I think it’s safe to say that any household with kids falls into the category of “families on the go.” And this applies to stay at home parents, parents who work out of the house, families with young kids and older kids. Let’s face it, kids equal chaos, and it takes more advance planning than any of us care to admit to feed kids before they get hangry, let alone when it comes to using healthy recipes and staying within a budget.
I was sure I’d have it all together when I started working from home, but the fact of the matter is that meals get even more chaotic, if that’s even possible. And this is because time sneaks up on me more when I’m at home (or running errands), than it ever did when I was at work. So often, it’s 1:30 then 2, then all of a sudden it’s 3:10 and I’m late to snag my kid from school, let alone get dinner going.
I know I’m not alone, so here are 10 of my go-to recipes for feeding hungry kids quickly.
Panko Chicken Breasts and Roasted Veggies
Costco sells amazing frozen Panko-crusted chicken breasts. This is one of my go-to meals. Yes, it’s not cooked from scratch but on nights when we have swim lessons or some other activity and need a quick meal, this is one of my go to’s! Pre-heat the oven, pop some chicken breasts on one sheet, and then pop some sliced mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli florets, and mini carrots onto another – drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper and 20-30 minutes later, DINNER! If you don’t have a Costco or haven’t drank the Kool-Aid yet, then this can be replaced with some other type of chicken (check your label). And even my picky eaters who are suspicious of veggies love this.
Pepper Steak Freezer Meals
Okay. You’ve got me. This takes a bit of advance prep and planning, but if you can remember to pull out the crock pot in the morning or midday, this is killer. Spoiler alert: I almost never thaw the freezer meal before tossing it into the Ninja, just set on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 and then enjoy. Check out my recipe here. It’s delicious. Everyone loves it.
While this takes a little more advance prep, it takes virtually no advance planning. These are a HUGE hit in our house. We make 2-3 dozen at a time, and then pop them into the microwave for eating when we’re hungry. Literally 3 minutes (counting cooking and waiting to cool down a smidge plus adding any salsa or sour cream), and your meal is on the table. See how easy they are here. These are also great for families on the go. Cook them, and then load everyone into the car and hand these tasty bites out.
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos
I originally used the recipe from Oh She Glows! but since I am not a fan of vegan cheese, I typically don’t use that, and instead use regular cheese or omit cheese altogether. She is my hands-down favorite vegan blogger, and when I had to go dairy-free she was a staple in my life. I’ve made these with quinoa and just about any other kind of beans. It all works…and sometimes I’ll even add ground beef or turkey for my “You know, this would be better with meat” husband. Check out my version of this recipe here. If you use pre-cubed squash and leftover rice or quinoa, the prep time shrinks to almost nothing.
DIY Taco Bar
This is another common find in our house. Brown up some ground meat with onions, add in some taco seasoning, and then fill bowls with salsa, lettuce, and shredded cheese. Everyone can either build their own tacos then, or a taco salad and top with their favorite add-ons.
Rotisserie Chicken & Salad
Back to Costco we go. This time for their legendary rotisserie chicken and bagged salad. For $10 or so you can feed a family of 4-5 and have some leftovers. I find I’m more likely to eat a salad at home if it’s bagged because it’s so easy….plus it usually has the best flavor and texture combinations. And the easy button is important to me as a mom! Bonus tip, pop that carcass in your freezer for the next time you want to make soup or broth. It’s soooo good. Plus that leftover meat can go into a killer chicken salad recipe, which leads me to #7.
Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches
This has almost no prep time. All you need is some leftover chicken. I also have made it with canned chicken. And as much as I don’t like canned meats or fish, canned chicken really stands alone to me. Don’t like curry? The world is really your oyster here. You can omit the curry powder and sub relish (or celery, or nothing) for the bell pepper for a great healthy meal for a family on the go. Here’s my go to recipe. Word to the wise: This is not a good meal on the go though, chicken salad sandwiches can and frequently do get quite messy. Egg salad sandwiches and salmon salad sandwiches are also popular in this house, even combined, like this recipe.
This can either be a slow cooker recipe, or a speedy one-pot recipe depending on how organized you are. Both ways are good and it’s a big hit with my family. If you’re thinking chili, you’re pretty close to the mark, but flavors are a little more like tacos, because well, it’s the soup version of a taco bowl. Get the recipe here.
Creamy Bacon Kale Salad
I really really love eating from our garden. And I love how hard it is to kill kale (and also slugs don’t seem to care for it). I made this for a family party, and even my picky kiddo loves it. Seriously. If it’s green and not being used as a vessel for ranch, it’s not his thing. Maybe the secret to this is the bacon. I buy big bags of bacon bits (real bacon bits) from Costco, and I throw them liberally into this. Add chicken if you want some more protein. Try it for yourself here.
Ranch Style Hash
This is one of my husband’s FAVORITE meals. Seriously. I’m actually sitting here munching on leftovers as I type. I always forget how good it is. And I always love it. Everyone does in this family. We tend to not add cheese to the main dish, since we have differing levels of dairy sensitivity in this house, but it’s amazing with or without cheese. I actually almost prefer it without. Check it out here.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to put together a quick meal for tonight or seeking inspiration for your meal planning efforts, there are some really solid options here that I think you’ll love. And with all of us super busy, most of these 10 options are perfect for families on the go, or even just hot mess moms who need a hand getting things done!