One of bright spots of 2020 is that I have discovered so many amazing new recipes for my family, stemming mainly from my newfound love for meal planning. Yes, meal planning! Who would have thought?

Pre-Covid, I really was more of a wing-it-at-the-grocery-store kind of cook. Since March, I have developed a healthy relationship with my AnyList app. (Speaking of which, did you know you can make your life so much easier and connect your AnyList app with your Alexa?) And now, I set aside time each week to plan meals for the week ahead — and writing lots of the Cool Mom Eats weekly meal plans gives me a chance to try them all out.

Meal planning has saved both my pocketbook and my sanity. While I never really did master sourdough starters (or any other type of bread), I do think I have mastered meal planning. And that my friends, is a win.

So to round out the year, I thought I would share my family’s favorite recipes that I have discovered on my meal planning journey in 2020. These are the recipes my hungry kids ask for over and over, so I though your own brood might enjoy them too.

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My favorite family recipes of the year that we’ll be making over and over. 

These are the favorite recipes we discovered this year for family dinners...and we'll be making again next year! | Cool Mom Eats

When I wrote down my favorite recipes, they all clearly feel into one of three categories:

-Meals to eat with your hands

-Twists on old favorites

-Those tried-and-true comfort foods that just make you feel good when you need it most. 

With that…enjoy!

1. The meals we ate with our hands

I think the only thing that’s exhausted parents more than prepping meals is washing up afterwards. These meal ideas are not only delicious, but they help in both departments!

The best new family recipes I discovered in 2020: Charcuterie boards and snack trays make the list

Photo by Sarah Gualtieri on Unsplash

– The Philly Cheesesteaks from Butter Be Ready were by far the most requested by my husband this summer.

– My 16 year old son’s most requested re-make was for Bacon Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes from Sabrina at Dinner Then Dessert.

– Pizza is and always will be a fan favorite and this year I discovered two great pizza recipes that have made it into my meal planning rotation first, there’s the Southern BBQ Pizza with Pulled Pork from Spicy Southern Kitchen, which made me a believer that you really only ever need to use bbq sauce as a pizza base.

– For pizza recipe number 2, I have to share these Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Bake from the Real Food RD. They prove that your kids will eat quinoa. Especially when they think it is a pizza.

–  Personally, I was pretty stoked with arguably The 2020 food trend, Charcuterie Boards. Or as I call them, Charcuterie Boards for Dinner. These and their lighter cousin, Snack Trays, have changed my life and I bet they change yours too.


2. Recipes that were a twist on the same-old

Like so many of you, I tried to get a bit creative with my “go-to” recipes this year, because cooking and cleaning up three meals a day every day (not to mention loading 800 cups in to the dishwasher every evening) caused some serious burnout in the kitchen. And that’s with help from my family.  So I loved these new-to-me family recipes that helped us change things up without entirely changing up all our spices and pantry staples.

California Sushi Roll Bowls from cooking Classy: One of my family's favorite new recipes of the year
California Sushi Roll Bowls from Cooking Classy

– Hands down, my family’s favorite new dinner recipe is a twist on take-out sushi that I discovered this summer, California Sushi Roll Bowls. Our own Christina shared this recipe in our Recipe Rescue Facebook Community — which you should totally be a part of, ahem — back in July and I since then, I’ve made it at least twice a month.

– The Mexican Street Corn Summer Pasta Salad by Dianne Morrisey is a recipe I shared in June, when the last thing I wanted to do was be in the kitchen. It’s exquisite.

– In the same vein, I discovered Carnitas Tamale Pie from Pinch of Yum, which is also that type of family dinner recipes you dream about — and you don’t feel a drop of shame waking up and rushing to the fridge to devour the leftovers for breakfast. At least if there are any.

Crispy Fried Tofu Sandwiches are another winner that I discovered on our Recipe Rescue group. No one even realized it was tofu until the third time I made it. Bonus: It uses pickle juice as the tofu marinade, which is such a great opportunity to make the most of literally everything in your fridge, and eliminate food waste.

3. Tried and true comfort meals

Comfort meals were in high demand this year, and here are the four new recipes that topped our list. We’ll definitely be cooking (and inhaling) all of these well into the next year, because can you ever get enough of comfort foods? That’s a no.

Weekly meal plan: Chicken Pot Pie at Garden in the Kitchen

Chicken Pot Pie from Garden in the Kitchen

– This Skillet Chicken Pot Pie from Garden in the Kitchen is one I discovered looking for soul-warming comfort foods to take us from summer into fall and winter. It did the trick…and keeps doing the trick in my kitchen all the time, now.

Taco-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Love & Olive Oil were not a new recipe to me this year, but one that I hadn’t cooked up in a while. I love them so much, I had to include them here.

– This recipe for Ham & Cheese Pasta, or Schinkennudeln from What’s Gaby Cooking is another comfort food that made it back into our rotation this year and it’s here to stay. My son calls it his “very favorite dinner in the whole world” and I can’t really blame him.

– Our editor Kate unearthed a recipe for this Ramen with Miso Roasted Pumpkin from Anna at Serving Dumplings in November and not only did my family devour it, it’s inspired me to seek out even more food bloggers from different cultures and backgrounds who can shake up my meal planning with authentic flavors from around the world.

Speaking of which, be sure you keep following our weekly meal plans for inspiration every Friday. You can even subscribe to have them delivered right to your inbox, just once a week.


I really do put the meal plans together based on recipes I am actually cooking for my family, and with you in mind.  If you have suggestions, tips, recommendations or just want to say hi, please comment here, or shoot me a message in our Recipe Rescue group on Facebook.

Thanks so much for following our meal plans this year and for continuing to support our small place in the food world! I have big meal plans for next year…haha, not really. I mostly plan on keeping everyone’s belly full and teaching them to load the dishwasher without me asking them more than three times. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2021. – Lisa