Dine and Dash: 30-Minute Healthy Dinner Ideas
When busy weeknights get stressful, the last thing you want to do is cook a long and intricate meal. Instead, focus on fresh and simple foods that don’t take 100 steps.
It might sound hard to believe, but you can make a delicious, homemade meal in less than 30 minutes with the recipes below. They’re not only fast, but also healthy, and there are a range of choices for picky eaters.
Sheet Pan Veggies and Chicken
One of the best parts about a sheet pan meal is that it’s easy to make and clean up. With 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes to cook, you’ll be enjoying dinner 30 minutes after you walk through the door.
To make a sheet pan veggie and chicken meal, choose your desired vegetables along with 2 to 4 chicken breasts. Chop veggies and throw them in a pan with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Season the chicken the same way and let the oven work its magic.
Shrimp scampi is one of the easiest meals to make. You first cook the spaghetti — or even zucchini noodles — in boiling water. While that’s going, you can toss some shrimp in olive oil, butter or a butter alternative and fry them for a couple minutes.
To season, add oregano, salt, pepper and some garlic to the shrimp. Cut a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top before you dive in. If you’d like to avoid butter and olive oil, you can also use a vegetable or chicken broth to cook the shrimp.
Quesadillas are a very family-friendly dinner. Not only are they quick, but they’re also usually a hit with little ones as well. Using a corn or flour tortilla of your choice, add a little olive oil to a pan and then the tortilla.
You can then add whatever vegetables you like: corn, peppers, onion or even potatoes for a more filling take on this classic. You can also customize them for picky eaters by replacing different veggies. Make plain cheese for the kids or try salsa on the side.
Fajitas are a quick crowd-pleaser. You can choose a protein such as steak or chicken and add veggies for extra flavor. One of the nice things about fajitas is that you can cook everything in one pan on the stove.
You can use peppers, onions and a protein to whip up a tasty meal in no time. To season, add olive oil, salt, pepper and lime juice. To add some spice, you can also use chili powder or jalapeno peppers. Add salsa, cheese, tomatoes, avocado or hot sauce on top to complete the meal.
Lettuce Bun Burger
If you’re trying to cut carbs, consider trying a burger without the bun. You can enjoy it cooked on the grill or stovetop in under ten minutes. Instead of a bun, eat your burger with lettuce. To cook it, season with salt and pepper and then grill it or cook it on the stovetop.
Add cheese, tomato, avocado, mushrooms, onion or turkey bacon as desired. Ketchup, mustard or BBQ sauce finish it off. Serve your burger with sweet potato fries or veggies as side dishes.
Salmon With Salad
Salmon is a great choice for busy nights. Not only is it full of healthy fats, but it’s also ready to eat in under 10 minutes. You can cook salmon on the grill outdoors, on the stove or in an oven depending on preference.
Add a little butter or stock to your salmon and sauté it with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add rosemary or garlic and let it cook skin side down for 5 to 10 minutes depending on how you’re cooking it. Add a side salad of lettuce or spinach with tomatoes and avocado to round things out.
If you’re a vegetable lover, a pizza with grilled vegetables is a quick weeknight meal that you can feel good about. The best part about making your own pizza is that you can add as many vegetables as you like while also customizing your own crust, cheese and sauce options.
If you’re watching your carbs, you can use a cauliflower crust, for example. If you’re vegan, do a pizza without cheese or use a cheese alternative. Veggie ideas include green peppers, red peppers, onion, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, banana peppers, olives and spinach.
A Buddha bowl is essentially a grain of your choice mixed with fresh vegetables and a salad. You can use rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice with potatoes, sweet potato, peppers, avocado, carrots or really any of your favorite vegetables.
If you meal prep your veggies or grain ahead of time, throwing everything in a bowl can take only minutes. If not, cooking your grain on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker while you chop veggies won’t take longer than 30 minutes. Add salsa or a dressing of your choice for extra flavor.
Pasta is almost always a hit with adults and kids alike. Not only does it boil in less than 10 minutes, but it’s also extremely versatile. You can choose from penne, spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccini or more exotic noodles depending on your preferences and the sauce used.
To boost the nutritional value, mix in spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh basil, zucchini, garlic or broccoli. Riced cauliflower is one that you may even be able to sneak in if your kids are picky eaters. Serve your veggie pasta with a red sauce, alfredo or a quick olive oil and garlic mixture.
While you may not think you can make chili in less than 30 minutes, you can with a little prep work. On the weekend, for example, you can make a chili that can last an entire week. When you get home from work, you can easily heat it up.
