(This Easy Family Meals post was last updated on January 5, 2021)
I feel like it’s important to preface this post with the following: I get that spending extra time cooking and baking right now may not be possible for your quarantine situation. You might be working full-time from home while trying to watch your kids; you might be an essential worker on the front lines of a hospital or grocery store; or you might just be too overwhelmed, anxious or depressed to even think about trying out a new recipe or two.
But if, like me, cooking/baking has become your perfect daily distraction to cope with the insanity of your new normal, welcome to the Quarantine Cooking Club. I’m the self-appointed CEO. And I’m here to tell you that the easy family meals, treats and snacks I’m sharing below come from a place of inexperience.
IMPORTANT NOTE: if you’ve visited this post before, please be sure to refresh the page before continuing to ensure you have the latest version. New content is being added from week to week and I don’t want to you miss it!
Though I’ve always baked, I’m not a natural chef and have always looked for shortcuts. I’m no stranger to boxed cake mix, pre-made pie shells or jarred sauces. Nay, I’m usually too busy to do much from scratch. Yet, here I am taking a (very privileged) pause from my regular work to focus on my kids’ homeschooling and trying to find opportunities each day to attempt new things in the kitchen.
That’s led to a lot of trial and error during the past few weeks, so I wanted to share what’s worked well and has been easy to make in hopes that it takes out some of your guesswork as you Google easy family meal ideas to get you through this very strange time.
I’m also going to share a whack of other recipes that I asked my blogger friends to submit — there are some gems in here that I’ve already tried (like Urban Mommies’ tea biscuits) and lots of recipes that use pantry staples. Perfect for a pandemic, am I right?!
There are some vegan and gluten-free recipes listed here, but they’re in the minority for sure. Sorry about that — we aren’t vegan or gluten-free folks.
Here are our tried & true easy family meals:
Like my free homeschooling resources post, check back here from time to time as I update recipes once we’ve tried them a few times and determined that they really are easy. These are a mix of recipes I have on my site and those that we use frequently from other sites — everything is linked to make it easy for you to get right to them and I’ll forego any introductions, descriptions or flowery B.S. so you can just click and go.
Pro Tip: bookmark this post for easy reference.
Easy family meals: breakfast
- 2-ingredient bagels (here’s how to make self-rising flour if you only have all-purpose flour in your pantry)
- Easy blender crêpes
- These sourdough English muffins use up old discard beautifully
- Christmas Wifesaver recipe (no need to save this one for the holidays)
- 2-ingredient pancakes: mash up and banana and mix it with an egg. Pour into 3-inch circles and fry in a buttered pan
- Overnight oats — there are literally thousands of recipes online for you to choose from, but here’s one with six different recipes
Easy family meals: lunch & dinner
- Bolognese and bechamel lasagna recipe with step-by-step instructions for how to layer a lasagna
- Chocolate protein shake (using any chocolate protein powder you have)
- Lamb burgers with homemade hamburger buns
- So easy, so yummy — braised chicken with honey-lemon leeks
- Canned salmon or tuna melts: make a salmon or tuna salad using mayo, diced onions and celery, and salt and pepper. Layer onto a piece of rye bread, add grated cheese on top and put it under the broiler or in a toaster oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Works with leftover salmon or tuna filets as well!
- Here’s a traditional shepherd’s pie along with my not-so-traditional take on it
- Cauliflower cheddar soup
- Cauliflower mac ‘n cheese
- This beef stew is even better a day or two later as leftovers
- French Canadian tortière & I used this recipe for easy homemade pie crust dough because I ran out of Tenderflake shells (I made this with half minced turkey and half minced lamb and it was divine, though I think that makes it more of a Cottage Pie)
- These pierogies are time-consuming but easy and taste incredible sauteed with onions and bacon (serve with sour cream, too!)
