cookbooks for family dinnerI don’t know about you, but I am tired of making the same dinners on repeat.

I enjoy cooking, but when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is cook the same old boring things. I’ve tried meal prepping on the weekends to make the weeknights easier — to no avail. I need weeknight recipes that don’t require fancy ingredients and that are easy to put together in half an hour or less! To my delight, I have found the following cookbooks to be super helpful in trying new recipes that my family and I actually enjoy, and that, most importantly, are EASY.

“100 Days of Real Food” by Lisa Leake

What I like most about this cookbook, besides the fact that the food actually tastes good, is that these recipes are healthy. Lisa prides herself on making family dinners without the use of processed food as much as possible. The recipes are simple, guilt free, and delicious. I love the weeknight mushroom and kale pasta (a sneaky way to get kids to eat kale), easy fish tacos, and slow-cooker shredded pork and bean tacos (which I can start in the morning before I leave the house). There is also a section for lunches (for both school and work!).

“Dinner Solved! 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!” by Katie Workman

A friend introduced me to Dinner Solved several years ago. These recipes are super easy. Recipes are broken down depending on what your likes are — including tacos, pastas, vegetarian, meats, and seafood. There are sections for lunch, snacks, and dessert as well. Try the “stupid-easy” chicken and broccoli pasta or, my personal favorite, the creamy black bean, mushroom, and zucchini enchiladas.

“Feed These People: Slam Dunk Recipes For Your Crew” by Jen Hatmaker 

Jen and her family host the popular HGTV show “Your Big Family Renovation.” With five children and lovely Southern charm, Jen is definitely an expert on managing meal times! She has a great sense of humor as well, with a section entitled “Food for When You Have No More Damns to Give.” Try the “risotto with whatever you have,” French dip subs, or the potato chip, bacon, and raspberry grilled cheese.

“Everyday Dinners: Real Life Recipes to Set Your Family Up for a Week of Success” by Jessica Merchant

Each of Jessica’s recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less, and there is a lot of variety in this book! There is a great butternut minestrone recipe — an easy way to add more veggies to your kids’ diets. Sprinkled with shaved parmesan on a cold day, this soup is a great lunch or dinner. Other recipes we enjoy from this cookbook include roasted sweet potatoes with honey ginger chickpeas and tahini, crispy orange cauliflower with coconut rice, baked egg baguette (for breakfast OR dinner!), and honey dijon pretzel-crusted salmon.

“Healthy Family Cookbook: 100 Fast and Easy Recipes for the Whole Family” by Brittany Poulson 

Recipes in this book are conveniently broken down into categories like one-pot meals, 30-minute meals, five-ingredient meals, and slow-cooker meals. The flavors in this book are impressive — we’re talking sheet-pan fajitas, one-pan Hawaiian chicken, lemony shrimp pasta, and crispy tofu gyros with tzatziki sauce. A registered dietician, Brittany recognizes the importance of putting healthy meals on the table that will serve all palates and the importance of family dinner time, all while managing a crazy schedule with her three children. 

If you’re looking to expand your recipe repertoire, satisfy a variety of tastes, and simplify your weeknight dinners, check out any of these books! They can all be found on Amazon, and there are plenty of pre-owned copies available. Or check a book out of your local library. Buon appetito!

Cheryl Mastrogiovanni
Cheryl is a native of Salem, MA, and now resides in Arlington with her husband and son. A graduate of Boston College, she has been a high school counselor for over 20 years and enjoys helping seniors navigate the college application process. A lifelong Boston Bruins fan, Cheryl began attending hockey games with her father in the original Boston Garden at the age of 8, a tradition she is now sharing with her son. Cheryl published a children’s picture book about the Bruins, and is also passionate about soccer, Cape Cod, all things Italian, and spending time with her family. As much as she loves to travel, she equally loves coming home. Loves: playing soccer on the weekends, GOOD pizza, hot summer nights, '80s music, sneakers, and being organized Dislikes: long meetings, loud noises, messiness