5 Easy Weeknight Family Dinner Recipes for Busy Nights

By Janel Plunkard, Publisher of Macaroni KID Springfield MO March 22, 2024

Weeknights can often feel like a whirlwind, with work, school, and extracurricular activities consuming our time. Amidst the chaos, it's essential to have quick and delicious dinner options that the whole family will love. In this article, we've compiled five easy and mouthwatering recipes to help you breeze through busy evenings while still enjoying a satisfying family meal.

At Macaroni KID, we skip the fluff and get straight to the good stuff. No need to scroll through pages of unnecessary content — our recipes are easy to find. Now let's get cooking!

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1. One-Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Assorted vegetables (carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, etc.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. In a bowl, mix lemon juice, zest, minced garlic, olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken breasts and vegetables on a baking sheet. Pour the lemon-garlic mixture over them, making sure everything is coated.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve with your choice of side, like rice or couscous.

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2. Quick and Easy Veggie Stir-Fry


  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (broccoli, snap peas, carrots, bell peppers, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • Cooked rice or noodles


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger, stirring for about a minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the mixed vegetables and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes until they're tender-crisp.
  4. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and toss until well coated.
  5. Serve the stir-fry over cooked rice or noodles for a delightful and satisfying meal. Add a protein of your choice, if desired. 

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3. Cheesy Baked Tortellini Casserole


  • 1 package (20 oz) frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 jar (24 oz) marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions, then drain.
  3. In a greased baking dish, layer half of the cooked tortellini, followed by half of the marinara sauce and half of the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat the layers.
  4. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired, and serve this comforting casserole to a chorus of delighted taste buds.

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4. Baked Honey Mustard Salmon


  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place the salmon fillets on the prepared baking sheet, and brush the honey mustard mixture over each fillet.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and your choice of side dishes like steamed vegetables or quinoa.

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5. 15-Minute Creamy Pesto Pasta


  • 1 box of penne pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
  • 2/3 cup store-bought or homemade pesto sauce
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, heat the pesto sauce and heavy cream over low heat, stirring until well combined.
  3. Add the cooked pasta and halved cherry tomatoes to the sauce, tossing until everything is coated.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired, and serve this creamy and flavorful pasta dish to delight your loved ones.

With these five easy and delectable recipes in your repertoire, weeknight dinners no longer need to be a source of stress. Whether you're craving chicken, salmon, or a vegetarian option, these dishes are sure to please the entire family without sacrificing precious time. So, take a break from your hectic schedule, enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and savor these delicious and quick weeknight family dinners. Happy cooking!

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