It’s an idea so compelling that some smart entrepreneurs, such as Brooklyn’s The Dynamite Shop, have made it their business model. Have the kids make dinner. Maybe it’s hard to relinquish control to the young person you just watched try to parallel park for the first time. But you’re running around working or caretaking or doing any of those million things on your parent list. If you’ve got a teen in the house who you trust around a stove, let them make supper. Really. It’s one less thing. These are the no-marinating-required, last-minute, use-up-the-protein-and-veg dishes we entrust to our own big kids.
The best part, of course, forever? The’ll be so proud it’ll make you want to cry. (If you can swing it, we suggest lots of compliments instead.) If everything goes well, maybe you’ve just outsourced one thing on your list a couple nights a week. Imagine the gloriousness of that.
Yes, they can! Any kid obsessed with burritos will rejoice in burrito bowl night. (Pro tip: In a hangry pinch, pick up white rice from the Chinese restaurant nearby.) This is the way to use up that leftover chicken, the herbs about to go, the handful of beans. Burrito bowls work with nearly every roast veggie. You can crack a can of corn if you want to do so. Almost any cheese can work. And the possibility for failure? It’s blessedly low, because you can DIY your own dinner after your kid does all the prep work.
The hits just keep coming: pizza night! This veggie-centric pizza is dotted with bacon, yes, but you could easily leave it off. Home cooks who love to make pizza know a good mini-prep food processor is key. You can often avoid busting out the big guy for these pies, and that is key to not loathing the cooks (in a small way) when it’s cleanup time. This is another epic clean-out-the-fridge dish. Plus, hint, hint, those Brussels sprouts crisp up in almost caramelized fashion. It’s a heck of a way to get vegetables into your not-so-little ones.
When there are multiple kids, there will be multiple arguments. Think: Customizable. Think fast-and-dirty chili. This is the recipe test kitchen director Belle English swears by. No one can get mad if, ultimately, she made her own dinner bowl. Tomato paste is key to the top notes of sweetness in the dish. A bevy of pantry spices like chili powder, paprika, and paprika do the rest of the easy lifting. (Don’t be alarmed when you see beer in the ingredients! You can swap it out for chicken stock, no problem.)
Nothing spells family time like chicken on the grill. If you’re nervous about letting the kids tend the fire by themselves, this super-easy dish can easily be accomplished on a grill pan. A mix of paprika and cumin rub gives the boneless chicken a hit of smoky flavor, but the kids can cut the paprika in half if they’re particularly spice sensitive. After call, the chef’s in charge!
Yum. There’s something about ravioli and tortellini that kids and adults just love. This easy pasta is a perennial hit with small and big folks alike. It’s tortellini alfredo. The pasta is store-bought. The sauce is a sort of fake-out, no-roux béchamel, and boy, is it good: butter and cream and plenty of Parmesan. The peas can be frozen, and they’re so creamy and buttery that it’s the rare kid who picks around them. Parsley is optional; so is ham. It’s basically four core ingredients plus salt and pepper. Hello, weeknight winner.
Find us the kid who says “no” to nachos. We’ll wait! There’s a special sort of genius to this recipe, which is another one that’s ideal for leftover chicken. (Make the kid pick the meat off the bird you just roasted; it’s fine. They’re learning about reducing waste!) Plenty of fresh avocados and tomatoes actually make us feel good about serving this for dinner.
Yes, you could insist on salad on the side. Or you could take it easy; it’s nachos night! Avocados are produce. Sour cream is deserved. Breathe. And don’t let them sic you with dishes.