It’s supper time- mom is out of the house; it’s your turn to cook for the kids; the family has had their fill of microwave dishes and fast food. What are you going to do?

If cooking is not a strong suit for you (I’m in the same boat) then you may have already found yourself in a situation like this before. Chances are, it will happen again too. That’s why, this week, I want to share with you some ideas and recipes of foods that you can make in a pinch, require minimal culinary skill, and are relatively healthier than going out for fast food.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut and ignore the most obvious. Let’s begin with some menu items that you likely already know how to make (or can find a simple recipe for):

  • Breakfast for dinner– eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, pancakes, french toast, egg casserole… there are so many avenues to take.
  • Chili– what I like about chili is the high ceiling for improving your dish as you advance in skill.
  • Tacos
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • BLT sandwiches
  • Bagel pizzas
  • Spaghetti (or another simple pasta dish)- this also has a high ceiling for improvement.
  • Salad– you can add ingredients to your liking. Remember though that salads can quickly become less healthy with the addition of certain dressings and additives.
  • Hamburgers/hot dogs with tater tots or fries– of course, you can go get some fast food, but why not make the same thing with better-quality ingredients and more to your family’s personal liking.
  • Chicken salad
  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Grilled chicken and cheese wrap
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes– kids love helping with mixing the meatloaf ingredients with their hands.
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Pulled pork sandwiches
  • Tater tot casserole (or maybe another traditional casserole)
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Shrimp and rice
  • Kabobs- just don’t let the kids stick each other with the skewers.

Many of these options have steps that a child could participate in if you want to make the cooking a “family experience.”

Now here are a few ideas of easy-to-make dishes that you may not  have made or heard of before, but are sure to be a big hit:

* Disclaimer- these recipes are all the product of another’s work. Legally, I am allowed to share the ingredients and a link to the recipe, but I cannot copy and paste the recipe on the Rock Solid Fatherhood blog. Please follow the link if any of these meal ideas sound interesting to you. Thanks for understanding!


Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad


Salad ingredients:
1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
2 (3-ounce) packages of ramen noodles*, crumbled (you will not use the seasoning packet)
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned (or diced)
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)

Sesame honey vinaigrette ingredients:
1/2 cup avocado oil (or vegetable oil, or any cooking oil)
1/4 cup honey (or your desired sweetener)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
pinch of salt and black pepper

Recipe found at:


Quickest Black Beans and Quinoa

1 c. quinoa*
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. jar high-quality prepared salsa
1 large handful of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Head of red lettuce, washed, cored, and separated into leaves

One-Pot Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
Olive oil

For Teriyaki sauce/glaze:
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Recipe found at:


Sheet Pan Nachos

For the ground beef cheese sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, or a combination

For building the nachos:
1 (16-ounce) bag restaurant-style tortilla chips
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, or a combination
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (8.5-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small Roma tomato, diced
Sour cream, for serving
Cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving

Recipe found at:


Rosemary Salmon and Veggies:

1-1/2 pounds salmon fillets, cut into 4 portions
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Lemon wedges

Recipe found at:


Hopefully, this post got the wheels spinning for some ideas that you could try to “spice things up” for dinner. If you have any tried and true classics that you would like to share with the rest of the fathers, please share down in the comments.

As always, stay Rock Solid, dads!