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21 Easy Dinner Ideas for Teenagers

Are you looking for easy dinner ideas for teenagers who always seem to be starving? When their hunger pangs hit, you don’t always have time to work on complicated recipes.

These easy dinner ideas for teenagers are also perfect for those teaching moments. They are all easy recipes that are a great way to feed a hungry teen.

variety of foods that are easy dinner ideas for teenagers

I’m a big believer in teaching kids how to be self-sufficient, starting with what they’re capable of doing at every stage of their lives. Little ones can assemble cold or room-temperature items.

Preteens and teenagers can do most of the steps of basic recipes. In fact, I’ve seen children on some of the food shows as young as 9 or 10 preparing complex dishes that intimidate some adults.

Although many teenagers’ diets consist of pizza, tacos, and hamburgers, most enjoy good, nutritious food as well. 

To get them started on a lifetime of healthy eating, it’s a good idea to have some basic recipes for your beginner cook. After all, cooking is an important life skill that helps to build the foundation of self-sufficiency.

Sure, you can cook every time your teenager gets hungry. But wouldn’t it be so much better if they could walk into the kitchen and whip up something yummy … and hopefully share some with you?

Great Starting Point for Teenagers

One of the first things that teens need to understand is the importance of good nutrition. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, teenagers need a balance of grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein. 

When helping your teenagers develop a meal plan or healthy snack menu, encourage them to incorporate the food groups listed above as well as some of the healthy fats. 

Make meal planning fun by including your teenagers in the selection of foods as well as meal prep. Being actively involved in the process gives them a sense of control and feeling of accomplishment.

Some of the dinners listed below are easier than others. If you get your younger children used to doing simple tasks in the kitchen, they won’t be as intimidated to cook when they are teens.

variety of easy foods teenagers can make for dinner

I’ve found that the best approach is to start them out with easy meals kids love to eat and then move on to more complex foods. You might discover that even picky eaters will open up and try something new if they made it. 

Some of these recipes might be new to you and your teenager. But many of them are classic favorites that may already be on your dinner rotation.

chicken ramen with vegetables

1. Chicken Ramen with Noodles

Show your teenager how to take ramen noodles up to a whole new level of goodness. 

All you need are a few veggies and some precooked chicken or other meat leftover from the day before. 

This easy dinner idea for teenagers takes the least expensive basic food and ramps it up to a delicious and nutritious meal.

mac and cheese in a mug

2. Mug Mac and Cheese

This beloved macaroni and cheese recipe is easy to make with just a few ingredients, including pasta and cheddar cheese. You can whip it up in just a couple of minutes, so your hungry teenager won’t become your hangry teen.

Or teach your teenager how to do it. Whether your teenager wants an after school snack or quick pick-me-up after sports, this is one of the best and easiest foods for the beginner cook.

3. Spaghetti and Meatballs

Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a bag of frozen meatballs and a jar of spaghetti sauce. 

Your teenager can get as many as he wants from the bag, pour some sauce into a saucepan, add the meatballs, and cook some pasta. It’s easy and delicious.

grilled cheese sandwich with a side of pickles

4. Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwich

If you keep a variety of cheeses in the fridge, your teenager can have some fun experimenting with this one. 

I like to combine either provolone or mozzarella cheese with cheddar cheese, along with a few other add-ons. I love the way the melted cheese wraps around whatever else is added to the sandwich.

For teens who like a lot of spicy heat, adding few jalapeño pepper slices to the cheese sandwiches gives the perfect combination of flavor.

rotel chili in a bowl

5. 3-Ingredient Rotel Chili

Imagine the satisfaction your teenager will experience after making a pot of chili. Sure, you can make it, but why not let your teen in on the fun?

All you need for your teen to make this wonderfully delicious chili are 3 ingredients that you can keep on hand.

bowl and plate of stir fry and rice

6. Stir-Fry Beef and Broccoli

With just a few simple ingredients, your teenager can prepare a super easy meal that seems much more difficult than it is.

Although this can be eaten alone, it’s delicious served over rice. Sometimes, if I know I’m going to need rice during the week, I’ll cook a few cups of it and store it a plastic bag in the fridge. 

air fryer waffle fries with a side of ketchup

7. Air Fryer Waffle Fries

This is an easy way for your teenager to cook frozen waffle fries without having a greasy mess. You’ll also see a variety of toppings that can elevate them to meal-worthy status.

You can do the same thing with frozen French fries or Tater Tots. It’s easy, and the results are delicious!

Chicken salad in a bowl

8. Chicken Salad

One of my favorite things to make with a leftover rotisserie chicken is this delicious but super easy chicken salad.

This chicken salad is delicious between two slices of bread. But it’s also yummy on whole grain crackers.

Your teenager can also make it with canned chicken breast. This is something anyone with a busy schedule should keep in the pantry because it can be used in so many different recipes.

zucchini pizza bites on a platter

9. Zucchini Pizza Bites

Even teenagers who don’t care for vegetables will love these yummy zucchini pizza bites. He or she can use the standard pepperoni topping or add other favorite pizza toppings to make it even better.

