School has started, and so has the daily grind of “What’s for dinner?”
There’s an easy way to make dinner fun again: Weekly dinner bars. You can start this fun new tradition by picking out one of these easy food bar ideas to serve up some hot eats one night a week.
The best thing about these weeknight dinner ideas is they make everyone happy. Picky eaters will love the opportunity to create their own meal, and any family members with special dietary restrictions will also find it easy whip up their own meal.
Not to mention, food bars make it easy on you because little cooking is required!
Do you have leftovers in the fridge? Add them to your weekly food bar! Leftover rotisserie chicken, rice, and more become a whole new meal — and you can let your slow cooker do all the work if you need to make BBQ chicken or pulled pork.
Give yourself a break and your slow cooker a workout with these 15 amazingly easy slow cooker chicken recipes!
Once everything’s ready, gather all your food bar ingredients into bowls, stack up your plates, and let everyone serve themselves.
Pasta and pizza bars are always all-around favorites, and my Taco Bowl Bar is sure to please! Read on to find out how I set it up and made my own Chipotle Chicken to go with it, plus find five more weeknight dinner ideas your kiddos and hubby will love!
If the weather’s still warm where you are, try mixing in some of these summer food bars for fun!
1. Taco Bowl Bar
Tacos are always popular, and the best thing about them is you can switch them up with beef, chicken, or even fish. Turn them into bowls like I did here, or stuff them into lettuce wraps for a veggie spin.
I used Chipotle Chicken in mine. It cooks right up on the stove while you’re pulling all the ingredients together, and tastes amazing.
• Cilantro lime rice
• Grilled corn
• Shredded cheese
• Shredded lettuce
Chipotle Chicken Recipe
• 1 1/2 Tablespoons canola oil
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 individual chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1 cup Mexican beer
• 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened. Add garlic and chipotle peppers; sprinkle with paprika and cumin. Saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Add the orange juice, chicken broth, beer, and cilantro and turn the heat to high to bring to a boil. Add the raw chicken breasts; cover and reduce heat to medium-low.
3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and place on a cutting board for a few minutes to cool. Shred the chicken with two forks.
4. Reduce remaining sauce in pan over low heat. Cook the sauce until it reduces by about half and the sauce thickens. Add the shredded chicken back to the pot with the sauce and toss to combine. Top with additional fresh cilantro.
4. Spoon the chicken into a bowl. It pairs well with cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, and minced onion, so you can include these items in your food bar, too.
2. Sloppy Joe Bar
Source: Simply Recipes
A build-your-own Sloppy Joe bar can be fun for kids and adults. Best of all, you can double this recipe from Simply Recipes and freeze half of it to use for another meal.
Ideas for sides:
• Baked potato
• Mashed potatoes
• Hot dogs
3. Sweet Potato Bar
Source: Super Healthy Kids
Put a healthier twist on traditional baked potatoes with a Sweet Potato Bar. Packed with nutrients, they make a great base for a meal, and you can go sweet or savory with your toppings.
• Sauteed apples
• Toasted walnuts
4. Build Your Own Bowl Bar
Source: Hapa Nom Nom
You can go as simple or as fancy as you like with a Build Your Own Bowl food bar. Let kids choose from their favorite veggies and meats to add to their rice, quinoa, or noodles.
• Grilled chicken or pork
• Snap peas
• Peanut sauce
• Teriyaki sauce
5. Build Your Own Banh Mi Bar
Source: The Kitchn
Introduce your family to these delicious Vietnamese sandwiches. Get a variety of condiments and sauces to spice up their sandwiches, and watch them go to town.
• Soft rolls
• Pickled veggies
• Beef brisket
6. Crostini Pizza Bar
Source: Home in High Heels
The fun part about a Crostini Pizza Bar is that you can make a few different types of pizza and enjoy them all without getting full!
• Pizza sauce
• Shredded mozzarella
Your turn! Do you have a go-to family dinner recipe that everyone, even your pickiest eater, loves? Tell me all about it in the comments below!