Easy meals to make at home include make-ahead breakfasts, simple lunches, snacks and family dinners that are healthy, delicious and use on-hand ingredients.
Planning meals and our monthly menus is one of my guilty pleasures.
It must be the type A personality shining through, but I actually really enjoy sitting down and mapping out our dinners, snacks and school lunches for the kids.
Right about now, I'm thankful for that.
With the coronavirus keeping us all at home, I know several friends who are stressing about all the food and cooking aspect of this new life.
Honestly, I am too.
I can't assume I'll be able to get all the exact foods and supplies I need any time I go to the store to stock up for as long as possible, so I've been trying to plan out some easy meals to make at home more generally and also allow plenty of flexibility.
You can also check out my household and food supply stock-up lists. Though maybe we're now past that point?
Anyway, with everyone working from home and kids out of school, we'll certainly be needing to keep things pretty basic in the kitchen. Enter:
Easy meals to make at home
I've gathered some ideas for easy make-ahead breakfasts, simple on-hand lunches as well as some easy family dinners that have just a few ingredients and/or rely on pantry basics. Plus, some bonus easy healthy snacks to make and have on hand.
I hope these ideas, recipes and lists are helpful for you too as we navigate this new world.
Also, please keep in mind that I am a substitute queen and in many of my recipes, I already mention substitutions and swaps you can make to the recipes. These are usually in the bolded "Notes" section of the written post; sometimes that information is also listed in the notes section of the recipe card at the bottom of the post. That will be useful in the coming weeks .
OK, let's dive in.
Easy make-ahead breakfasts
When able, I'm going to prep a few of these a week so we have some breakfast options ready to go in the morning. Helps start the day off strong. 👊
Many of these are adaptable, so you can use the ingredients you have available or tailor them to suit your family's tastes.
You can also check out my easy, healthy grab-and-go breakfast ideas for more inspiration.
- Instant Pot steel cut oatmeal - serve as is or add your favorite oatmeal toppings. (The post has lots of ideas.)
- Slow cooker oatmeal - Go for maple cinnamon or berries and cream flavors.
- Baked oatmeal - I've got lots but banana bread baked oatmeal and blueberry baked oatmeal are favorites. Carrot cake baked oatmeal is great for spring and may come in handy, since carrots are a great veggie to keep on hand.
- Cheesy baked eggs (or Mexican baked eggs) - you can also add some extra veggies if you have them
- Egg muffins are also really easy to prep and you can add any veggie or meat mix-ins you want (ham, bacon, turkey, etc.)
- Smoothies - A great way to use frozen fruit mixes
- Overnight oatmeal jars - Use this base recipe and add your favorite mix-ins for different flavor options
- Chicken sausage - I am hoping to keep some of these on hand in the fridge and freezer for a breakfast protein
- Muffins and mini muffins - I've got tons of healthy muffin recipes and these double as a good option for snack or lunch
- Whole wheat pancakes and waffles - These freeze great so make a double batch and have extras to store for later 👍
- Breakfast burritos - make a big batch at once and keep them on hand in the freezer
Simple on-hand lunches
We've packed my kids' lunches for years, but there's something about the thought of them at home and needing lunch every day for the next couple of months, in the middle of my work day, that stresses me out.
So I've got a running list of easy meals to make at home for lunches that I can either:
- Prep ahead of time and just pull out to serve,
- Put together quickly (5 minutes or less), or
- Have them fix themselves or with just a little bit of help
My kids are 6 and 8, so they are eager to help in the kitchen, but still need some oversight and assistance. Which is why we are keeping things really easy with these ideas.
And flexible. Again, who knows what foods we'll all be able to keep on hand.
- Sandwiches - turkey, peanut butter, etc. I've got a list of 20+ sandwich ideas and spreads if you need some creative inspiration in this category - or just ideas to keep things from being boring
- Healthy lunch wraps - more ideas here and great for using tortillas, which are easy to keep in the fridge and freezer for longer periods of time
- Hummus and dippers (pretzels, carrots, cucumber, etc.)
- Cheese and snack plates
- Egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad
- Muffins (see above from breakfast) - great served with yogurt and a fruit, or with a smoothie
- Veggie burgers - homemade or frozen
- Hot dogs or chicken sausages
- Quick chicken tacos - just warm up some rotisserie or leftover chicken in a pan with some taco seasoning and any extras - beans, salsa, etc. Then stuff into shells and serve in minutes!
