Busy school night meal ideas are a must for busy families. Here are 99 delicious, easy and family friendly school night meal ideas that are perfect for busy school nights. Whether you’re using an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Skillet or Sheet Pan this massive collection of quick school night meal ideas are sure to be a hit.
Are week nights crazy at your house? Are you looking for school night meal ideas that are quick and delicious?
We used to be left scrambling to get dinner on the table too! So, dinners were often a stressful chaotic mess. After investing some time and energy into getting our kitchen organized and efficient we turned around our chaotic dinner situation with quick and easy school night meal ideas.
Whether you’re getting in late from work or rushing out to kids activities these busy school night meal ideas are guaranteed to help make dinner prep a ton easier. Our goal is to help you get a wholesome kid approved dinner on the table in least amount of time possible.
This post is massive and contains only the best school night meal ideas. Fair warning!
There are 99 busy school night meal ideas that are guaranteed to please the entire family. To keep things tidy and easy to navigate I’ve divided these school night meal ideas into Instant Pot dinners, Slow Cooker Meals, Skillet Suppers and Sheet Pan Meals.
Use the table of contents right below to help you hop around this school night meal ideas post a little easier.
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99 Crazy Busy School Night Meal Ideas
ALL IN ONE INSTANT POT SCHOOL NIGHT MEAL IDEAS
Do you own an Instant Pot? If not, you really need to consider adding one to your small appliance artillery because it’s one of the handiest tools when it comes to school night meal ideas.
I held off from buying one for ages because I had convinced myself that all the hype around the Instant Pot was just that … hype. Well, it’s the best money I’ve ever invested. I use my Instant Pot a couple of times a week and it really helps cut down on meal time prep in our house. It’s seriously a must when it comes to quick school night meal ideas.
Here are some of our absolutely favorite one pot wonders. These easy school night meal ideas are awesome because they are easy, quick and come together in one pot. These all-in-one pot school night meal ideas are guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters because they are just plain delicious.
#1 This Instant Pot Beef Stew via Life Made Sweeter is the epitome of an easy and delicious school night meal ideas. Prep and chop your veggies ahead of time and store them in an airtight container like this Komak Biokips to make getting dinner on the table even quicker.
Total time investment is around 35 minutes to prepare this delicious stew that’s loaded with fork tender meat and tons of healthy veggies.
#2 Instant Pot Lasagna via Amy + Jack is another delicious must try Instant Pot Dinner. On nights when you and your family are craving comfort food there’s nothing better than this cheesy rich lasagna. This can also easily be made ahead of time and reheated for a quick and easy dinner. This is why this cheesy and comforting lasagna is one of our go to school night meal ideas!
We use the spring form pan that comes with this 6 and 8 quart compatible accessory kit that is available on amazon.
#3 Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Burrito Bowls via Recipes Simple is guaranteed to become another family favorite.
It’s 100% another one of our favorite easy school night meal ideas!
#4 Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana via Simply Happy Foodie is the perfect dinner for a cool fall evening. Loaded with Italian sausage, potatoes and greens this soup is comfort food at its finest.
We love to swap out the spinach/kale for Swiss Chard for an earthier flavor. This soup also freezes really well (before adding the cream). So, making this in large batches and freezing for busy weeknight dinners is certainly something to consider. ModernKitchen’s reusable silicone food storage bags are a great way to freeze soups. They are leak proof and can be organized flat to save freezer space.
#5 If you love Salisbury Steak then you’ve gotta try this one-pot-wonder from Cooking with Karli. This Salsbury Steak Meatballs with potatoes and gravy comes together in less than 30 minutes and is one of those school night meal ideas you gotta add to to your meal plan asap!
To up the flavor even more we swap out the french onion soup with powdered onion soup mix and add a splash of white wine.
Serve with a small side salad and you’ve got a a perfect weeknight meal.
#6 This Instant Pot American Goulash via The Country Cook is another example of school night meal ideas that is perfect for cool fall nights when the family is begging for pasta. This easy all-in-one Instant Pot dinner takes just 5 minutes in your pressurized Instant Pot and is loaded with flavor.
