Need some quick recipes for back-to-school? These 30 minute dinner ideas are easy, healthy, family-friendly, and perfect for busy weeknights.
True confession. When I was in college I was borderline obsessed with Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals on Food Network.
Yes, apparently college was that exciting for me.
Any of my friends can attest to this. I know a lot of people find her annoying or overly cheery, but seriously, you’ve got to hand it to her. 30 minutes? And dinner is done? With a smile?
Yes, yes, and yes.
These days I would consider myself more of a Barefoot Contessa or Pioneer Woman convert, but I will never forget my Rachel Ray days.
R.I.P. Free Time to Watch Endless Food Network.
But let’s get back to why we’re really here. 30 Minute Dinner Ideas. The busy weeknight’s best friend.
(PS. you can grab my printable weekly meal planner pictured above, here!)
Now, you know I love Pinterest. It’s just, sometimes Pinterest-finds require so much prep that they’re really more weekend projects and less get-dinner-on-the-table-now.
Since most of us are preparing (or already) back-to-school, it’s time for quick, easy, family-pleasing dinners. Which, you can TOTALLY find on Pinterest (if you know where to look) – and don’t worry, today I’ll show you how.
Between packing lunches, and prepping waffles and muffins for the freezer I am sort of burned out when it comes to making dinner.
But at the same time, it feels to good to know that my freezer is stocked with nutritious, easy options for me and the girls.
Back-to-School Meal Planning Tip #1
Stock the Freezer (You Won’t Regret It)
Make a list of the foods your family eats most and set aside some time over the weekend to prep a bunch of food for the freezer.
If my 4 year old had it her way, we would eat pasta every night.
While it’s hard to disagree with that logic, I know my family needs wholesome, nourishing dinners with a variety of nutritious ingredients. By prepping foods in advance (and using tip # 2 below) I can avoid the pasta-every-night pitfall.
Back-to-School Meal Planning Tip #2
Use a List Pad or Weekly Planner (and keep it near the fridge, in your mom bag, or in some kind of “command center-type” location.
I like to jot down all of my meal ideas in the back of my planner. I also use this cute list pad from the Target dollar spot (pictured above) to plan out meals. I keep everything in my Happy Planner.
Back-to-School Meal Planning Tip # 3
Get Your Fridge & Freezer Organized
It’s much easier to plan meals and cook them when your fridge is clean and organized. I like to do this weekly before grocery shopping. If that sounds like too much to you, even cleaning out your fridge once a month is better than nothing!
Back-to-School Meal Planning Tip # 4
Make Life Easier for Yourself
Every weeknight meal does NOT need to be a showstopper. Weeknights are meant for quick cooking. Spaghetti and turkey meatballs. Fried Rice. Pizza on Naan bread. Simple ideas you can make while your kids watch a TV show.
What if I told you I could give you a TON of meal ideas (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – including pictures? Plus recommendations for my favorite healthy groceries, plus a printable weekly meal planner? Our Easy Toddler Meals Planning Kit is made for busy moms like me and you.
Back-to-School Meal Planning Tip # 5
Follow Me on Instagram (for Meal Planning Tips & Lunchbox Ideas)
I am always sharing the best meal planning tips, lunchbox ideas, plus my own weekly meal plans over on Instagram – I’d love for you to join me!
Alright, now on to the Meal Ideas. In honor of back-to-school time, today I am sharing 5 Pinterest finds, all of which can be made in 30 minutes!
That’s one school week full of easy weeknight meals. And you can easily create variations on these recipes by changing up the protein or starch.
I have made all of these recipes before, some multiple times (turkey chili mac), and can attest to the fact that they can all be made around the 30 minute time frame (this of course really depends on how many times you have to stop to referee your kids).
More Dinnertime Resources
- How to Plan Your Toddlers Meals (the easy way!)
- Printable Meal Planning Cheat Sheet
- What I Fed My Kids This Week
Easy Back-to-School 30 Minute Dinner Ideas
*Meal Planning Tip* – One way to make weekly meal planning much easier is to pick “themes” for each night. This helps to narrow down all.the.dinner.ideas into a few basic ideas based on your nightly theme!
Taco Tuesday: Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas from Kevin & Amanda
One Pot Wednesday: Easy Cheesy Turkey Chili Mac from Kitchen Meets Girl
Thursday: Kid-Friendly Sloppy Joes from The Many Little Joys
Pinterest Pro-Tip: Use Pinterest like you would Google.
- In the search bar, type in a key word.
- Below, you can see I typed in “30 Minutes”
- Then select “Your Pins” – so any pins that have the key word “30 Minutes” in the description will show up.
You could also search “All Pins” but usually I like to see what I’ve already pinned before I go searching for more (aka the blackhole that is Pinterest).
For more easy recipe ideas, check out:
- Life-Changing Meal Planning Hacks
- No-Recipe-Required Dinner Ideas from Real Moms
- Toddler Meal Planning Cheat Sheet
What’s your go-to weeknight meal? Any other quick, 30 minute meal ideas??
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