7 Mom-Tested Family-Approved Meals to Add to Your Arsenal

Even though summer has technically just begun, if you’re like me, you might already be racking your brain to think of dinner recipes to feed your family. In my house, we have a couple of oddly specific picky eaters (i.e. one who won’t touch a potato but who will run up a $100 tab at the sushi bar), so I’ve come to just make the same four or so meals over and over. This certainly takes the guesswork out of meal planning, but it’s also pretty boring. 

So, I polled my collection of mom friends and begged and pleaded for them to share with me their tried and true, no-fail dinner recipes. What you’ll find below isn’t necessarily the healthiest, most Keto-friendly, or even necessarily gourmet options, but each of the recipes have been mom-tested and family-approved in the homes of my friends and neighbors, which are just the kind of recipes that I need right now. Maybe you do, too?

Honey Garlic Chicken (Kitchen Sanctuary)

This recipe comes from my friend and neighbor who works full-time and is finishing up a doctorate degree which speaks to the ease of this meal. Add in some rice and steamed broccoli and you’ve got affordable take out at home.

Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto (Damn Delicious)

This one comes from my gourmand friend who regularly bakes her bread from scratch and whose hosting skills would put Martha to shame. I had this meal at her house one time and can attest to the fact that even though it contains such exotic ingredients as mushrooms and peas, all of the kids gobbled it up and asked for more. 

Lemon Garlic Instant Pot Chicken and Potatoes (The Recipe Well)

My friend who has lived on the other side of the world from me for several years and just recently landed back in the U.S. swears by this quick and easy recipe. I’m a sucker for anything with lemon in it, so I’ll be adding this to my repertoire this summer. 

Easy, Cheesy Baked Tortellini (Instrupix.com)

My kids will eat anything involving tortellini and, while this recipe isn’t necessarily healthy, it can feed a crowd. In fact, this recipe comes from a friend who has two college football player sons, so she can attest to the fact that it is hearty and satisfying. I’ve also made a variation of this dish to take to new moms because it freezes nicely and you just add some bread and a bag of salad and they have a nice meal at their beck and call. 

Creamy Beef and Shells (Damn Delicious)

This one comes from me and is my son’s favorite thing that I make. It’s basically like homemade Hamburger Helper but probably a little healthier and the flavor is so nice. It’s easy and I always make sure to have the ingredients on hand to whip it up at a moment’s notice. Serve with a salad and breadsticks and you’ve got a winner!

Easy Meatloaf (Allrecipes.com)

It doesn’t get more comforting than a good meatloaf recipe. This one comes from a mom friend who has a great son attending college in New York City. This meatloaf remains his favorite from childhood. Expert tip from this mom: if the idea of a “loaf” turns your kids off, try rolling into meatballs instead. 

Layered Tortellini Pesto Chicken Salad (Betty Crocker)

This salad has been a favorite in my family and in my friend’s family for years. Use a rotisserie chicken to make prep even easier. While the chopping takes a little bit of time, the results are a delicious, hearty yet cool and light salad and are perfect after a day at the pool in the sun or a casual summer dinner on the porch. Throw in a loaf of bread and call it done! 

Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two (Anna, 2007 and Jack, 2009), who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry (and sarcasm). Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, and is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, New Braunfels Monthly and San Antonio Woman, as well as assorted other publications. You can also find her on Instagram (introvertsguidetosobriety). Favorite Restaurant: Bohanan's Favorite Landmark: The Alamo (duh) Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest (not technically SAT, but closer to Jenny's stomping grounds).