Tag Archives for " family dinners "

1 Use these easy dinner recipes for some delicious leftovers for your family! These school lunch ideas will make packing a breeze--no extra cooking required.

8 School Lunch Ideas from Easy Dinner Leftovers

You’ve seen pictures online of the cute school lunches with fruit cut like flowers and sandwiches in shapes of animals. You think, who has time for that?? But don’t worry! Packing lunch is a breeze with these easy weeknight dinner recipes that turn into delicious leftovers for school the next day; all you have to do is pack the thermoses and you’re good to go!

Related: Top 5 Thermos Containers We’ve Tested

Do you need more weeknight dinner ideas that make great lunch leftovers? Get a sample meal plan here and don’t think twice about what to cook again.


These recipes are kind of like a two-for-one: cook once and get two meals. Win! What’s best is that all these meals are just delicious the next day as they were for dinner.

Use these easy dinner recipes for some delicious leftovers for your family! These school lunch ideas will make packing a breeze--no extra cooking required.

Forget the sandwiches and enjoy these easy school lunch ideas from the leftovers you’ll have after making these delicious dinners!

1. Hearty Vegetable Soup

Hearty Vegetable Soup - MOMables.com

This soup is a great way to pack all the veggies your kids need in one meal without all the unnecessary ingredients you’ll find in canned soup! This recipe is so easy to make for dinner and even easier to pack for lunch. Just put some in a thermos and you’re good to go!

2. Spaghetti Carbonara

Easy spaghetti carbonara recipe every kid will love! This dinner recipe is great for a thermos leftover lunch!


Don’t be intimidated by this spaghetti carbonara; it’s actually really simple! Kids won’t be able to resist the cheesy spaghetti or bacon, so this is a great dish to add to your dinner rotation. It’s great for the next day’s lunch packed in a thermos (unless your family gobbles it all up for dinner!)

3. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo - MOMables.com


This creamy chicken and broccoli alfredo is made in one skillet and is an awesome way to get your kids to eat their green veggies! A perfect blend of noodles, chicken, cheese, and broccoli, this recipe is one you’ll definitely want to have on hand for quick weeknight meals and easy school lunch leftovers.

4. Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Chicken and Pasta Skillet Meal

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Chicken and Pasta Skillet Meal - MOMables.com

Another easy skillet meal that makes fantastic thermos lunches for school the next day! Your family will think you spent hours cooking this delicious sun dried tomato chicken dish, but it all comes together in under an hour. Kids will love to open their thermos at lunch and find this creamy pasta!

5. Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup 

Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup - MOMables.com

A creamy, hearty baked potato soup that requires almost no effort? It’s a winner in my book–and yours too, I’m sure! Simply throw all your ingredients in the slow cooker and let the magic happen. A dinner that cooks itself and makes great thermos lunches for school is a dinner I can love!


6. Quick and Easy Skillet Lasagna

Skillet Lasagna - LauraFuentes.com

This easy dinner requires just one skillet (less dirty dishes!) and makes delicious leftovers for you and your kids. You get the same savory, cheesy flavors of lasagna without the hours of preparation and baking. Simply place the leftovers in a thermos for the next day and you won’t even have to think about what to pack for lunch!

7. Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup - MOMables.com

Crockpot meals are ideal for busy families who may not always have time to cook dinner every night. All you have to do is throw everything in and let it cook; it’s as simple as that. Pair the easiness of a slow cooker meal with a classic like chicken noodle soup and you have a dinner the whole family will have seconds (or thirds) of. Your kids will love to open their lunchbox the next day and find a thermos full of this yummy soup!

8. Jambalaya Pasta Salad

Jambalaya Pasta Salad - LauraFuentes.com

Put some spice into your lunch-packing routine with this Creole Jambalaya Pasta Salad! It’s filling, packed with veggies, and has just a kick of Cajun spice, but feel free to adjust it to your family’s preferences. Enjoy this New Orleans-inspired dish for dinner and pack cold leftovers for lunch the next day.

Keep checking in here at MOMables.com for more back-to-school tips and ideas and check out our sample meal plan to make dinner a little easier for you and your family!

3 20 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Ideas

20 Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipe Ideas

What do you do with all of your holiday leftovers?

20 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Ideas

There are only so many times you can eat it the same way, then there comes a point where you just can’t handle another plain slice of turkey. It gets to be too much.

That’s why we love coming up with creative ways to repurpose leftovers here at MOMables!  We have everything you need, right here! That includes your abundance of leftover turkey in the fridge waiting to be enjoyed. Here are 20 delicious ideas we’ve compiled from our own blog and around the web to kick-start your recipe making.

From MOMables:

Turkey Broccoli Quiche: Great packed up for lunches, or enjoyed at dinnertime, this fresh recipe idea is a great idea for using those leftovers in a new way.

Turkey Broccoli Quiche

Turkey Stuffing Burgers: Turn that leftover stuffing and turkey into a burger patty! Enjoy it on leftover rolls or a bun. Garnish with cranberry sauce or relish.

Homemade Pasta Helper: Better than boxed! A great homemade recipe that’s adaptable for any meat, which makes it great for turkey leftovers.