Chili can also be made healthier by skipping the ground beef and loading it up with veggies. If there’s no meat involved, a veggie chili set on high in a crock pot or on the stove can cook in less than 30 minutes.
Veggie Rice Bowl
Veggies and rice go together like peanut butter and jelly. To make a delicious vegetable rice bowl, choose any vegetables you like and prepare them on a sheet pan in the oven or on the stove. You can roast, boil or fry up any veggies you prefer.
While your veggies are cooking, the rice can be heating up on the stove, in a rice cooker or in a pressure cooker. When everything is done, toss it all together and add sauce, a fried egg, or just a little olive oil and seasoning.
Quiche is something you can prep ahead of time or cook up easily after work. Using a premade crust, you can scramble up some eggs with cheese and veggies of your choosing.
Bake the quiche for about 20 minutes, and you have an easy weeknight meal. You can serve it with a side salad made with lettuce or spinach. Quiche mix-ins include spinach, tomatoes, cheese, ham, bacon, broccoli or avocado. This meal can also be made kid-friendly with just some bacon and cheese.
Because salmon cooks so quickly, it can be a go-to weeknight meal. Salmon in barbeque sauce is a delicious and healthy alternative to BBQ pork. You can cook BBQ salmon in the oven, on the grill or even on the stove.
Some great side options for BBQ salmon include lettuce for a wrap, pineapple, crispy potatoes with lemon or a side salad. Green beans, broccoli, or brussel sprouts also pair well with a golden barbeque salmon dinner. Cut a little lime wedge for the side and season the meal with garlic, salt and pepper.
Stir fry is an easy weeknight dinner that you can keep changing for variety. With different vegetable options as well as proteins, you can make a different stir fry every night of the week if necessary. Start by cooking some rice in a rice cooker or on the stove.
Choose your vegetables and protein and fry them together in a skillet with the rice once it’s cooked. Mix all your ingredients with olive oil in the pan until it has a nice char. You can add low sodium soy sauce, fish oil or coconut oil for flavor.
Quinoa and Kale Salad
For a crunchy salad with a twist, try a quick and easy kale salad with quinoa. Cook your quinoa on the stove as directed. While your quinoa cooks, chop some kale with lemon, avocado and tomato. When it’s finished, mix everything together in a bowl except the lemon.
Squeeze lemon juice on top of the salad and add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste. In addition to tomatoes and avocado, you can also use blue cheese, bacon or hot sauce. Shredded carrots and peas are nice additions as well.
Greek pitas make for a fresh and quick meal whenever you’re in a hurry. You can make a vegetarian Greek pita or go with a protein like chicken, lamb or steak. If you’re using a protein, you can char it on the grill or cook it on the stove.
Cook your protein with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon. For the rest of the pita, add tomato, red onion and feta cheese. Warm the pita and assemble everything together. Sprinkle some lettuce on top and enjoy.
Chicken Caesar Wrap
To make a chicken Caesar wrap, choose a lean chicken breast and cook it in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Takea flour, wheat or veggie wrap and bake it in the oven for a minute to warm it.
Grab some Caesar dressing and toss a little lettuce, tomato and parmesan cheese together in a bowl. Add croutons if you’d like and your chicken breast when it’s out of the oven. Once everything is mixed, you can add it to your wrap and enjoy.
Breakfast for Dinner
Breakfast for dinner is always a fun idea. Some easy ideas for such a meal include scrambled eggs with toast, pancakes, French toast, or egg whites with vegetables. Add yogurt for a sweet dessert.
You can also make omelets using egg whites and as many vegetables as you’d like. Some great mix-ins for an omelet include asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, cheese, ham, bacon and spinach. You can even use an egg substitute and make it without dairy if you prefer as.
Tacos don’t just have to be for Tuesdays. One of the best things about tacos is that they are fast and also customizable for any picky eaters in your home. You can add a protein such as chicken, pork, steak, ground beef or even tofu.
While you cook the protein on a skillet, stir in a quick mixture of spices to taste or a packet of taco seasoning from the store. Add in peppers, onions, corn, sweet potato or even pineapple for tacos with a punch. Add salsa or hot sauce to take things up a notch.
Using a pack of corn tortillas and a few potatoes, you can whip up a fast dinner any day of the week. Start by cooking your potatoes in a skillet or in the oven with some olive oil, lime, chili powder, salt, pepper and hot sauce.
While your potatoes are cooking, add some olive oil to the tortillas and warm them in a skillet. Once everything is cooked, add your potatoes to the tortillas and roll them up tightly. Bake them in the oven for a few minutes and you’re done.
