10 One-Pot Back-to-School Dinners for Busy Parents

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The first week back to school can be a little rough. You’ve got to get the kids back to their regular sleep schedule, pack lunches, sign forms, and possibly deal with some big emotions (theirs and yours). Dinner should be an easy, comforting respite that gives you time to linger at the dinner table and listen to everyone’s days. Making that dinner should not take up too much time or dirty too many dishes (remember you have lunches to pack still!).

One-pot dinners are here to help make back-to-school time easier, tastier, and more comforting. Here are 10 of my favorites.

Don’t worry about making the meatballs for this one-pot dinner. Instead turn your favorite sausage into one-ingredient meatballs. Then spend the rest of dinner telling your kids how you used to eat a version of these O’s out of a can!

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This pasta dish is inspired by one of my favorite back-pocket dinners made from ingredients I always have on hand. If you don’t have orzo, any small quick-cooking pasta will work just as well.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you want to go one step above Annie’s mac and cheese, but still put in minimal effort, this recipe is for you. I like to throw a handful of frozen peas or broccoli in right at the end, which cools the pasta quickly and adds a vegetable to make this a complete meal.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Doesn’t this look elaborate? I pinkie promise its a super easy dinner that uses up those end-of-summer vegetables, tastes amazing, and might actually get your kids to try some new vegetables. No pinkie promises on the vegetables thing, though.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Yup, you can totally have a one-pot dinner on Taco Tuesday. You can use pretty much any ground meat you like and sub some the spices for your own taco seasoning to make this even faster and easier.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

My Southern husband grew up with a version of this that involved canned soup. This light and fresh take isn’t too spicy and can be loaded up with extra vegetables.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A bonus of this one-pot meal is that you could very easily turn it into burritos (not just bowls) and take it on the go. We love to wrap up any leftovers in tortillas and stick them in the freezer for future burrito dinners without doing takeout.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Chili-mac is my favorite culinary mash-up. Sweet and savory chili meets creamy mac and cheese in this one-pot dinner. This recipe makes a generous batch in case you have neighborhood kids who always seem to drop by right at dinnertime.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Sorry I saved the options without pasta or rice for the end. This taco soup is so perfect for rainy September nights, but fiery enough for late August too. Our kids really love this soup because they can easily scoop it up with their chips.

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(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

This honestly might be the coziest recipe on this list. Plus, you can skip chopping any vegetables and mixing up biscuits by using your favorite frozen vegetables and canned biscuits.

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