Thanksgiving Cupcakes: What kid can turn down any food with cupcake in the title? A fun way for the whole family to nibble on the bite-size treats as a meal or an appetizer.

Thanksgiving Quesadillas: My daughter loves quesadillas in her lunch box, so this recipe will be a hit at my house after Thanksgiving! Simple and delicious.

Pot Pies: Instead of chicken, dice up that turkey, and bake it in a delicious pot pie for dinner. They also freeze great so you can enjoy them in the future.

Pot Pie

Southern Gumbo: This time of year, when the weather gets cooler, there’s nothing better than a warm bowl of stew or gumbo at dinnertime. This Southern Gumbo recipe is perfect for using up holiday leftovers.

Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box: This fabulous lunch idea might feature chicken, but can just as easily be packed with turkey instead. A great non-sandwich option.

More of our favorites:

Stuffed Peppers:  Daily Unadventures in Cooking shares an easy and yummy new way to enjoy those leftovers with their Stuffed Peppers recipe.

Thanksgiving Pizzas: Not only do they look beautiful, but these Thanksgiving Pizzas by Family Fresh Cooking would also be perfect packed up for lunch!

Turkey Chili with Kale: This was too delicious not to share! The Kitchn shows how to make a healthy chili with turkey leftovers. You could even serve it over rice for another spin on this hearty dish.


Thanksgiving Eggs Benedict: Leftovers aren’t just for lunch or dinner. Check out this recipe for a fun twist on breakfast.

Turkey Reuben Panini: Growing up, my father loved hot Reuben sandwiches.  This recipe by PaniniHappy would’ve been a hit in my house.

Turkey Quinoa Meatballs: Who says turkey can only be a sandwich? Turn it into a delicious meatball instead, thanks to Fitnessista.

Turkey Taco Wraps: Speaking of quinoa, here’s another healthy idea–turning it into a hearty taco instead.

Club Eggrolls: Use turkey instead of chicken for these easy prep, quick-fix eggrolls from DinnerDishes&Desserts.

Turkey Nachos: I’m a chip addict. Nachos are right up my alley for leftovers thanks to this delish idea from Whole Foods Market, including cranberry salsa to go with it.


Turkey Casserole: A great weeknight dish that you can prep ahead and bake up for dinner during your busy workweek.

Turkey & Cranberry Sushi: I never would have thought to make Sushi out of Thanksgiving leftovers! This clever recipe is thanks to ClosetCooking.

Cranberry Sauced Muffins: It’s not only about the turkey when it comes to Thanksgiving leftovers. Here is a yummy muffin recipe to use up that extra cranberry sauce.

13 easy pumpkin chili recipe - a classic fall favorite

Easy Pumpkin Chili

Looking for an easy pumpkin chili recipe? Look no further. This recipe is easy to make and is a filling meal with a hint of our favorite fall flavor. The fall classic meal just got better. Your family is going to love this easy pumpkin chili recipe.

Oh, Chili. How I love a nice big bowl of your hearty flavors, and to think you just got better by adding some of my favorite fall ingredient: pumpkin!

I love this recipe because whether you use homemade pumpkin puree or canned, the thickness and taste are delicious. You can use beef or turkey for this recipe, or make it completely vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding two extra cans of beans.

Believe it or not, I introduced this recipe on a whim, not knowing if my family would actually eat it. I thought, worse-case scenario, I’m stuck with a lot of delicious chili for lunch myself. Either way, it was a win-win, right?

Related: Top 5 Thermos Containers We’ve Tested

Well, every member of my family ate it! And that is a miracle in itself! If you struggle with adding variety to your family’s meals, you know what I’m talking about.

Have you tried pumpkin chili before? How did your family like it?

Family Friendly Pumpkin Chili

easy pumpkin chili recipe - a classic fall favorite
  • Author:
  • Yield: 6


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or grated)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces fresh or canned pumpkin puree


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until it begins to look translucent.
  2. Add in the turkey, garlic, and seasonings. Brown the meat with the seasonings and onion for about 7 minutes, making sure all of the meat is cooked through and broken up into smaller pieces.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and pumpkin puree to the pot, and let it simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, let it sit for about 5 minutes while you set the table or get your plates ready, and serve.


You can use beef or turkey for this recipe or make it completely vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding two 15ounce cans of beans, drained and rinsed.


3 chicken pot pie soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Do your kids love those packaged chicken pot pies that come in a box? Now you can have it in soup form!

chicken pot pie soup

This recipe is one your entire family will surely enjoy!

Quick dinner recipes are always a favorite in my house. Sometimes as a mom, the pressure is on to continually deliver dinner and lunches that satisfy all members of the family! And it can be hard! Fortunately, MOMables is here to relieve some of that pressure and help you put together lunches and dinners your family will love!

Related: Top 5 Thermos Containers We’ve Tested

I love to be able to put together a dinner in less than half an hour and be done (well, except for all the dishes)! This Chicken Pot Pie Soup is exactly that.

