5 Quick Weeknight Meals That Are the Golden Ticket

I don’t dislike cooking. I actually enjoy when I prepare something delicious and healthy out of fresh ingredients. When I think something is particularly tasty, I continuously ask my husband, “Isn’t this good? Don’t you like this?”, while I secretly think to myself that I am an amazing chef.

In truth, I am not a natural cook. I am a recipe-follower for the most part. I have learned some flavor combinations, so I can make a stir-fry or marinara without consulting a recipe. But generally, I scroll Pinterest and flip through my stacks of recipe books to put together my menu for the week.

I do this on Sundays while looking over the family’s schedule. Tuesdays are Taco Night (of course) or some variant of Mexican food. Fridays are generally pizza and salad nights. And Saturdays are takeout.

I try to plan meals that are healthy, fairly easy, and (kind of) seasonal. But the true unicorn of family meals, the Golden Ticket if you will, is that meal that checks all the boxes above and that your children will eat freely, without complaint or nagging.

I’ve heard “This is gross! I hate zucchini! Eww!” one too many times after preparing the family meal. I grit my teeth and remind them they can say, “This is not my favorite,” and take a few no-thank-you bites. But really the best situation for all involved are those meals that everyone likes. Or at least, doesn’t hate.

So, here are five of them from my menu rotation that are fairly quick, basically healthy, can be seasonal, and are approved by my children. “Yum! This is good!” Those sweet, rare words.

5 Easy and Delicious Weeknight Meals

  1. Beef and Broccoli This is so quick and tasty – and truly better than takeout. Try it over brown rice or lo mein-style with whole wheat spaghetti.
  2. Mexican Pizza With the beloved Taco Bell Mexican Pizza disappearing from the menu, you might want to master this recipe. It’s a great option for Taco Tuesday with some mini peppers and clementines on the side.
  3. Pulled Pork Sandwiches This recipe might stretch the “healthy” criteria, but it nails the other objectives. This is tasty with pickles on a bun or alone. Add some mini carrots and apple slices on the side to up the healthy factor.
  4. Korean Beef Another super-quick option for dinner. You could swap in ground turkey if you prefer. Serve it over rice with sugar snap peas sautéed in sesame oil on the side.
  5. Copycat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches These are pretty close to the real thing! Serve with a side of raw veggies and fruit and some air-fryer French fries.

Now every family is different, so I can’t promise that your kids won’t say “ew!” when my kids say “yum!”, but it’s worth a try! Share your quick-and-easy-kid-pleasing meals as we all search for that unicorn of a recipe.

Jennifer Seeker Conroy worked for ten years as a reporter, anchor, and producer at television stations in Missouri, Iowa, and Oregon. In 2009, she moved back to her home state of Wisconsin and went on to earn an MBA from UW-Madison. Jenny now works in product management at CUNA Mutual Group and lives in Madison with her husband Tim, three sons, a daughter, two cats, and a dog. She's an avid runner, reader, and writer, and is passionate about supporting causes that benefit women and girls.

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