Top with a 3-cheese blend to make this extra satisfying.
#7 Instant Pot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya via Tastes Better From Scratch is packed with flavor. Double the batch to make a ton of leftovers for easy lunches and dinners later in the week.
Hooray for these easy and delicious school night meal ideas!
#8 This one-pot wonder Pasta and Fagioli from Simply Happy Foodie is a great meatless meal for busy nights.
This delicious recipe requires bringing your pot up to pressure twice; first to cook the past and then to make the stock. The extra step is so worth it because this is a delicious hearty soup packed with a ton of flavor.
#9 If you love egg rolls then you’ve got to add this Instant Pot Egg Roll In A Bowl from The Awe Filled Homemaker to your meal plan.
This one-pot-wonder comes together in just minutes. It’s packed with flavor, low carb and inexpensive to make. It’s the perfect meal for a busy school night!
#10 If you’re a fan of Thai food then this Instant Pot Pad Thai from The Girl On Bloor is a must try. This is one of those school night meal ideas that comes together quickly and is a real treat on a busy school night.
It’s a one pot wonder loaded with flavor that doesn’t taste like it took less than 20 minutes to make. It looks and tastes like you’ve been cooking and preparing for hours! We’re big fans of Watcharee’s Pad Thai Sauce and extra wide brown rice noodles from Clearspring when we make this dish. The extra wide noodles add an extra chew to the meal that compliments the textures so well.
#12 If you love stuffed peppers then you’ve gotta try these Best Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers from Sweet & Savory Meals.
Sweet bell peppers are loaded with a tasty mixture of rice and ground beef. These delicious Stuffed peppers freeze well and make wonderful leftovers for lunches later in the week. This is another one of our absolute favorite school night meal ideas because it incorporates all the food groups and provides a satisfying and healthy mean for our family.
#13 Fan of chili? Then you need to add this Best Instant Pot Chili via the Salty Marshmallow to your meal plan. Loaded with ground beef, beans and heaps of flavor this easy chili recipe is ready in just about 30 minutes.
#14 This tangy Instant Pot Balsamic Chicken dinner from Life Made Sweeter is one of those school night meal ideas you’ll make over and over again. Tender chicken and vegetables are cooked together in a tangy balsamic sauce that leaves the chicken juicy and flavor.
Tip* Easily change up the vegetables by swapping out asparagus for broccoli or cauliflower. We’ve tried this with mushrooms, peppers, snow peas and green beans. Any combination of vegetables work. Simply chop vegetables that require longer cooking times to ensure that all the vegetables cook evenly.
#15 We like to add at least one fish/shellfish meal to our meal plan every week. This Instant Pot Shrimp Scampi from Garden In Our Kitchen is our go-to shrimp dish. Ready in under 30 minutes we love to boost the flavor to this one-pot wonder by topping with freshly grated parmesan and tons of ground black pepper.
#16 If you love chicken pot pie you’re going to LOVE this Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie recipe from Eating On a Dime.
This recipe serves up all the delicious flavors of a traditional chicken pot pie in a fraction of the time. This easy dinner recipe takes less than an hour and will not disappoint with it’s delicious flavors and savory gravy.
#17 Delicious homestyle Meatloaf and mashed potatoes is a favorite in our home. This Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes from Simply Happy Foodie is a convenient meal that require basic ingredients that you most likely already have at home.
Start to finish this meal takes just about an hour.
*Tip Use a spring form pan like the one included in this Instant Pot accessory kit to make clean up easier.
#18 Do you love tacos? And, pasta? Then you’ve gotta try this delicious Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta from Aimee Geroux. This one pot wonder is seriously the best of both worlds.
Tip* For some added heat and smoke flavor you can add some Chipotle Morita Chile Paste. Start with a teaspoon and adjust for you heat and smoke preferences.
#19 Ready in under an hour these Instant Pot Beef Gyros via 365 Day Of Crockpot are one of the best busy school night meal ideas you can try.
You can easily make this tender beef same day or prepare it in advance to use through the week for a quick dinner before the kid’s activities. We especially love gyros because you can top them with fresh toppings like red onions, tzatziki and tomatoes and take them with you on the go.
