While dinnertime can often be the highlight of a week where you can momentarily stop thinking about work and spend a bit of time with friends or family, coming up with recipe ideas that are delicious, healthy, and quick isn't always easy. To help you out, we asked some great Registered Dieticians about easy and nutritious weeknight suggestions to make. Get started by bookmarking this page and scrolling below!
This is a “template” style meal that’s perfect for any ingredients in your kitchen that need to be used up before spoiling or hitting their expiration date. For example, we use a protein + 3 veggies + simple sauce formula and serve with jasmine or brown rice. Skirt/flank steak, chicken thighs/chicken breast, or shrimp can be paired with your favorite veggies. Rely on a pre-made sauce if you need to or serve with tofu for a plant-based option. Slicing everything into thin strips and cooking over high heat imparts delicious flavor, but also speeds up the cooking time so your complete meal is ready in less than 30 minutes. (Image & suggestion by Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD of Street Smart Nutrition)
Add chicken thighs, chopped onion, and a little barbecue sauce to a crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Once cooked, shred the chicken using two forks. Use the meat for the sliders on a whole wheat bun topped with pickled cucumbers and red onion, as tacos garnished with cabbage slaw, or on top of a salad or grain bowl filled with vegetables of your choice. It's hands-off, customizable meal packed with lean protein, plus, it makes for great leftovers throughout the week.
Grab a few of your favorite dips like hummus and tzatziki, then add some fresh and cooked vegetables, a bowl of nuts and olives, some cheese, and one or two prepared salads like a 3-bean salad, or tomatoes with mozzarella. Finish the platter with whole-grain crackers or pita, and you have a no-fuss, no-cook dinner that will please the whole family. This is a favorite for nights when you just don't feel like cooking and it's filled with nutritious and satisfying foods. (Suggested by Nicole German Morgan, RDN, LD, CLT, Author of The Nourished Thyroid; Image by Sarah Gold Nutrition)
What I love most about the recipe options I’ve suggested is that you can use ingredients that you may already have at home and cook up a balanced, complete meal in about 10 to 15 minutes. This pasta with veggies is one of my go-to complete vegan protein dinners that is also family-friendly. Most legume-based pastas are gluten-free and contain about 20 grams of protein per 1 cup cooked serving. Toss in some vegetables of choice and seasonings like garlic, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to make a meal in a pinch!
Purchase some frozen "cauliflower rice", which is minced pieces of cauliflower made to look like rice. Next, make a quick sauté of some of your favorite vegetables and proteins that you have on-hand. Sauté (in coconut or avocado oil) the thawed cauliflower rice, a handful of vegetables, and protein of choice such as chicken, ground turkey, or natural turkey sausage in a large pan. Serve in a bowl with your favorite spices such as chile powder, garlic powder, and cumin or turmeric! Check out The Nourished Thyroid for recipes like these two and many other favorites of mine. (Suggested by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Maternal Child Health Specialist at Crystal Karges Nutrition)
Flour or corn tortillas are a great delivery vehicle for flavorful and nourishing ingredients. Update your “breakfast for dinner” options to include breakfast tacos made with scrambled eggs, avocados, and roasted sweet potatoes or black beans. It’s easy to customize the fillings to fit your family’s preferences. Plus, minimal cooking involved means prep and clean up are a breeze. (Image & suggestion by Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN)
Sometimes, the easiest way to feed a crowd is by putting out a variety of appetizers to create a no-cook mini-meal. These are especially great during the summer months, where you might not want to be cooking in a hot kitchen. The possibilities for an antipasto platter are endless, and you can easily create an assortment of your favorite foods for your family to pick and choose what they love to eat. An example of food options you can include on an antipasto platter includes deli meats, crackers, sliced cheese, fresh veggies with dip, and fresh or dried fruits. Since no cooking is involved, clean up is a breeze! (Suggested by Jill Merkel MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Sports Performance & Wellness Dietitian; Image by Crystal Karges Nutrition)
I absolutely LOVE crockpot cooking. It’s an easy way to get dinner ready when you don't have a lot of time to prepare. Simply throw the ingredients in at the start of your day before heading off to work and come home to an appetizing meal that’s ready to be eaten! This chili recipe is delicious and nutritious, containing carbs, protein, fiber, and veggies, and you can top it with a source of fat such as avocado or cheese for a complete, well-balanced meal. (Image by SkinnyTaste)
Roasting a combination of your favorite veggies, potatoes, and a protein together on a sheet pan can be a quick way to get a balanced meal on the table in no time flat. Just take this Easy Italian Chicken Sausage one for example! You can use whatever ingredients that you have on hand and customize to your family’s liking. A tasty example combination for a sheet pan dinner could include chicken sausage, red potatoes, and mixed vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms. (Image by Crystal Karges Nutrition)
Quick, easy, and nutritious is the name of the game! I love this recipe because it’s so tasty and there is very little clean up involved. Salmon is a great source of protein and healthy fats, and baking it in foil results in a moist, juicy fish that is irresistible. I also love recipes like this that are easy to modify based on personal preference, for instance using a different sauce or flavoring if you don't love pesto, or using whichever vegetables you have on hand or might be craving. (Image by Cooking Classy)
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