- Cajun-blackened shrimp
- Chicken pot pie (I made this before learning how to make my own pie shells from scratch and used two Tenderflake crusts — 1.5 spread out and cut to fit the bottom of this 9×12 pan and the remainder cut to make strips on top)
- Pita/naan mini pizzas
- Making your own pasta sauce? Try roasting bell peppers to add in; we did this for the first time recently and it really amped up the flavour. We used these to create our own version of the classic primavera sauce
- Honey-roasted duck
Easy family meals: bread & carb-y things
- After trying lots of crusty bread recipes, I can tell you that this one is the easiest and fastest
- Although I also have a post that’s specifically about sourdough bread below, here’s part 1 of my sourdough discard recipes series — a dupe for those very popular Morning Rounds
- Speaking of sourdough, if you want to make your own sourdough starter from scratch, I created a slow and very detailed step-by-step video to help
- This garlic loaf is INCREDIBLE — we added the rosemary and also created a rosemary and sea salt-infused butter to go with it
- No-yeast 2-ingredient pretzels — we have also simply stopped at the dough-rope stage in this recipe and chopped those into bite-sized pieces. The rest of the recipe stays the same, including cooking time. Pair these pretzel bites with beer-cheese dip for an OMG indulgence
- Chef Tom’s homemade bread (this makes two LARGE loafs, so I suggest freezing one as soon as it cools unless you think you can get to both before the second one starts to go stale)
- These garlic naan are ridiculously good; pair them with this super-easy butter chicken
- Here’s my easy, overnight sourdough Dutch oven bread recipe & an even easier stand-mixer sourdough recipe
- Make your own tortillas (it’s a bit time-consuming to roll the dough and hurriedly get it into your pan, but I think you’ll find it well worth the effort. I personally make 14 instead of the 16 “rounds” the recipe suggests to make them slightly bigger and may even try making 12 next time)
- This Yorkshire pudding recipe is easy to follow and tastes like my Granny’s did (my ENGLISH Granny!)
- But you can also make your own pizza dough from scratch pretty easily, provided you can find yeast and flour during lockdown! This was a really easy recipe and yielded enough dough for two large pizzas
- Hot dog buns are so much tastier when they’re homemade
And, if you’ve joined the Adventures in Sourdough brigade, I also have a bunch of sourdough discard recipes listed in my how to feed sourdough starter guide. There’s more than just bread!
Easy family meals: salads
- I made this Mexican street corn salad for Cinco de Mayo (shown below as part of an Instagram spread) and it earned rave reviews
- I also made pico de gallo — which is sort of like a salad that you eat with a tortilla chip
View this post on Instagram
Cinco de Mayo on a Taco Tuesday?! YES, PLEASE. The kids and I made tissue-paper fiesta flowers for one of our at-home art classes, pulled out our Mexican Falsa blanket and cooked up a storm of colour and flavour. Today, we celebrate one of our favourite countries! • I’ve been working on perfecting homemade tortillas (third time’s a charm), and without question the most tedious part is rolling them out by hand. But, boy, is the payoff worth it. I use a great recipe from @thecafesucrefarine — called the Best Ever Flour Tortillas — which is linked in the post you’ll find in my bio. Those double-down and make not only yummy fajitas but also killer quesadillas. We also made an incredible Mexican street corn salad from @jocooks that’s beyond delicious. And two versions of pico de gallo (nestled between a simple layered nacho dip here) inspired by @thepioneerwoman’s recipe: one for the kids with a hot house tomato, no spice; and one for us using a yellow heirloom tomato and plenty of diced jalapaños. • The sweet pièce de résistance? Dulce de leche! Also known as the easiest dessert of all time. In Mexico, you may hear it called “cajeta” because it actually originated in Argentina, but it’s a lovely Cinco de Mayo treat. Here’s how to make it: 1️⃣ Grab a can of condensed milk. Remove wrapper. 2️⃣ Place it in the centre of a Dutch oven and cover with water (and at least an inch above it). 3️⃣ Bring it to a boil, then put the lid on and simmer on low heat for 2.5 hours. 4️⃣ Remove the can *carefully* (tongs work well) and set on a plate to cool. 5️⃣ Once you can comfortably handle the can, open and pour your caramel-y goodness into a small mason jar or glass bowl. Serve with fruit and save this post so you always have the recipe! • ? taken with the #iPhone11 • • • #NotSponsored #cincodemayo #tacotuesday #mexicanfood #mexicanrecipes #whatsfordinner #tortillarecipe #fajitas #quesadilla #Mexicancorn #cornsalad #picodegallo #nachodip #fiestaflowers #dulcedeleche #easyrecipes #quickrecipes #recipes #falsablanket #5demayo #tacotime #quarantinefood #quarantinecooking #easydinnerideas #foodmakesmehappy #foodiesofinstagram #foodlove #canadianblogger
Easy family meals: drinks, dips, sauces & snacks
- This crunchy granola bar recipe is sooooooo easy!
