I have three kids under the age of 5 at home, so speed in the kitchen isn’t just nice, it’s a necessity. If your house goes a little crazy around 5 pm the way mine does, these fast, easy and kid-friendly recipes are just for you. A combination of Food Network’s best dishes and our own family favorites, these are all recipes you need to feed a crew fast, and stay sane while doing it.
1. Stovetop Lasagna: Did you know it’s possible to make lasagna from scratch in 30 minutes — sauce and all? This speedy version of a classic family favorite has fast (and delicious) dinner written all over it.
2. Pepperoni and Cheese Scrambled Eggs: What’s faster than breakfast for dinner? Robert Irvine revamps a universally beloved dish in minutes for Food Network Magazine (pictured above).
3. Bacon and Broccoli Rice Bowls: Sometimes the best dinner is the one that surprises the knee-high critics. With a fried egg perched atop otherwise predictable rice and broccoli, you’re sure to get their attention. And that’s really half the battle, isn’t it?
4. Ham, Cheese and Apple Melts: A quesadilla is always welcome on any child’s plate, but this one has something unexpected. Tangy slivers of Granny Smith apples add just the right zing to an otherwise ho-hum meal.
5. Beef and Black Bean Sliders: What’s faster (and more festive) than burgers? Mini burgers. Melissa d’Arabian’s take on sliders even bumps up the level of nutrition with an added punch of protein by way of beans.
6. Whole-Wheat Penne with Sugar Snap Peas and Pork: Believe it or not, little kids love fresh ginger. Most would think you’d need to scale back and skimp on the flavor in order to sell this dish to children, but they’d be wrong. Full of fresh and zesty notes — not to mention emerald-green sugar snap peas — this is a one-pot meal the whole family can easily enjoy.
7. Salmon Cakes: If your kids aren’t big fish eaters, this is the fish dish for them. More like a burger patty than a fillet, the crusty edges provide a satisfying crunch. Salmon is the best starter fish out there.
8. Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Noodles: The beauty of this recipe is how versatile it is. Add any variety of veggies you have (or those that your kids enjoy), throw in chicken, beef or pork, and the whole dish comes together in 20 minutes.
9. Skillet Pizza with Pepperoni, Salami, Peppers and Cheese: Speaking of pizza (and we were), this version of pizza is so fast and easy you don’t even need to turn the oven on. Just gather a skillet, the dough and your toppings, and you’ll have a pie sizzling on the double.
10. Cheese Ravioli with Spinach and Bacon: Using fresh ravioli, frozen spinach and a pack of bacon, this is the easiest dinner I make for my group of toddlers and preschoolers. They cheer when they see it coming.
Foodlets.com was founded by Charity Curley Mathews, who is a mother of three (with another on the way) living outside Chapel Hill, N.C. From a mini farm in the making, she blogs about healthy family meals and strategies for helping kids develop a love of good food for life. She’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, upwave by Turner, BabyZone by Disney and eHow.com.