- Grilled cheese and soup - a little more labor intensive but one of my kids favorites
- Quesadillas - cheese, bean, spinach, chicken, any kind! Another great use of tortillas and goes pretty quickly if you have shredded cheese on hand
- English muffin pizzas or English muffin ham and cheese melts
- Pasta bowls or rice/grain bowls - a great way to use leftovers
Healthy snack ideas
My kids, like yours I'm sure, are snack fanatics. We don't go very long between meals without inquiring about a snack.
And knowing how snack-crazy they get when they are home all summer long, I'm guessing we're in for it during this quarantine time period too.
So snacks to the rescue!
I've previously shared some easy healthy snack ideas for kids, and those are great for toddlers, too.
Granted, I plan to pick up plenty of store-bought snacks as I can, and I definitely will relax my normally more stringent rules on making everything myself. There's a limit and we have reached it.
But these are some of our very favorites and you know me, they are gonna be pretty easy to put together. Plus, it helps me burn some of this anxious energy I'm feeling to get in the kitchen and fix up some yummy treats.
- Best homemade granola bars
- 5-ingredient granola - my son's favorite; great for breakfast or snacking
- Raw brownie bites - a healthy chocolate fix
- No-bake energy balls (like peanut butter energy balls or chocolate chip ones)
- Healthy chocolate chip muffins (or any muffins you have that double as breakfast or snack)
- Peanut butter chocolate chip snack bars
- Trail mix and mixed nuts
- Peanut butter and banana or apple
- Smoothies or fruity popsicles
- Cheese and crackers or small cheese/snack plate
- Hummus and pretzels or carrots
- Chips and salsa or bean dip (or microwave nachos for a treat)
- Graham crackers with peanut butter
- S'mores snack (break up graham crackers in a bowl, add mini marshmallows and chocolate chips)
- Healthy cookies or baked breads
- Microwave popcorn (use a glass bowl or paper bag to make it)
Easy family dinners
Dinner time after another long day of everyone stuck at home sounds a bit daunting. But it can be easy, it can be simple and it can be quick. Oh, and healthy too.
That's been my motto all along, but it's definitely true right now when we all need more and more easy meals to make at home, maybe more than we are used to doing.
You can check out my 30 easy healthy family dinner ideas for a whole month of basic dinner starter ideas (such as tacos, chili, stuffed chicken, sheet pan dinner, fried rice, soup and sandwiches, etc.) It's great for looking through if you're in a dinner rut.
Healthy, quick kid-friendly meals can suddenly be plenty good enough for the whole family and pool night dinners are easy, healthy ideas to make ahead or quickly throw together. They'd be great for a backyard picnic, too, if you're feeling a little claustrophobic. 👍
Also, definitely browse these chicken recipes with few ingredients, which all have 5 or fewer ingredients. So handy!
Or if you've stocked up on ground turkey, here are 12 easy, healthy ground turkey recipes.
Here's a few dinnertime favorites that keep things super simple, both with the ingredients and with the preparation.
- One pot wonder with rotisserie chicken - tons of variations you can make here
- Cheesy fiesta grilled chicken - just taco seasoning and cheese
- Healthy one-pot lasagna - comfort food (slightly lightened up)
- Slow cooker honey garlic chicken - easy to prep and amazing flavor
- Southwest baked salmon - 15 minutes and on-hand spices
- Baked turkey meatballs - these freeze beautifully!
- Easy chicken stir fry - uses frozen stir fry veggies
- Crock pot Mexican shredded chicken - only 3 ingredients
- Crunchy baked pork chops and spice-rubbed pork chops - simple pantry ingredients
- Honey butter chicken - uses pantry basics
- Easy BBQ salmon - just 2 ingredients
- Slow cooker balsamic chicken - on-hand pantry ingredients
- Baked chicken spaghetti - extras freeze great
- White turkey chili - another freezer-friendly one
- Balsamic pork tenderloin - just 3 ingredients
- Wild rice sausage kale bowl - also 3 ingredients
- Easy Mexican shrimp skillet - serve over rice or use for tacos
I'll stop there but hope that gives you some good ideas for easy meals to make at home during this crazy time.
Feel free to poke around on my site or get in touch if you need help making a dinner from what you've got at home. I love figuring that stuff out! (And am happy to point you to recipes that aren't mine too. I've got lots of very talented food blogger friends. 😊)
Finally, if you've got any great recipes or tips or strategies to share, please leave a comment below! We're all in this together and it's so important to help each other out.