11 Recipes All Parents Should Have in Their Repertoire


There are recipes that every family loves every time, the ones that always get passed on to friends. These are mine — the easiest, freshest, most family-friendly recipes that are consistently successful. And I don’t just mean they come out well — all the kids like them every time!

Cheeseburger Hand Pies with Puff Pastry

Whenever a friend asks for a new recipe to break her out of a rut, this is the one I pass along first. It’s delicious on its own merit, but there’s a special bonus for picky eaters. They’re just the same ingredients that you get on a regular ol’ cheeseburger, so taking a chance on trying a new food isn’t quite so scary — and the results are not just tasty but confidence-building too.


Simple Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

Use this classic recipe as a starting point to create new dishes. As the chefs in Food Network Kitchen note, “This basic pasta dish can be transformed by adding extras like cooked bacon, shrimp or even a few handfuls of baby spinach to the sauce.”

Turkey Meatloaf

Ina Garten’s moist meatloaf gets a boost of flavor from the topping, made with tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.

Maple-Glazed Roasted Carrots

If you have two minutes, you can prep this melt-in-your-mouth side dish that our kids (and their friends) gobble up every time.

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Mini Muffins

My kids were basically raised on these. Tons of veggies (pumpkin), a little fruit (applesauce), a boost of fiber (wheat germ) and a pop of flavor (cinnamon plus a few spice friends) made them a staple from the first batch I whipped up. There’s less sugar here than what you’ll find in most muffin recipes, and they freeze like a dream.

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

How could I not mention this Italian classic from Giada De Laurentiis, which has a 5-star rating and more than 1,300 fan reviews? It takes only a handful of ingredients to create a dinner your family will ask for again, and again, and …

The Pioneer Woman’s Best Tomato Soup Ever

Who knew a couple of cans of tomatoes could turn into something as rich and satisfying as this? Paired with a big loaf of warm, crusty bread, this easy dinner makes for a happy crowd.

Lemony Chicken Strips

Whether you’re in a chicken-nugget rut or you just like the idea of dinner on the table in minutes, this tangy chicken is a game changer. I even make extras to send to school the next day.

Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken

I used to be intimidated by roasting a whole bird. Then I saw Ina do it and had to try it for myself — and, boy, is my whole family glad I did! It’s so juicy, so tender, such a hit every time. But there are more things to love about this recipe: It cooks for quite a while, but once you get it in the oven, there’s nothing left to do (except work on not drooling over the amazing aroma in your house). And there’s a timesaving feature as well: I always throw in a few extra veggies and call it a one-pot dinner.

Fried Rice

Faced with a refrigerator full of disparate leftovers? How about a few random veggies? Put them to work in this top-rated fried rice.

Honey-Mustard Chicken

One simple glaze transforms regular chicken breasts (or thighs) into what my kids refer to as “The Chicken.” As in “Can we please have The Chicken again tonight?”

Charity Curley Mathews is the founder of Foodlets.com, a site about cooking only one dinner, teaching kids the fun of trying new foods and enjoying the process together. Most of the time.