The ingredients are simple—things we usually have in our pantry, and everything comes together so quickly. My husband absolutely loved this dish—he is a chicken pot pie lover, so this soup was a huge hit with him! My daughter prefers the soup without “spiciness,” so I have to lower the amount of seasonings to her taste, but when I did that, she absolutely loved it too! This recipe was a big win in our family, and I’m sure it will be in yours, too!

This soup would be perfect in a thermos the next day for lunch!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

chicken pot pie soup

5 from 1 reviews

  • Author:
  • Yield: 6


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
  • 2 cups dried medium egg noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoon each seasoned salt, dry mustard, chili powder, and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup half and half or light cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas


  1. In a large pot, heat the butter until melted
  2. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot, and cook until tender, for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth, chicken, noodles, and seasonings.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the half and half and flour, then add it to the pot.
  7. Add the broccoli and peas to the pot.
  8. Simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  9. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!



Can Family-Style Meals Improve Your Kid’s Eating?

What are some of the ways you have tried to change your kid’s eating habits? Need some fresh ideas?

SNeeding ways to improve your kid’s eating habits is completely normal. More and more parents are feeling like short-order cooks and feel like the kitchen is a chore.

 To help us find ways to improve our kid’s eating, I sought out Jill Castle, a registered dietitian and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School.

 From Jill


When I embarked on writing my book, a childhood nutrition and feeding resource, I knew I wanted to show parents an easy way to feed their kids at mealtime, one that melted away the tension and improved overall eating and enjoyment.  Here, I tell my story.

When my oldest daughter was 9 (and my other three children were 7, 6, and 4), I gave up “plating” their meals. I decided they needed to learn how to feed themselves and that they were better than I was at knowing how hungry they were and what they liked to eat.

I placed our mealtime food items in bowls and platters and set them in the center of the table. We gave thanks, and I said to my oldest, who was 9 at the time, “Why don’t you start with the chicken, take what you want, and pass it around the table.”

Everyone looked at me, including my husband.

“That’s right,” I said, “I have been doing this meal thing all wrong. You know what you like to eat, and how much food is right for your appetite, so you can pick and choose from the meal as we pass things around. The only rule is that this is the meal. No other alternatives. If you need help, let me know.”

Still, they stared.

Then, my 7-year-old said with disbelief, “You mean, this is a smorgasbord?! We can take whatever we want? We can have as much as we want?”

“Yes,” I said, “I would just ask that you remember your manners and that there are six of us at the table. If you choose not to have something, politely pass it on. If there’s something you really like, take some now, and there will be enough here for later.”

I proceeded to hold platters and bowls for my 4-year-old, standing behind him, and letting him scoop up the food he wanted.

That was 8 years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

I changed my feeding course because my husband and I were starting to harp on the kids, who were wasting food (a trigger for both of us who grew up with “just enough”), and he was starting to eat up what was left on the plates—not good!

As a childhood nutrition expert, I had a vision for my kids’ nutrition future. After all, getting kids to eat today often fails to acknowledge tomorrow’s end goal: a grown-up who is internally motivated to eat a variety of nutritious foods, in the unique balance for his health.

So how do I do it?

I select and prepare a tasty meal that includes as many food groups as possible (lean protein, grains, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and dairy or nondairy substitute), and give consideration to my family’s preferences, including at least one or two food items I know will be acceptable. Don’t get me wrong; I’m the one in charge of the menu.

I allow my children to choose which foods they will eat, and how much. There’s no pressure from me to eat more of this or less of that. The kids are in control. Yes, some kids may go crazy at first—even I had one or two who ate a fair amount of bread—but once kids trust that they are free to choose from the presented meal, they settle down and eat to satisfy their appetite. I have found this takes about two to three weeks of consistent family-style meals.

I know changing how I served meals made the biggest difference in my kids’ eating and the vibe at our meal table. Everyone eats. It’s peaceful and enjoyable, mostly. Sometimes, someone complains, and I say, “I’m sorry you don’t like this. You don’t have to eat. But you do need to sit with us.”  More often than not, something from the meal gets eaten.

Family-style feeding matches key tenants in child development and feeding research. For example, when children are allowed to make choices, they learn self-control, independence, and responsibility, which is the basis for self-esteem development.

Kids also learn about taste and their own food preferences, especially when they are exposed to new foods without pressure. Ironically, a no-pressure environment can lead to greater exploration of food and overall better eating, according to Lucy Cooke, a British researcher in kid’s food preferences.

Her research shows that exposure is the name of the game, because it familiarizes children with all sorts of food, a critical component to eating. Too much pressure is counterproductive, according to a 2006 study in Appetite, because kids may develop a dislike for foods they feel pressured to eat, especially vegetables. Even though it took years, my kids now eat lasagna instead of the fruit and bread it’s served with. In fact, they eat almost everything!

Learning to eat is just that—a process—not dissimilar to learning to read or drive a car. If parents make the decisions about food choices and amounts, when are the kids learning to eat? And how will they deal with the newfound freedom that comes when the parents aren’t there to police them? I think you know the answer to that.



imageJill Castle is a registered dietitian and childhood nutrition expert. She is the co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School. You can learn more about her here.