Avocado toast doesn’t have to just be for lunch. You can make a fresh and healthy avocado toast for dinner in just a few minutes. Start with a nice loaf of bread, an avocado, tomato and an egg if you’d like.
Toast the bread, cook the egg and cut your avocado and tomato. Mash the avocado with a fork and sprinkle salt and pepper to the top before adding a fresh squeeze of lemon. Add the tomato, egg and either some hot sauce or a little drizzle of olive oil at the end.
While making a meat pizza isn’t as easy as a purely vegetarian one, it can be done with a little prep work or minor cheating. Pre-sliced pepperoni, for instance, makes it a much faster task. From there, you can either fry separately or bake it with the rest of the pizza.
Start with a white, whole wheat or cauliflower crust. Add tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and the vegetables of your choice. Great toppings include peppers, onions, pineapple, spinach or mushrooms. You can also sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top. Either cook the protein separately or add it alongside the veggies.
Gnocchi With Vegetables
Gnocchi makes the average pasta night just a little fancier. You can buy gnocchi in the frozen foods section or anywhere fresh pasta is sold. The best thing about the dish is that it only takes a couple of minutes to cook.
While your gnocchi boils, cut some tomatoes and spinach. Mix together the gnocchi with the vegetables and a little garlic and olive oil. Top it off with parmesan cheese. You can also use a vodka or red sauce for a fancier dinner.
Veggie burgers make for a healthier weeknight dinner that can be ready in about 20 minutes. You can buy a fresh veggie patty at the grocery store or grab a box of frozen ones. Follow the directions on the box to cook your patties or throw them on the grill.
Serve your veggie burgers with cheese, tomato, avocado and ketchup if you like. You can also add lettuce, onions or mushrooms as well. You can serve your burger on a bun or lettuce wrap. Serve with a side salad or sweet potato fries.
Grilled Veggie Salad
For a salad with a twist, try grilling some vegetables instead of just adding them cold. If you cook too much, you can also bring this salad to work the next day. Choose any vegetables you’d like along with your choice of lettuce and dressing.
Some great veggie options include mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and avocado. While the veggies you’d like to grill sauté in a pan, chop anything that is cold and toss it in with your dressing. Add in your warm veggies and enjoy.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
For a salad on the sweeter side, go with a spinach and strawberry salad. You can chop strawberries, spinach, shredded carrots, and avocado. Add in some blue cheese and walnuts and you have a hearty salad that will sustain you for dinner.
You can buy a vinaigrette dressing at the grocery store or make your own. If you need a little something else on the side, you can add a wrap or serve it with a small side of bread. You can also add grilled chicken for a protein boost.
Turkey Sausage With Peppers
For a healthier take on sausage and peppers, try to cook with turkey sausage in a pan or on a grill. To make this one-pan wonder, grab a few turkey sausages, one onion and red and green peppers. Season your sausages and veggies with some olive oil with salt and pepper.
Add all of your ingredients to a pan and roast everything together in the oven on one sheet or on the grill. Once it’s done, you can eat them alone or on a whole wheat bun. You can also add a little red sauce or mustard to your sandwich.
BBQ Shredded Chicken
You can make BBQ shredded chicken and use it in a couple different recipes throughout the week. You can make it on a weekend in a crock pot or in a pressure cooker or cook it on the stove for a quick weeknight meal.
Cook your chicken breasts as desired. Grab a bottle of BBQ sauce from the store and mix in as much as you like. Once everything is cooled, shred your chicken and enjoy as you wish. You can use this on a sandwich, in a taco or on a salad.
Steak With Cauliflower Rice
For a healthier take on steak and rice, go with cauliflower rice for a little added nutrition boost. Prepare your cauliflower rice as directed if you bought it frozen from the store. As your rice cooks, you can prepare your steak in a skillet or on the grill.
Once everything is cooked, you can make a sauce using a sprinkle of olive oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir everything together and add some vegetables if you wish. Green beans, peas or mushrooms make good mix-ins for rice and steak.
If you want to enjoy a pizza without the cheese, a flatbread might just do the trick. You can buy flatbread right from the grocery store and top it with as many vegetables as you’d like. To hold everything together, use some pesto, red sauce or olive oil.
Great vegetable flatbread options include potatoes, broccoli, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and spinach. Sprinkle your favorite seasonings on top, including salt, pepper, hot sauce or garlic. Bake the flatbread in the oven and it will be ready in 10 minutes.