21 Family-Friendly Meals, Back-to-School Treats

Welcome to the Weekly Meal Planner! Whether you work all day and are out of steam when the dinner hour hits, or are fresh out of ideas and in a cooking rut, we are here to make your life easier. 

This week we are featuring some easy and family-friendly weeknight meals like quick pastas, healthy lettuce tacos and a fabulous fish dinner. Check out our Italian classic dinner recipes plus a Saturday night seafood dish that’s perfect for entertaining.

In honor of back to school – and back to packed lunches – we’ve included three super simple cookie recipes that are great sweet treats to be enjoyed with some healthy snacks. Happy September!

Don’t know what to cook? Need help with a recipe? Feel free to ask us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Meatless Monday

Lunch: Make less-than-perfect end-of-summer tomatoes into something perfect in this delicious Minestrone with Tomato and Fennel.

Dinner: Everything is better with an egg on top! Quick Polenta with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Poached Eggs is a satisfying anytime meal. Cook’s note: Swap in veggie stock for the chicken stock if you’d like. 

Snack: Flour tortillas rolled with your favorite fresh fruit and jam – now that’s a fun after-school snack! Kids will love customizing Fresh Fruit Roll Ups.


Lunch: Make a batch of Catalan Chicken Stew over the weekend and enjoy all week long. Pro tip: As always, a store-bought rotisserie chicken is just fine in this recipe if you’re in a pinch.

Dinner: It’s Taco Tuesday! Lettuce Tacos with Sesame-Cumin Beef are healthy and affordable.

Snack: Chopped turkey, red bell pepper and cheddar cheese are baked right in Airplane Snacks: Southwest Corn Muffins for a healthy, well-rounded snack.


Lunch: Deli roast beef makes these Greek Subs a snap to put together.

Dinner: Spinach Tagliatelle with Ham-Mushroom Sauce is a comforting all-in-one meal that the kids will love. Pro tip: Any type of pasta would be delicious in this dish. 

Dessert: Kahula Chocolate Chunk Cookies are so easy even the most novice bakers can make them. The secret is the chocolate chip cookie mix from your supermarket’s baking aisle!


Lunch: Make your own deli-style sammie at a fraction of the cost – Chicken Bagel Sandwiches with Bacon-Walnut Cream Cheese are a delicious departure from your same-old same-old sandwich.

Dinner: Tilapia Piccata is a different take on an Italian classic. Serve with steamed rice and a simple salad and dinner is done.

Snack: Once you make your own hummus you’ll never buy it at the store again. Lemon-Garlic Chickpea Dip with Veggies and Chips also makes a fantastic sandwich spread.


Lunch: Add some chopped chicken or turkey if you’d like to Spicy Chopped Salad for a zesty complete lunch.

Dinner: Celebrate the end of the work week with yummy Greek Burgers with Feta Sauce. It’s delicious with ground beef, lamb or chicken! Pro tip: The feta sauce is a delicious dip for crackers or raw veggies as well. 

Dessert: Your childhood (or adult!) favorite sammie in a cookie: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie is genius!

Entertaining Saturday

Brunch: Get all of your food groups on one delicious plate when you serve Ham and Spinach Hash with Fried Eggs – another great anytime meal.

Dinner: Treat your guests to a restaurant-worthy meal. Fat Spaghetti with Frutti di Mare is chock-full of fresh seafood tossed with a flavorful sauce.

Appetizer: Keep with the Italian theme of the night and tide your guests over until dinner with Chunky Puttanesca Crostini.

Family Sunday

Brunch: Ginger Pancakes are flap jacks with a sweetly spicy twist. Serve with warmed real maple syrup for an old fashioned favorite meal.

Dinner: Prepare an Italian classic for the family tonight when you serve Veal Saltimbocca with Marsala Mushrooms and Asparagus.

Dessert: Chocolate brings a family together, and Brownie Cookies will definitely do the trick!

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Rachael Ray