These 20 kid-friendly meals are easy and delicious. And just as importantly, you can make them with what you already have on hand at home in the pantry.
(Please note that I can’t actually see into your pantry. If you’re missing an ingredient or two, well that’s between you and your pantry).
Whether you’re looking for a quick and healthy version of homemade mac and cheese, a delicious tuna pasta bake, or kid-friendly chicken meatballs that you can make at the end of a long day – I’ve got you covered.
And before I jump into the recipes, I also wanted to mention a few of my absolute favorite cookbooks for busy parents. If you get in a rut and want simple, easy to follow meal ideas, I would HIGHLY recommend Dinner: The Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach, as well as both Dinner Solved and The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman. These have been the best tools in my cooking arsenal, and I can use all the help I can get in the kitchen!
My own kids are ages 6, 3, and 1, and trust me when I say that I understand how painful a proposition dinner can be when you’re dealing with that age group!
My 3-year-old in particular seems to enjoying becoming his most defiant right at the moment the table setting goes out (by table setting I mean plastic plates and periodically, paper napkins. Not, like, fine china). It’s a special knack of his, just like his knack for making his body super stiff and impossible to buckle into a car seat when he doesn’t want to go somewhere.
But even picky children can sometimes be won over with a really appealing, kid-friendly meal option, and a good setup.
(We’ve found that using the Tripp Trapp chair (and Tripp Trapp accessories) at meals is very helpful for both our baby and toddler).
We all know about the importance of family meals, so we’ve got to find things that really work with our kids.
With that in mind, here are some great options for healthy and easy kid-friendly pantry meals.
20 Easy Kid-Friendly Pantry Meals
Pasta e Ceci; a.k.a., Pasta and Chickpeas or Healthy Spaghettios
Looking for a delicious one-pot 30-minute vegetarian dinner your whole family will love? Pasta e Ceci; a.k.a., the classic Roman recipe for hearty pasta and chickpeas are the modern day healthy Spaghettios. And OH MY GOSH, they are good!
3 Ingredient Tuna Salad – Cooking with Toddlers
Tuna salad is an incredibly easy recipe to make with toddlers, and this 3-ingredient tuna salad is as easy as it gets. It uses 3 simple pantry ingredients: canned tuna, mayonnaise, and salsa. YES, that’s it! This 3-ingredient tuna salad is surprisingly so good for such a simple recipe.
Quick and Easy Black Beans and Rice
This Black Beans and Rice Recipe is such a CHEAP, easy, healthy, and QUICK vegan side or main! This plant-based recipe comes together in only 25 minutes and uses canned black beans as a shortcut, without skimping on flavor or texture. My kids literally lick their bowls clean when I make this for them!
Skillet Cheesy Beef Tacos
Skillet Cheesy Beef Tacos are made in just one skillet and they’re easy to make with only 8 ingredients. Using common pantry ingredients, this meal is not only quick to make but easy to make with what’s on hand.
Easy Homemade Franks and Beans + VIDEO
Franks and Beans are a homemade beanie weenies recipe made with real beef hot dogs and less sugar than the canned version.
Homemade Vegan Boxed Mac and Cheese
This Homemade Vegan Boxed Mac and Cheese comes together in the same amount of time as the store bought version!
Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Nachos
This sheet pan sweet potato nachos recipe is an easy vegetarian nachos recipe, great for a quick weeknight dinner, or even a pantry meal! Make it kid friendly by letting your kids choose the toppings!
Kid Friendly Chicken Meatballs
These meatballs are a big favorite in our house and have been since my kids were babies. Give them a try!
Fall Family Dinner Ideas: Meatball Sub Casserole Recipe
A simple and delicious dinner that takes a popular sub sandwich and turns it into a family friendly casserole.
Easy Homemade Vegan Bean Burrito Recipe
We love this quick and healthy Mexican veggie burrito, it's perfect for meal prep or a to-go lunch. Easily customizable, this kid-friendly wholesome comfort meal is so filling, rich in fiber and a true family favorite
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole using simple ingredients you can find in your pantry. This meal mixes canned tuna, pasta, peas, cheese and a creamy sauce topped with panko breadcrumbs. Your family will love this easy and quick dinner!
One Pot Spanish Rice and Beans
Spanish Rice and Beans uses pantry staples to create a nutritious and flavorful one pot meal. Vegetarian, gluten free, and a complete source of plant protein, this easy dinner will become a family favorite.
Penne Rosa – Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce – Instantpot
Penne Rosa is delicious and super simple Italian Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce. This comforting pasta dish is filled with colorful veggies, tangy tomato sauce and touch of cream.
Hamburger Helper Skillet
Homemade Hamburger Helper Skillet is a great ground beef recipe with cheddar cheese, seasonings and tomatoes all ready in 20-minutes!
Easy Pizza Casserole Recipe (Pizza Pasta)
This Easy Pizza Casserole recipe is a family-favorite meal that is kid tested and husband approved! It’s a great main dish to feed a crowd, only takes 10 minutes to prepare, and is made with 9 ingredients!
Easy Tomato Soup Recipe
This delicious easy tomato soup recipe only takes 20 minutes to make and 6 simple pantry ingredients. It’s full of flavor, creamy and is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Perfect for the whole family.
Artichoke Pasta – Simple 10 Minute Recipe
Super simple Artichoke Pasta made with marinated artichokes, lemon, garlic and parmesan. This pasta recipe is ready in just 10 minutes and with a “no-cook” pasta sauce all you need to do is boil the pasta and it’s ready. Another great, quick weeknight dinner!
Healthy Tuna Pasta Bake
This Tuna Pasta Bake (a.k.a Tuna Casserole) is made with everyday store-cupboard ingredients and comes together in minutes. A great-tasting and healthy family meal!
Simple Pasta with Peas
Pasta with peas is a tasty 1-pot 10 minute midweek dinner that’s bursting with fresh taste! It’s a delicious, hearty and family friendly Italian dish (pasta e piselli). Plus it’s so easy and inexpensive!
Best Easy Chili Recipe (30 Minute Beef Chili + Video)
The BEST quick and easy chili recipe! Made in 30 minutes on the stovetop, this beef chili is a delicious family-friendly dinner!
Do you have a favorite kid-friendly pantry meal that’s a “go-to” in your family? Leave it in the comments below!
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