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Family Dinner Ideas That Are Healthy — And Not Boring!


By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

family dinner ideas

Nutritious family dinner ideas don't have to be boring or taste bland. Having the right recipes on hand is a must!

If you're looking for healthy family dinner ideas you can enjoy making and eating with your entire family, you have some delicious options to choose from.

Get creative with meals, use recipe substitutions when necessary, and recruit your kids to help you cook to make eating at home an enjoyable experience!


What Makes Family Meals Healthy?

Healthy family dinner ideas have a few things in common.

They are well-balanced, containing a good mix of fiber-rich starches, non-starchy vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.

Family meals taste delicious, are a good fit for your entire family, and fill you up without empty calories.

Nutritious family dinner ideas contain whole food ingredients rather than refined, highly processed foods.

They are low in or free from added sugar and often contain plant-based oils instead of butter or cream.

Nutritious Ingredient Substitutions

If you can't get all the ingredients you need when preparing healthy meals at home or you simply want to eat healthier, consider healthy ingredient substitutions, such as:

  • Soft tub margarine plus low-fat cottage cheese in place of regular cream cheese
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with low-fat yogurt instead of regular sour cream
  • Low-fat yogurt plus low-fat cottage cheese, or evaporated skim milk, in place of heavy cream
  • Fat-free milk with vegetable oil instead of whole milk or cream
  • Soft margarine containing plant-based oil in place of butter
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder plus vegetable oil instead of baking chocolate
  • Greek yogurt in place of regular mayonnaise

Additional healthy ingredient substitutions to consider when planning healthy meals include:

  • Zucchini noodles in place of regular noodles
  • Olive oil in place of tomato sauce or pizza sauce
  • Cauliflower pizza crust or whole-grain crust instead of regular pizza crust
  • Avocado or vegetable oil in place of butter
  • Mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes
  • Coconut cream in place of heavy cream
  • Broth-based soup instead of cream-based soup
  • Oil-based dressing in place of white sauces or gravies
  • Brown rice or wild rice in place of regular rice
  • Whole-grain pasta instead of regular pasta
  • Oatmeal in place of sugary cereal
  • Lettuce wraps instead of hamburger buns
  • Turkey or veggie burgers in place of regular hamburgers

Freeze fresh meats so they last longer and consider using canned light tuna or canned chicken in recipes if you run out of fresh or frozen meats.


Family Breakfast Ideas

Consider the following nutritious family dinner ideas and recipes, and recruit your kids to help you prepare meals!

Oatmeal Bowls

Create well-balanced breakfast bowls in the morning and get creative while making them.

Simply cook the oats and add your favorite fruit plus a protein-rich topping.

Ideas to try include protein powder, Greek yogurt, sliced almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds.

Consider topping your oatmeal bowl with chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, coconut flakes, or even dark chocolate with almond butter for extra flavor.

Or, try a nutritious zucchini bread oatmeal recipe!

Protein Shakes

If you don't have much time for breakfast prep or you're trying to lose weight, consider a protein shake as a meal replacement when you wake up.

Simply combine a scoop of your favorite protein powder with about two cups of unsweetened almond milk and add fresh or frozen fruit, coffee, matcha powder, cinnamon, nut butter, nuts, seeds, coconut, or any other favorite ingredients.

Blend them together in a blender with ice if you'd like and enjoy!

Breakfast Veggie Fritatta

To make a basic frittata recipe, combine the following ingredients:

  • 6-8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • Veggies of your choice
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Add mushrooms, red peppers, onions, spinach, broccoli, feta cheese, or any other favorite vegetable to this basic recipe.

Combine the ingredients together, bake them according to the frittata recipe instructions, and enjoy a nutritious, delicious family breakfast.

Top your frittata with avocado slices if you'd like!


Like frittatas, omelets are a protein-rich, healthy breakfast that keeps you and your family full for hours.

Combine eggs with feta cheese or olives and your favorite veggies, cook the omelet over medium-high heat until the egg sets, and enjoy your nutritious meal!

Serve it with oatmeal, whole-grain toast, or roasted potatoes if you'd like.

Protein Pancakes

If you and your family love pancakes for breakfast, make them healthy by adding protein powder and nuts or seeds.

Use whole-grain flour or oats instead of white flour.

A sample protein pancake recipe to consider contains the following ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 12 scoops of your favorite protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons of flax meal

Combine all ingredients together according to the recipe instructions, cook your pancakes over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side, and enjoy!

Top protein pancakes with your favorite fruit, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, or even dark chocolate for the kids.

Serve them with eggs if you'd like.


Family Lunch Ideas

If you're ready for some new healthy family dinner ideas for lunch, consider the following meals and recipes:

Greek Salad

Try a refreshing Greek salad recipe your entire family will love.

