Main menu


Healthy Back to School Dinner Ideas Kids & Adults Love

The days are starting to feel like fall and I’m SO ready for all of the fall flavors. In this roundup you’ll find delicious, healthy back to school dinner ideas that use up seasonal produce and that the whole family will love — kiddos included! Skip the boxed mac and cheese and add some flavor, protein & veggies to your weeknight dinner rotation.

Yes, there are over 50 recipes here and yes, they’re all incredible (and Tony-approved!) I included a mix of meat and plant-based options for yummy Meatless Mondays, plus plenty of 30-minute dinner recipes for quick and easy meals that are great for after school.

What makes these dinners great for back to school?

I picked out tons of amazing recipes that are not only kid-friendly, but they’re also:

  • Easy to make and enjoy for days — feel free to double them to feed more!
  • Filled with sneaky veggies, or great for serving with a side of your kiddos’ favorite fruits or vegetables.
  • Packed with different types of protein. You’ll find chicken, seafood, plant-based and more to try out with your kiddos.
  • Adaptable to your kid’s or family’s taste preferences! Remember to look at the notes section in each recipe.

If any of your kids are nut-free check out our full nut-free category for tons of great recipes.

I’ve also marked these recipes gluten free, vegetarian and nut free for ease, but be sure to check out each recipe’s notes section for ways to adjust as needed.

  • Vegetarian = VT. Many recipes can easily be made vegetarian, just check the notes section of that recipe.
  • Gluten free = GF. Use corn tortillas, gluten free buns, pasta, breadcrumbs and flours where recipes call for it.
  • Nut free = NF. Keep recipes nut free by using olive oil instead of coconut oil, regular milk instead of nut milk & omitting any nut garnishes.

Whether you’re feeding the family or meal prepping for the week, get these healthy back to school dinners on your menu ASAP! They make the best leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.

spinach beef pasta on a plate with a fork

Healthy Pasta Recipes

Easily make all of these recipes gluten free by using your favorite gluten free pasta or noodles like this brand.

One Pot Cheesy Mushroom Spinach Beef Pasta GF, NF

Roasted Rainbow Vegetable Pasta with Cashew Pesto + Goat Cheese VT, GF

Vegetarian Spinach Pumpkin Lasagna VT, GF, NF

Spinach Garlic Parmesan Orzo with Crispy Bacon GF, NF

Roasted Butternut Squash Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Couscous GF, NF

Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin & Honey VT, GF

Stovetop Southwest Tuna Mac and Cheese GF, NF

The Best Healthy Turkey Lasagna You’ll Ever Eat GF, NF

Incredible Caramelized Onion Spinach Chicken Pasta Bake GF, NF

Bacon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Spaghetti GF, NF

Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole GF, NF

Spinach Bacon Pumpkin Mac and Cheese GF, NF

Brown Butter Acorn Squash Pasta with Toasted Hazelnuts + Sage VT, GF

Vegan Pasta Primavera with Creamy Garlic Cashew Sauce VT, GF

One Pan Creamy Thai Peanut Chicken Couscous GF

Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese VT, GF, NF

30 Minute Brown Butter Goat Cheese Grilled Veggie Orzo VT, GF, NF

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese You’ll Ever Eat VT, GF

Creamy Sweet Corn & Brown Butter Ricotta Pasta VT, GF, NF

30 Minute Vegan Stir Fry Sesame Noodles with Chickpeas & Basil VT, GF, NF

Saucy Baked Pumpkin Pasta GF, NF

Zucchini Mac and Cheese VT, GF, NF

Cozy Roasted Vegetable Butternut Squash Lasagna VT, GF, NF

creamy tomato orzo soup in a mug next to crackers

Soups, Stews & Chilis

Creamy Tomato Orzo Soup with Mini Turkey Meatballs GF, NF

Mom’s Slow Cooker Beef Stew GF, NF

Actually, the Best Vegetarian Chili Ever VT, GF, NF

Vegan Curried Pumpkin Lentil Soup VT, GF

The Best Chicken Soup You’ll Ever Eat GF, NF

Slow Cooker Black Bean Pumpkin Turkey Chili GF, NF

The Best Dal Ever VT, GF

Healing Ginger Coconut Chicken Brown Rice Soup GF

Lightened Up Cheddar Cauliflower Broccoli Soup VT, GF, NF

Healthy White Chicken Chili GF, NF

The Best Minestrone Soup VT, GF, NF

BBQ Ranch Chicken Quinoa Bowls GF, NF

The Best Healthy Turkey Chili GF, NF

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup GF, NF

Vegan Coconut Tomato Lentil Soup VT, GF

lifting a slice of healthy enchilada casserole out of a baking dish

Tacos, Burritos & Enchiladas

Keep these recipes gluten free by simply using corn tortillas or grain free tortillas like these.

