince – I think it lightens it a bit using the pork too.

Or make some yummy meatballs with lamb or beef mince and hey presto you have spaghetti & meatballs.

#7. Chicken & Leek Pie

chicken potpie

Another ingredient I keep in the freezer is a packet of ready-made shortcrust pastry.

After a roast chicken dinner, I combine the leftovers with bacon, leek and mushrooms in a white sauce and bake with a pastry top for an easy chicken & leek pie. You can make one big pie or if you have ramekins or mini pie dishes you could make small individual pies.

#8. Macaroni & Cheese

macaroni cheese

Chandra’s suggestion for serving “Mac and cheese with chicken breast and green beans” sounds like a delicious meal.

To make macaroni and cheese extra tasty, just add bacon bits and leek and make a breadcrumb topping.

#9. Chicken Vol Au Vents

chicken vol au vent

Elaine swears by “Chicken vol au vents with creamy mash and veg. Yum”

Another handy thing to keep in the fridge or freezer are vol au vent or puff pastry cases. You can rustle up chicken vol au vents very quickly by making a tasty filling.

#10. Burgers


Make home made burgers quickly by mixing your chosen mince or mixed beans blitzed in the food processor if you want to go veggie with an egg and a handful of breadcrumbs (another thing I keep in the freezer is ends of bread whizzed up into breadcrumbs) and then optional extras like

  • finely chopped onion or shallot
  • whatever herbs you have
  • a small spoonful of mustard
  • some grated apple if doing pork burgers
  • a dash of Worcester sauce

Then wash your hands and get stuck into the mix to make your burger patties. Clodagh McKenna has a nice recipe for mini burgers which kids love too.

#11. Home made pizza


“I’ve got a bread maker so the dough isn’t too much of a chore.” says Bunty

Christine also keeps pizza in the freezer “It’s always in the freezer and I use it as my backup plan if they ever refuse to eat what I’ve cooked… like if I make something with ground beef, my 10 yr old will not eat it, so she gets pizza that night.”

Here’s a recipe for quick pizza dough and how about smoked salmon pizza for a change?

#12. Lasagna

lasagne recipe

If you asked my youngest what her desert island meal would be she would say Lasagne. If you’ve never made it from scratch before it’s much easier than you think, here’s my super delicious super easy lasagna recipe.

#13. Chicken Curry

Chicken curry

For a quick curry option, I keep a jar of Patak’s curry paste in my store cupboard (NB paste not sauce). Then I can rustle up a curry by adding onion, fresh ginger, choice of meat and veggies. Then for the liquid in the sauce either add a tin of coconut milk or a tin of tomatoes / squirt of tomato puree+water.

#14. Shepherds Pie

Shepherds Pie

Apparently if it’s lamb mince it’s Shepherds Pie and if it’s beef mince it’s Cottage Pie. Whatever name, the classic mince on the bottom, mashed potato on top combination is the ultimate comfort food too. Add grated veggies to your mince mix when cooking to sneak some extra veg in.

#15. Rice and Veggies

rice with vegetables

“Rice with soy sauce and veggies” says Ashley.

I sometimes use my roast leftovers to make a quick stir fry, here’s a tip I picked up from Jamie Oliver: to make a Korean style sauce just mix some BBQ sauce with chilli sauce and soy sauce.

Over to you now. What’s your standby recipe for easy dinners? Share it with us in the comments below.

Easy Dinners

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls