Quick Meals

For most people with children, dinner during the week is simple. And the only reason it comes together at all is thanks to a small but mighty list of dinner-saving food staples that families with children should always have on hand.

CANNED BEAN

When you have time, cooking beans from their dried state is optimal. However, for most of the time, we rely on canned. Beans can be eaten on their own, sometimes in tacos, sometimes in quesadillas. Leftovers are perfect for kid lunches and second-day salads for the grown-ups.

SUSHI OR JASMINE RICE

There are few things more satisfying than having a pot of freshly cooked rice ready to dig into come dinnertime. Plus, kids love rice—they’d eat happily make a huge bowl of it their dinner. Have leftovers? Make chicken fried rice the next day.

GROUND BEEF

Ground beef in almost any form is always a winner: meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, and especially sliders Make in big batches and freeze to eat throughout the week.

CANNED WHOLE SAN MARZANO TOMATOES

Keep a few cans of whole tomatoes in the pantry. Most of the canned tomatoes end up in tomato sauce for spaghetti and meatballs, but you can also add them to soups, braised chicken, and other quick dishes.

GRAPE TOMATOES

It’s perfectly acceptable to serve raw vegetables as a side dish, even if they’re not in salad form. Especially when they’re in season, a pint of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes is every bit as good as steamed green beans or roasted eggplant. And if you want to get fancy throw them into a skillet with seared lamb chops or crispy chicken cutlets.

BLOCK OF CHEESE

One of our real-talk rules about feeding kids is to appreciate the power of cheese. Put a small bowl of shredded cheddar next to each child’s plate and let them sprinkle it on whatever they want. Or try this favorite meal: snacky dinner. Set out a large platter of cubed cheeses, cured meats, whole-grain crackers, dried fruit, and any crunchy veggies you have on hand. Boom: dinner.