Time-Saving Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

For many families, evenings are a busy time. Between parents returning home from work, errands, and the children’s activities, there sometimes seems to be barely any time to prepare a nutritious family dinner. With that in mind, here are some time-saving dinner ideas for busy families that can be prepared in thirty minutes or less.


A stir-fry is a quick and highly customizable dinner option for busy families. You can use a frozen vegetable mix, or prep your family’s favorite vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and bell peppers. You can use protein such as tofu, shrimp, beef, or chicken. Have some stir-fry sauces on hand in your pantry, or create your own – for example, whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, then add ½ cup of chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. Serve with steamed rice or noodles, and you have a quick and complete meal.

Breakfast for dinner

Whether it’s eggs, pancakes, French toast, or waffles, breakfast food can be prepared quickly. Not to mention, it can be a fun treat for children to eat their favorite weekend breakfast during the week. Try scrambled eggs served with salsa and avocado, or with fruit and whole grain toast on the side. Serve pancakes or waffles with nut butter and plenty of fresh fruit or applesauce. To help make this process quicker, you can freeze your weekend pancakes by placing a sheet of wax paper between each one, and freezing the stack in aluminum foil.

Roast chicken

While roasting a chicken does take longer than 30 minutes, the meat can be eaten for days afterwards. You can either roast a chicken on the weekend, or pick up a ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store on your way home from work. Then, you can use the chicken for meals such as chicken tinga tacos, BBQ chicken pizza, or served as-is with your favorite sides.

No-cook meals

Not cooking dinner at all might sound strange to some, but it can save time and also help you clear out your fridge and pantry. Some examples of no-cook meals include: a platter of cold cuts, cheese, crackers, veggies and apple slices; or sandwiches and wraps, such as refried beans, salsa, shredded lettuce and diced tomato in a whole-wheat tortilla. These ultra-quick meals are ideal to ensure your child is getting proper nutrition and energy while also being on time for that evening’s activity.

Weekday evenings can be busy ones for many families, but these three time-saving dinner ideas can inspire a week of quick and nutritious meals in 30 minutes or less.