SAM WOOD: Five of my favourite easy family dinners, from chicken paella to veggie pasta bake.


With so much time at home, most of us are finding ways to broaden our culinary horizons.

Here are five of my all-time family favourites that you can try, that both you and the kids will love.

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Video by Mamamia

Ratatouille Pasta Bake

kid-friendly dinners
Image: Supplied

Nothing says hearty home cooking quite like a big, family-friendly pasta bake. This delicious ratatouille version packs in plenty of veggies but I promise you, it is child approved!

Serves: 6


  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 red capsicum (diced)
  • 1 yellow capsicum (diced)
  • 1 eggplant (cut into 3cm pieces)
  • 2 diced zucchinis
  • 700g tomato passata or puree
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 250g wholemeal (or gluten free) spiral pasta
  • 1 cup cheddar (or tasty) cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for salad

  • 80g mixed salad
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper (to taste)


1. Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly grease a 27cm x 15cm baking dish with 1/2 teaspoon oil.

2. To cook pasta: bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.

3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add remaining oil. Add onion, garlic and chilli and saute for 1-2 minutes or until softened.

4. Add capsicum, eggplant and zucchini. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to soften.

5. Add tomato, water, oregano and season well. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Add ratatouille to the pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, top with basil and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.


7. Serve pasta bake with mixed salad leaves, dressed with lemon and salt to taste.

Chicken Cacciatore

kid-friendly dinners
Image: Supplied

This recipe was actually created by one of our 28ers, Rebecca McCracken, and it was so good we added it into the program.

Serves: 4


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 500g skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • 800g diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 100g black olives (pitted)
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary (dried or fresh - finely chopped)

Ingredients for Cauliflower Mash

  • 1 cauliflower (cut into florets)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese (grated)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 dash black pepper (ground)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (roughly chopped)



1. Heat oil in a large frypan with lid over medium-high heat. Cook onions, garlic and rosemary for a couple of minutes until soft. Add chicken and brown on both sides for a few minutes, then add in tomatoes and olives. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer with lid on for 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add cauliflower to a pot of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and then mash and gently fold in olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper.

3. Remove lid from chicken and let simmer uncovered for five minutes more. Sprinkle with parsley then serve with cauliflower mash.

BLD Pizza

kid-friendly dinners
Image: Supplied

This is such a quick and easy go-to recipe that works for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you don’t like the recipe below, mix up the toppings to suit your family and what you enjoy. The girls love to make homemade pizzas and it’s always a bit of fun setting up some pizza making stations in the kitchen.

Makes 1 pizza.


  • 1 wholemeal (or gluten free) wrap
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 25 g feta cheese
  • 40 g ham (shaved)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (dried)
  • 1 free range egg
  • handful basil leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste


1. Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Lay flat the wrap on the tray and spread with tomato paste.

3. Top the pizza with cherry tomatoes, feta, ham and thyme.

4. Crack an egg in the middle of the pizza.

5. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the egg is cooked to your liking.

6. Top pizza with basil leaves, season with salt and pepper and cut into slices to serve.

Woody's Butter Chicken

kid-friendly dinners
Image: Supplied

This is hands down my favourite recipe in the program. I used to think you’d never be able to make a healthy butter chicken that would taste as good as the real thing. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. Seriously, just try it.

Serves: 4


  • 8 tablespoons basmati rice (raw)
  • 400g chicken thigh fillets (cubed)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 red chilli (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander (ground)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cup tomato passata or puree
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 4 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups kale (finely chopped)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for serving

  • 4 tablespoons fresh coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 lemon wedge


1. To start, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and prepare the rice according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, melt the oil in a frypan over moderate heat.

3. Add the chopped onion, garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir until starting to soften.

4. Add spices to the frypan and sauté for a minute.


5. Add the chicken and stir until starting to brown.

6. Pour in tomato passata, coconut cream and tomato paste. Stir and allow to simmer with lid on for 15 minutes.

7. Next, remove lid and add the kale. Continue to simmer uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Once the rice is cooked, serve it alongside the chicken.

9. Top with fresh coriander and drizzle with fresh lemon juice if desired.

Spring Chicken Paella

kid-friendly dinners
Image: Supplied

This healthy family favourite packs a big dose of veg.

Serves: 4


  • ¾ cup basmati rice (raw)
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion (finely sliced)
  • 280g chicken thigh fillets (roughly diced into 2cm chunks)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (ground or fresh)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 2 bunches asparagus (diced into 3cm pieces)
  • 1 cup green peas (frozen)
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated or shaved)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)


1. Begin by cooking basmati rice according to packet instructions.

2. Next heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and cook for 4 minutes, or until softened.

3. Add chicken to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing regularly until browned all over (the chicken will finish cooking later).

4. Next add in the garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and turmeric and stir through for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

5. Add in the diced tomatoes, asparagus, and cooked basmati rice and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and the liquid has reduced slightly.

6. Stir through peas, baby spinach leaves and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper for 1 minute, or until spinach has wilted and the chicken is ready.

7. Add to a bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley to serve.

What are your go-to family recipes? Let us know in the comments!

Feature image: Instagram: Sam Wood/Supplied.