Chipotle Black Bean Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole VT, GF, NF

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Skillet VT, GF, NF

Amazing Easy Turkey Tacos (with a slow cooker option!) GF, NF

Vegetarian Plantain & Black Bean Taco Cups VT, GF, NF

Damn Good Salmon Taco Bowls For Two GF, NF

Jalapeño Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Lime Crema VT, GF, NF

Freezer-Friendly Green Chile Chicken Burritos GF, NF

Sheet Pan Roasted Veggie Tacos (with yummy sauce options!) VT, GF, NF

Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice in a pan

Stir Frys & One Pan Meals

Mama’s Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo) GF, NF

Sheet Pan Moroccan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes & Cauliflower GF, NF

Turkey Picadillo (with a slow cooker option!) GF, NF

Arroz con Gandules (rice with pigeon peas) VT, GF, NF

30-Minute Sesame Chicken Green Bean Stir Fry GF, NF

One Pot Vegan Coconut Curried Brown Rice with Tofu VT, GF

Mama’s Chickpeas in Sofrito with Arroz con Gandules VT, GF, NF

Healthy Orange Chicken Stir Fry with Coconut Cauliflower Rice GF

One Pan Thai-Inspired Coconut Yellow Curry Chicken & Rice GF

Mom’s Authentic Puerto Rican Rice and Beans VT, GF, NF

One Pan Sazon Skillet Chicken GF, NF

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry GF, NF

One Pan Tandoori Chicken with Spiced Coconut Rice GF

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala GF

turkey meatballs in a skillet with tomato basil sauce and burrata

Meatballs & Meatloaves

Juicy Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce with Burrata GF, NF

One Pan Ginger Chicken Meatballs with Peanut Sauce GF

Mom’s Ultimate Vegetarian Lentil Loaf VT, GF, NF

Cheesy Chicken Quinoa Enchilada Meatloaf Muffins GF, NF

Cheddar-Stuffed Sweet Potato BBQ Turkey Meatloaf GF, NF

Sheet Pan Zucchini Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce GF

Greek Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Orzo & Creamy Feta Yogurt Sauce GF, NF

One Pan Cilantro Chicken Meatballs in Mango Coconut Sauce GF

Oh So Good Chicken Meatballs in Pumpkin Coconut Curry Sauce GF

vegan chickpea wraps stacked on top of eachother

Sandwiches, Burgers & Wraps

Keep these recipes gluten free by using your favorite gluten free buns or wraps.

Vegan Pecan Apple Chickpea Salad Wraps VT, GF

Seriously Good Sweet Potato Cheddar BBQ Chicken Burgers GF, NF

Incredible Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Sandwiches GF, NF

Buffalo Zucchini Chicken Burgers GF, NF

15-Minute Sweet Potato Salmon Cakes GF, NF

Ultimate Vegan Black Bean Burgers with Creamy Tahini Garlic Sauce VT, GF, NF

Healthy turkey sloppy joes

Kid-Friendly Comfort Food

Keep any of these recipes nut free by using regular milk or oat milk instead of nut milk.

30 Minute Healthier Turkey Sloppy Joes with Homemade Sauce! GF, NF

Homemade Crispy Baked Fish Sticks (kid & toddler-friendly!) GF, NF

Blow Ya Mind Cheddar Broccoli Chicken Pot Pie NF

The Best Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets GF, NF

How to Make the Best Cauliflower Pizza Crust VT, GF

Vegan & Gluten Free Curry Chickpea Pot Pie with Sweet Potato ‘Crust’ VT, GF

Butternut Squash, Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole GF, NF

Baked Paleo Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Dip GF

Tofu Vegan Nachos with Cashew Cheese Sauce VT, GF

Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie NF

Delicious Zucchini Pizza Crust Recipe VT, GF

White Chicken Chili Pie with Pumpkin Cornbread Crust NF

I hope you LOVE these easy, healthy back to school dinner ideas! If you try any of them be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you liked it. You can also share a photo in our Facebook group or on Instagram with #ambitiouskitchen. I can’t wait to see!

table of contents title