Easy Dinner Recipes for Bigger Families
Making dinner for six? Here are a few great ways to please your crowd.
Meal planning, shopping and cooking can be a daunting practice, even just for two, but scale it up to six, and the kitchen starts to look more like a command center. Some of the most-important factors are figuring out the proper amounts of each ingredient you’ll need, navigating everyone’s dietary preferences and restrictions, trying to not break the bank every time you go to the store, preparing healthy meals that you’ll feel good about serving and offering something that everyone will actually enjoy eating. Each of these factors plays a role in creating the perfect meals for your family and can really take a toll on those cooking for larger families. But do not be discouraged, cooking commander!
After years of meal prepping and planning, we’ve got a few favorite go-to easy recipes that make feeding the family a breeze. When in doubt, turn to dump dinners, casseroles or soups as an all-too-easy answer for crowd-pleasing meals. But here are a few more specific favorites.
First, these recipes maximize grocery shopping by utilizing a few ingredients in a lot of ways.
Second, they will keep for a bit, so you can do your shopping in one fell swoop. This means that you can also prep and cook a variety of dishes earlier in the week or on Sunday, then reheat as the days progress for easy homecooked meals every day of the week. And, if you’re shopping, prepping and cooking in the beginning of the week, we also suggest planning the whole week’s menu right off the bat, then organizing your fridge by ingredients for each dish, to just grab and go when the day arrives. It will save your needing to find time to cook another round of meals for the family halfway through the week when you can’t bear to think about putting another thing on your plate (no pun intended).
If you’re looking for recipes to include on your menus, or simply just for recipe inspiration, check out these easy dinner recipes perfect for families of six. They come together quickly, load lots of nutrients into every serving and will leave everyone with full stomachs and smiling faces.
For a throw-in-the-oven, enjoy-in-35-minutes kind of dinner, turn to this Chicken Tortilla Dump Dinner (pictured above). This recipe encapsulates everything you could want in taco night without all of the work. Preparing each element of a typical taco bar can be time-consuming and overwhelming, but this recipe calls for everything to be baked together, reducing prep and cook time for you! What’s even better is that it calls for some quality premade ingredients like rotisserie chicken and shredded Monterey Jack cheese, making this an easy go-to for the nights you have to feed a crowd.
Ree is a busy mom with a full house, so it’s no wonder that her recipes are designed to please a crowd. This one-pot wonder works like a quick-make chili dish. Add the turkey to a large nonstick skillet, seasoning it with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Once it browns, add the black beans, salsa and chile in adobo. As the dish continues to cook, the turkey will absorb the flavors of these ingredients, developing a deep smoky, peppery flavor. When you’re ready to serve, toast corn tortillas on an open flame and begin assembling your tacos with fresh cilantro, lime, avocado, radishes, diced tomato and any other topping you like.
Soup is one of the best and easiest ways to feed a family. There’s minor prep, it cooks with minimal supervision and typically has a high yield, feeding everyone with leftovers to spare. Ree’s Chicken Noodle Soup is a great example of a brothy beauty that’s always a home run. Pair it with a crusty loaf of Italian bread and garnish with plenty of fresh parsley. Lots leftover? Throw it in the freezer (It will last for weeks!) and reheat whenever your troop’s looking for some soup.
Simple is the name of the game with Tyler’s Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken with Baby Potatoes. It only takes a few minutes to prep the chicken for its roast — rinse the bird and stuff the cavity with plenty of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. Set in a roasting pan, surround with the potatoes and roast for about an hour and a half (or until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit). While it cooks, prep a big side salad or sauté garlicky vegetables to complement the main event.
Sandwiches may seem too humble to star on the dinner table, but Trisha’s creative Cubanos are no ordinary sandwich! Typically made with slow-cooked pork and homemade mojo, a traditional Cubano recipe has been swapped here for a shortcut version with ham and a quick mojo, perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. Make an assembly line and have your whole family involved in the process of creating their dinner, including making quick pickles and toasting soft rolls. Pro tip: Save your leftover pickles in a jar in the fridge. They’ll last weeks and will be the bright, crisp snack you crave every once in a while.
Pasta dishes are always a great dinner for a bigger family because a pound of pasta goes a long way. Whether you’re mixing in lots of add-ins like roasted cherry tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella or if you’re simply tossing the pasta with this vibrant lemon-butter sauce, pasta is a crowd pleaser. Take a page out of Ina’s playbook and make a Lemon Capellini one night this week. It comes together quickly, packing a bright punch from the fruity, acidic notes of the lemon, while also adding levels of richness through a generous amount of butter. It’s a five-star favorite on its own, but can also withstand the addition of sautéed broccoli, or a side of garlicky shrimp.
Sometimes on a crazy Wednesday night all you need is a build-your-own taco bar for the family. It’s low-lift on your end and lets everyone customize their dinner. Check out this recipe for inspiration, which doubles the filling fun with both tilapia and shrimp. Set out bowls of scallions, radishes, salsa, avocado slices (or guacamole if you’re feeling fancy), cilantro and more for everyone to choose from. And be sure not to forget the corn tortillas!
Grilling shrimp is one of the best ways to feed a crowd, and Alex’s recipe is unbeatable. While it may take time to peel and devein the shrimp (You can often get this done by your local fish monger — don't be afraid to ask!), once they’re on the grill they cook in a few short minutes. Toss them with this homemade walnut pesto and pair with some freshly grilled corn, a salad and perhaps a nice loaf of bread and you’ve got yourself a feast fit for the whole family.
Getting kids to eat vegetables can be hard, no matter their age, so the best way to get a little veg into their diets is via concealment. Case in point: These Eat-Your-Veggies Italian Meatballs. Packed full of collard greens and black beans, you’d never know how nutritious and veg-forward these meatballs actually are. And, if you can’t tell, that means there’s no way your kids will be able to either! Throw the meatballs in a pot of sauce and toss with some pasta, or layer them on top of a bed of spaghetti squash for those brave enough to take on even more veggie action!
Most everyone loves a good slice of pizza and most everyone loves a good pot pie. But put them together? Forget about it. Giada’s Pizza Pot Pies combine two comfort classics, pleasing pretty much every eater. This recipe is simple, yet delicious and cooks up in about an hour. To streamline the process even more, you can swap out homemade sauce for jarred and you can purchase a rotisserie chicken instead of roasting your own. There are endless possibilities for ways to work with this recipe, so play around and find what you and the fam like the best.