Ingredients to include are:

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of kalamata olives
  • 1/2 pound of feta cheese

Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Combine all ingredients on the list according to the recipe directions and enjoy!


Making kabobs is simple and fun for your entire family!

Simply add:

  • Your favorite meat (chicken, turkey, shrimp, steak, tofu, etc.)
  • Veggies (bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, onions, etc.)
  • Marinade consisting of olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper

After soaking meat, poultry, or seafood in the marinade for at least 30 minutes, thread the meat and veggies on skewers, throw the kabobs on the grill over medium heat for about 12-15 minutes (turning them over occasionally), and enjoy!

You can also make fruit kabobs as a snack or side dish. Simply thread your favorite fruit (grapes, pineapple, melon, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, etc.) on skewers!


Fajitas make a nutritious family dinner idea that never gets old, as you can change up the ingredients as often as you'd like.

Choose chicken, steak, tofu, or any favorite meat and saute it with veggies, oil, lemon juice, and seasonings according to fajita recipe instructions.

Serve the mixture on whole-grain tortillas or a bed of brown rice if you'd like, or eat it as-is for a lower-carb option.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Rather than heating up chicken soup from a can, which is perfectly fine if you're tight on time, consider a hearty, healthy homemade chicken soup recipe everyone in your family will love.

Use the following ingredients:

  • 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of pearl couscous
  • 2/3 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients according to the recipe instructions, and enjoy dinner with your friends and family!

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

To put a healthy spin on traditional chicken salad containing mayonnaise, consider this Greek yogurt chicken salad recipe instead!

Ingredients include:

  • 1 pound of cooked shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1 large green apple, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients according to the recipe's directions and enjoy.

Serve your salad over leafy greens or whole-grain bread if you'd like!


Family Dinner Ideas

Try these healthy family dinner ideas that are as nutritious as they are delicious!

Pesto Corn Shrimp Salad

To prepare this satiating pesto corn shrimp salad recipe, combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 4 medium ears of sweet corn, husked
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup of packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper

Combine the ingredients and prepare your meal with the recipe instructions, serve, and enjoy it with your family!

Mashed Cauliflower

If you love mashed potatoes but want a lower-carb option, consider trying this mashed cauliflower recipe containing the following ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons of finely chopped herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, or parsley)

Steam and blend the cauliflower in a blender with other ingredients using the mashed cauliflower recipe instructions.

Serve this side dish with chicken, turkey, fish, or lean steak plus additional vegetables of your choice.

Homemade Pizza

Pizza doesn't have to be unhealthy, especially when you make it at home as you can choose nutritious ingredients.

Omitting the red sauce means less sugar, and choosing whole-grain pizza crust over traditional pizza crust can boost the fiber content of your meal.

Consider making homemade pizza using the following ingredients:

  • Whole-wheat pizza dough
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ounce of shaved parmesan cheese
  • 15 basil leaves

Make homemade whole-wheat pizza dough, use store-bought whole-grain dough, or consider cauliflower pizza crust instead!

Follow the recipe instructions to prepare your pizza, replacing red sauce with olive oil.

Top it with extra veggies or grilled chicken, bake your pizza in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18-22 minutes, serve, and enjoy!

Baked Salmon with Asparagus

Salmon is loaded with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Baking salmon in foil helps keep it moist during baking.

When preparing salmon at home, consider using the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of boneless salmon
  • 2 small lemons
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • Additional herbs of your choice (basil, dill, thyme, parsley, green onions, etc.)

Following the recipe instructions, prepare your salmon and bake it in foil for about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serve baked salmon with asparagus and sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, or any other whole grain of your choice.

Slow Cooker Mango Chicken Salsa

After preparing it in a slow cooker, you can eat mango chicken salsa on its own or over a bed of brown rice with avocado and mango slices.

Combine the following ingredients in your slow cooker:

  • 1-1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 16-ounce jar of mango peach salsa
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups of corn
  • 1/4 cup of  chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced

Simply cook the chicken with salsa and seasonings over low heat for about five hours, add in the remaining ingredients according to the recipe directions, and enjoy eating this nutritious family dinner idea.


Getting the Kids Involved

When preparing the family dinner ideas above, get your kids involved as much as possible.

They can help you measure ingredients, add ingredients to mixing bowls, and stir or blend ingredients together.

Cooking is an excellent way to teach your kids the value of nutritious eating, while spending quality time together.

If you're looking for a healthy eating plan for women that keeps you motivated, helps you lose weight or get in shape, and offers unlimited access to family dinner ideas, consider signing up for the Fit Mother Project.

If you're not quite ready to sign up, simply try the free Fit Mom 3-Day Weight Loss Jumpstart to get started on the journey toward a healthier life today!

Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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