They’re not only easy to make, but each bite packs a boatload of nutrition. And their taste buds will be very happy. After all, what teenager doesn’t like pizza?

pepperoni pretzel pizza bites

10. Pepperoni Pretzel Pizza Bites

Here’s another delicious pizza flavored recipe your teenager can easily make for dinner. Add a side of fresh fruit, and you have a meal.

These can be made in the oven or air fryer. If your teen uses the air fryer, leave instructions to set the temperature about 20˚ lower and the cooking time about 20 percent shorter.

basic chaffle with butter

11. Easy Basic Chaffle

If your teenager likes waffles, you can be certain he or she will love chaffles. Since they’re made without flour, even someone who is gluten intolerant can enjoy these. 

All you need are a few ingredients, a medium-size bowl, and a personal waffle maker. It’s so easy to make this your teenager will want to do it often—both for dinner and for breakfast.

bowl of sloppy joes spiral pasta

12. Skillet Sloppy Joes Pasta

If your teenager likes sloppy joes, he or she will love this dish. It’s an easy one-pan dinner that makes cooking dinner a breeze.

Any kind of pasta works fine. But it’s always more fun to have a variety of shapes to choose from.

Turkey sandwich with leftovers

13. Best Turkey Sandwich Ever

Any time you cook a turkey, you are likely to have leftovers for future meals or individual servings. So make it easy for your teenager to make one of these delicious sandwiches.

You can also purchase precooked turkey from many grocery store delis. Most will let you choose the thickness of each slice.

chicken and rice casserole with a side of broccoli

14. Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Your teenager will have a great sense of accomplishment after preparing this easy dinner. 

Whether your teen is making dinner for him or herself and friends or for the family, this will quickly become a favorite.

A teenage girl or boy can make this simple casserole that only has a few simple steps. This also helps your child develop some basic skills that will help for the rest of his or her life.

White chicken chili garnished with cilantro in a bowl on a plate with tortilla chips

15. Creamy White Chicken Chili

Who knew such a delicious chili recipe could be so easy to make? This yummy version of chili will make your teenager want to cook dinner more often.

Serve this with crackers or bread made from whole grains and a side of fresh fruit for a balanced meal.

barbecue pork chop on a plate with green beans

16. Barbecued Pork Chops

Most slow cooker recipes are perfect for teens who have time to wait for their meal to cook. 

All your teenager has to do is throw the ingredients into the Crock Pot, put the lid on, turn it on, and walk away for a few hours.

Serve tuna stuffed avocado with crackers at the family dinner.
Tuna-Stuffed Avocado

17. Stuffed Avocado

One of our light favorite meals around here is an avocado stuffed with tuna fish. It’s nutritious, so we don’t feel guilty. And it’s delicious, so we walk away from the table satisfied.

This easy main dish is good with tortilla chips, a favorite bread, or crackers.

bowl of homemade bean soup

18. Homemade Bean Soup

Making this homemade bean soup is as easy to do as opening a few cans of beans.

There are only a few ingredients in homemade bean soup, and you teenager won’t have any trouble making it.

Bowl filled with homemade vegetable soup with a spoon in it.

19. Homemade Vegetable Soup

If your teenager likes soup, show him how easy it is to make it with canned vegetables. With a few seasonings and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, he can make a yummy pot of soup that everyone will love.

Stock up on the shelf-stable pantry ingredients for those times when he needs to prepare a meal that’s both nutritious and delicious.

slice of frittata on a plate

20. Rice Cooker Frittata

This is my fool-proof way of making frittatas. So I know that most teenagers will be able to do it without any trouble.

Add some toast and fruit to the menu, and your teenager will learn how good breakfast food is when it’s served for dinner.

Tater Tot waffle pizza with pepperoni

21. Tater Tot Waffle Pizza

If you have a personal waffle maker, some tater tots, and a few other pizza making ingredients, your teenage has what she needs to make this fun and delicious treat.

Adding Tater Tots to any food takes it to a whole new level of goodness. If you don’t believe me, ask your teenager.

Easy Dinner Recipes

The best part about having easy dinner recipes for your teen to prepare is that you’re showing that the kitchen isn’t something to be feared. All of these are kid-friendly recipes that are sure to give your teenager a sense of accomplishment.

In fact, spending just a few minutes in the kitchen teaches your adolescent child that it’s not so difficult to make yummy meals.

There’s also nothing wrong with some of the super simple options like peanut butter and jelly. 

Or get some frozen chicken tenders or chicken nuggets that are easy to throw into an air fryer with a handful of waffle fries.

A simple meal with filling ingredients can take a lot of pressure off you as the parent too. On days when you’re too tired to cook, your child might even surprise you by fixing dinner for the family.

variety of easy dinner foods teenagers can make

Dinner Table Experience

Knowing how to prepare a few meals with simple ingredients can save your teenager from establishing a lifetime of grabbing fast food. All of these recipes are easy to make and delicious.

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