If you’re sick of cooking and out of ideas, I’ve got you covered! Keep mealtime simple and stress-free by rotating through these 14 kid-friendly dinner ideas during the coronavirus home quarantine.

This post shares 14 different dinner ideas to feed a family. It also shares some guidelines to weekly meal planning, like choosing a variety of protein options, vegetables and side dishes. It also shares the importance of keeping dinner options simple during this time. Use this meal rotation during your shelter-at-home and coronavirus quarantine, and any time you can’t figure out what to make.

We have officially started week 3 of our new coronavirus reality. How are you holding up?

Brian and I are adjusting to our work-from-home together life, while the kids are creating their own new schedule – staying up late, sleeping-in until 10:00 am and when they’re not sleeping, they’re eating. And, there is a lot of eating goin on. A lot of eating.

Tips To Stay Sane While Sheltering- At-Home

I’ve read great posts this week sharing strategies to manage these times. Tips like keep to a schedule, find time to get outside, play family games, and use the time to do things you don’t typically have time to do. I agree – it’s so important to maintain some structure when so much is out of our control. Being productive can help you stay positive and energized.

We all face different struggles during this time, though. Staying structured, busy and productive isn’t a problem for me, but like many parents with the entire family home all day long, I have other challenges.

Aside from the little things that go with having everyone home– like endless crumbs on my kitchen floor and constantly finding open food containers in the pantry, it’s meal planning that I find the most challenging. Every time I turn around someone is hungry. The amount of food three growing teenagers can consume in a day is something you have to experience to believe. I’ve been feeding this family for years, and the last few weeks have even left me, in awe. I cook a lot, yet I’ve never cooked so much in my life.

I’m hearing this from other families, too. That’s why I decided to put this post together. This isn’t a list of delicious recipes or trendy, fancy foods. You won’t find special sauces, avocado toast or free-from-everything food suggestions here, either. This is a survival guide for parents that need a variety of simple dinner ideas to feed a family. From here, you can decide how fancy you want to get with meal preparation. If you want to try a new recipe, search the main dish online to find a new way to prepare it. Or, you can use a seasoning pack and follow the simple instructions. You can even buy the meal frozen if that’s easier for you. The important part is that everyone gets a variety of nutrients each day, and parents don’t have to stress over what to make.

Guidelines To Weekly Meal Planning

Before I get to the dinner ideas, I want to first share a few recommendations.

I work with many busy families in my practice, and I know firsthand how hard it can be to find meal ideas that everyone in the family likes. These are simple suggestions I share with my clients when I teach weekly meal planning.  Please remember these as you consider what meals to make for the week.

Weekly Meal Planning Tip #1 – Vary Your Animal Protein (If You Eat It)

The key to good health and good meal planning is to eat a variety of foods. If you eat the same foods over and over, you run the risk of getting too much of one thing, while not getting enough of another. For example, red meat is a good source of iron and zinc, but it is also a source of saturated fat and cholesterol. To help you get the nutrients you need, without getting too much of what you don’t, you should be mindful of how much you eat, and how often.  The same is true for most foods. Salmon is another example. It’s a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but it also contains mercury – a heavy metal that you should limit in your diet. Eating fatty fish twice a week is recommended, but eating salmon every day is not.

When choosing your protein options, select a variety so that you get a wide range of nutrients. It also helps to prevent getting bored of any one particular food. For example, in a 7-day dinner rotation, choose two dinners that include chicken, two that include fish, one that includes beef, one that incorporates pork and one that incorporates turkey. Even better if the family is open to some meatless meals. Incorporating meatless meals, a few times a week, increases the variety of nutrients even more.

Weekly Meal Planning Tip #2 – Vary Your Veggies and Side Dishes

Eating a wide variety of side dishes helps to expand your vitamin and mineral intake even more. Fruits and vegetables come packed with a variety of nutrients just as they are, and they don’t require much effort to get them on your plate.  I highly suggest buying frozen vegetables, and get them in bulk, if you can. That way, if no one is in the mood for the vegetable you had planned to make, you don’t have to worry about it going bad in the refrigerator. You can just leave it in the freezer and make it another day.

I also buy frozen so that it’s easy to make different vegetables for different food preferences. For example, my son’s favorite vegetables are green beans, carrots and corn, but my daughter prefers broccoli and spinach. It’s easy to make two different veggies when you buy them frozen and in bulk. I can just put a serving of each in a microwave safe bowl, cover, cook and serve. Everyone is happy.

The same is true for starchy sides too. Rotate between baked potato, French fries, roasted red potatoes and twice-baked potatoes.  They are all potatoes, but using different preparation methods prevents boredom. All of those options freeze and re-heat well, too. So make extras so you don’t have to cook as much.

Weekly Meal Planning Tip #3 – Keep It Simple

If you love cooking, and have the time, now is actually a great time to experiment in the kitchen. But, if you’re like me – and you’re over it, don’t feel bad keeping meals simple. Feeding a family 3-4 meals a day, plus snacks, day after day gets exhausting and time consuming. It can actually take tie away from getting outside and exercising, or playing a game with the family. It’s ok to eat tacos twice a week. Trust me – I do it all the time! In fact, if you rotate between fish, beef and chicken tacos, you can have them every day.

I hope this list gives you some ideas on what to make for dinner over the next few weeks. Make extra’s, too. Many of these meals can be heated up for lunch the next day.

WEEK #1 Dinner Ideas

Day 1 Shephard’s Pie (Ground Beef, Mixed Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes)
Day 2  Turkey Tacos (Made With Ground Turkey, Shredded Cheddar, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Salsa, Sour Cream, and other toppings)
Day 3  Cream Of Chicken And Mushroom Soup With Wild Rice
Day 4  Frozen Breaded, Baked Tilapia Fillets Served With French Fries and Mini Corn on The Cob
Day 5  Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad  or a Cobb Salad
Day 6  Cheese Steak Sandwich with Green Peppers, Onions and Mozzarella Cheese Served with a  Small Garden Salad
Day 7 Baked Chicken, Roasted Potatoes & Corn

WEEK #2 Dinner Ideas

Day 1  Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Day 2  Turkey Burgers (or veggie burgers) Topped with Lettuce, Tomato, Onion and Served with A Side Of Fruit
Day 3  Breaded, Baked Chicken Parmesan Served Over Pasta with A Side Garden Salad
Day 4 {Breakfast For Dinner} – Eggs, Hash Browns or Home Fries, Toast and Fruit Cup
Day 5  Roast, Potatoes and Carrots (Made Easier In A Slow Cooker)
Day 6  Fish Tacos (Made With Baked Tilapia or Cod, Slaw or Basic Lettuce and Other Toppings)
Day 7  Homemade Individual Personal Pizza’s Topped Vegetables and Served With A Side Salad

 As an FYI, all of the dinner ideas that I share in this post incorporate animal proteins. That’s because these are dinners I make for my own family, and we eat animal protein. You can easily substitute plant-based proteins for the options.

 Do you have another simple dinner idea that can be added to the list? Share it in the comments below.

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