#20 Ever had Cuban Picadillo? Full of bold flavors this Instant Pot Picadillo from Skinny Taste pairs well with simple sides like coleslaw, rice and even white pasta. This easy Instant Pot dinner idea is ready in under 20 minutes.
Looking for more easy dinner ideas?
- For even more easy and delicious Instant Pot recipes check out these 100+ best family friendly Instant Pot recipes.
- Is getting dinner on the table difficult on busy weeknights? Here are over 200+ easy family approved casseroles that make getting dinner on the table a breeze.
- And, for even more easy and quick dinner ideas check out these lazy weeknight dinner recipes.
EASY SLOW COOKER MEALS
I know a ton of people who’ve done away with their slow cookers in lieu of an Instant Pot. But, on days where you just don’t have the time to wait for your Instant Pot to get to pressure because you’ve got to get dinner on the table ASAP a slow cooker is still 100% the way to go.
Here are 20 of our favorite slow cooker meals. These are dinner ideas that we put together in the morning when we’ve got a busy day ahead to ensure that dinner is ready and waiting for us when we get home.
#21 Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin via Bless This Mess.
#22 Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli via The Recipe Critic.
#23 Slow Cooker Lo Mein via Damn Delicious
#24 Crock Pot Shepherd’s Pie via Tastes Of Lizzy T
#25 Slow Cooker Pot Roast and Root Vegetables via Cooking Classy
#26 Crockpot Black Bean Chicken Chili from Skinny Ms
#27 Mediterranean Chicken in The Slow Cooker via Family Food On The Table
#28 Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken via OMG Chocolate Desserts
#29 Crockpot Stuffed Peppers via Slow Cooker Gourmet
#30 Slow Cooker Italian Chicken & Potatoes via The Recipe Critic
#31 Ultra Creamy Mac & Cheese In The Crockpot via Spend With Pennies
#32 Baby Bella Chicken Slow Cooker Recipe via Cutefetti
#33 Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast via Dinner Then Dessert
#34 Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage via Crock Pot Ladies
#35 Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs via Recipes That Crock
#36 Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice via Well Plated
#37 Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie via I Am Homesteader is another one of those school night meal ideas that is so good you’ll catch yourself making it over and over again!
#38 The Best Slow Cooker Chili via Pink When
#39 Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup via Well Plated
#40 Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies via Tip Buzz
SIMPLE ALL-IN-ONE SKILLET DINNERS
Simple one pot wonder skillets are a great idea on busy night when you want something quick, healthy and delicious.
Here are a handful of our favorite busy school night meal ideas that you can prepare in your favorite skillet.
We recently bought an Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole and love it. It can be used to marinate, cook and store food and is oven safe up to 400 degrees. It’s a great way to prepare skillet dinners that require stove top starts and oven finishes.
#41 One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables via Half Baked Harvest
#42 Easy One Pot Lasagna via Damned Delicious
#43 Skillet Greek Oregano Chicken & Orzo With Tomatoes In Garlic Oil via Baked Harvest
#44 Skillet Chicken Tortilla Pie via Pinch Of Yum
#45 One Pot Mexican Shakshuka via Joyful Healthy Eats
#46 Cheesy Gnocci and Sausage Skillet via Let’s Dish
#47 Lemon Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs & Green Beans via Eat Well
#48 One Pan Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomatoes and White Beans via Sweet Peas & Saffron
#49 Harvest Skillet Chicken with Apples, Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes via Closet Cooking
#50 Skillet Chicken Cacciatore via Delicious Meets Healthy
#51 Easy Sausage and Pepper Skillet via All The Healthy Things
#52 One Pan Skillet Ramen via Chelsey’s Messy Apron
#53 Ground Beef Cheesesteak Skillet via My Life Cookbook
#54 Weeknight Sausage & Zucchini Skillet Lasagna via Love Bakes Good Cakes
#55 Bacon Kale Skillet Mac N Cheese via Call Me PMC
#56 Mexican Quinoa Dinner via Cooking On The Front Burner
#57 Skillet Beef Fajitas and Veggies via A Healthy Life For Me
#58 Quick and Easy Chicken Fajita Skillet via Eating On a Dime
#59 Skillet Chicken and Dumplings via The Lean Green Bean
#60 Savory Pierogie & Kielbasa Skillet via Mom Foodie
Stir fry’s are another favorite in our house especially during the summer months when we grow most of our own produce.