- Have you seen that Dalgona coffee trend making its way around social media? Well, I tried it (several times using several methods to mix) and it was WAY too sweet. So I modified it and made it easy to whip up if all you have is a Tupperware container
- Better than any store-bought iced tea, southern-style sweet tea is your summery friend
- This roasted beet muhammara is ridiculous in the best sense of the word
- Microwave hollandaise sauce (and OMG, I will never try to make it the traditional way again)
- Healthy microwave popcorn
- Roasted chickpeas
- Easy tzatziki recipe
Easy family meals: dessert recipes
- I love lemon so much that I created a dessert with three layers of lemon flavour — the two-tier lemon buttermilk cake with lemon curd AND lemon whipped cream!
- The best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had in my life use sourdough starter
- These peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies have so much goodness in them that I sometimes let the kids eat them for breakfast (everything in moderation, right?)
Missing brown sugar in your pantry? DIY it! Here’s how to make brown sugar at home.
- Vitamix vanilla ice cream (I made this with two fresh vanilla beans instead of the extract, but that’s only because I had some that needed to be used up — you won’t get these specks of vanilla beans if you follow the original recipe)
- 1-ingredient banana ice cream
- There’s a reason this recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies has 15k positive reviews! They’re SO GOOD
Need softened butter for a recipe but your microwave melts it too much or softens unevenly? This butter trick works every time.
- Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies
- Gluten-free chocolate black bean zucchini muffins
- These lime bars are sweet and tart (notes: I added some lemon and lime rinds to the food processor and blended them with the base/cookie layer rather than adding zest to the topping mixture; I also used a little less sugar than called for in both parts of this recipe and would likely use even less next time; I had to use about 6-7 rock-hard limes and a large lemon to get the 2/3 cup of juice this recipe calls for)
- This buttermilk lemon bread is TO DIE FOR
- I adapted this fudgy black bean brownie recipe on TikTok to suit our taste and it was a huge hit (we paired it with the 1-ingredient banana ice cream)
- No-bake chocolate almond butter cookies
- Chocolate chip zucchini banana loaf
- My mom’s famous banana bread (I’m too lazy right now to make this into its own blog post; forgive the presentation):
Now onto other bloggers’ recipes!
Full disclosure: I haven’t personally tried a lot of these yet…and therefore have no idea if they’re easy family meals. But here’s what I do know: each one of them come from a content creator who would love to share a piece of themselves with you through recipes made or curated with love…
- Easy challah bread recipe from Mayahood Blog
- Indian kulkuls from Parenting To Go
- Tea biscuits from Urban Mommies (I tweaked these to use ingredients that were about to go off in our fridge, using half butter/half shortening and a cup of buttermilk instead of regular milk — so good!)
- Gluten-free lemon waffles from Hej Doll (that can be made with full, glutenous flour if you prefer)
- Simply mac ‘n cheese from Simply Real Moms
- 20 quick & easy 30-minute dinner ideas curated by Moments on the Map
- Mini Egg shortbread cookies from I Don’t Blog
- Homemade pretzel bites from Honest & Truly
- White bean soup recipe from Simply Suppa
- Baked French toast from Me, Myself & Kids
- Easy peasy no-meat pasta sauce from House of Kerrs
- Caribbean rice and beans from Bacon is Magic
- Marinated chicken wings from Maple Mouse Mama
- Sheet-pan Moroccan chicken from Torontonicity
- Ham and tomato egg breakfast muffin from Little Miss Kate
- Vegan pho recipe from Justin + Lauren
- How to ferment vegetables from Dobbernation Loves
- Some global holiday recipes curated by Journeywoman
- 20 famous Indian food recipes curated by Breathe Dream Go
- Air fryer bacon cheese tots from Travelling Foodie
- Banana cake with cream cheese frosting from A Little Bit of Momsense
- Three-ingredient recipes from The Curious Creature
- Beef bulgogi from Life on Manitoulin
- Blueberry bars from Renee M. LeBlanc
Remember that if you’re not teaching these recipes to your kids — either because they’re still too little or because you need me-time to stay sane during self-isolation — you can access my homeschooling tools list to occupy them.
DISCLAIMER: there isn’t one.