These easy one pan dinners make for great busy school night meal ideas because they are easy to put together, cook quickly and can be customized to include your families favorite proteins and vegetables.
The trick to a great stir fry is a good steel wok that’s heated to a HOT temperature. We use a traditional hand hammered steel wok and love it!
#61 Garlic Soy Sauce Shrimp Stir Fry via Dinner Then Dessert
#62 Steak and Pepper Stir Fryvia Dinner At The Zoo
#63 Stir Fry Noodles with Chicken & Vegetables via Barefeet In The Kitchen
#64 Lemon Chicken Stir Fry via Fox & Briar
#65 Pad See Ew via Gimme Some Oven
#66 Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai via Pinch Of Yum
#67 Easy Tofu Stir Fry via Food With Feeling
#68 Broccoli Tofu Stir Fry via Build Your Bite
#69 Honey Ginger Tofu and Veggie Stir Fryvia Pinch of Yum
#70 Beef and Broccoli Ramen Stir Fry via Simply Recipes
#71 Unstuffed Egg Roll Stir Fry via Clean Food Crush
#72 Ginger Shrimp Stir Fry via Little Spice Jar
#73 15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken via Host The Toast
#74 Teriyaki Beef and Pepper Stir Fryvia Jamie Cooks It Up
#75 Pork Ramen Stir Fry via Julie’s Eats and Treats
#76 Orange Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus via Clean Food Crush
#77 Lemony Chicken Stir Fry with Asparagus via Rachel Shultz
#78 Spicy Sriracha Shrimp and Zucchini Lo Mein via Baker by Nature
#79 Japchae (Korean Noodle Stir-Fry) via Gimme Some Oven
#80 Ground Beef & Veggie Stir Fry via Unbound Wellness
SHEET PAN DINNERS
Sheet pan dinners also make wonderful school night meal ideas. These one pan wonders are great because they are easy to prepare, cook up pretty quick and make clean up a breeze.
When planning to add sheet pan dinners to your weekly meal plan make sure you’re equipped with a large sized warp resistant sheet pan that can easily fit an entire meal for your family. If clean up is a challenge a good soak and scrub with Bar Keepers Friend always does the trick in our house.
Here are a handful of flavorful, easy and kid approved sheet pan dinners you gotta try.
#81 Sheet Pan Garlic Herb Butter Chicken via Cafe Delites
#82 Roasted Lemon Chicken and Green Beans Sheet Pan Meal via Kalyn’s Kitchen
#83 Sheet Pan Chicken with Chorizo and Asparagus via Irena Macri
#84 Roasted Asian Salmon and Green Beans via Kalyn’s Kitchen
#85 Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin and Veggies via No. 2 Pencil
#86 Sheet Pan Garlic Ranch Pork & Potatoesvia Together As Family
#87 One Pan Teriyaki Salmon & Veggiesvia Eazy Peazy Mealz
#88 Easy Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas via The Busy Baker
#89 Sheet Pan Chicken Bruschetta via The Girl On Bloor
#90 Roasted Crispy Cheddar Pork Chops via The Recipe Critic
#91 Sheet Pan Lemon Parmesan Garlic Chicken & Veggies via Cafe Delites
#92 Hawaiin Barbeque Sheet Pan Dinner via Aimee Mars
#93 Easy Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil via Eazy Peazy Mealz
#94 Brown Sugar Garlic Baked Pork Chops via Dinner Then Dessert
#95 Sheet Pan Italian Sausage and Veggies via Chelsea’s Messy Apron
#96 Baked Lemon Chicken with Asparagus via Well Plated
#97 Sheet Pan Gnocci and Veggies via How Sweet Eats
#98 Sausage, Potato & Broccoli Sheet Pan Supper via Mary’s Whole Life
#99 Sheet Pan New England Clam Bake via College Housewife
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