Easy, Healthy Dinner Recipes in 30 Minutes
Looking for quick, healthy dinner recipes for the whole family? We've collected 20 tasty candidates for your Meal Plan.
Photograph by Olga Ivanova
I’ve maintained a substantial weight loss for more than 20 years. Don’t get me wrong — I definitely indulge. Over the years, I’ve learned that denying myself the foods I love will only make me resentful, and when I do finally eat them, I’ll go overboard. But most nights, I turn to easy, healthy, scrumptious recipes I can get on the table in no time. I pull it off with the help of a few tricks:
Nutritious pantry staples. My shelves always have items like canned beans and tomatoes, chicken and vegetable broth, quick-cooking brown rice and quinoa, and a handful of high-quality prepared sauces.
A well-stocked spice rack. Spices may not offer a lot in the way of nutrients, but they add tons of flavor without calories.
Pre-chopped vegetables. Whether I pull them from my freezer or pick them up at the grocery store, not having to peel and chop saves me precious minutes.
Ready-to-go proteins. Rotisserie chicken, canned tuna and beans, frozen shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, and nut butters all make life easier.
The right tools. I don’t know what I’d do without my sheet pans, slow cooker, and Instant Pot.
Another hack for staying on a wholesome path: having quick, reliable, healthy recipes ready to go. Read on for a collection of 20 meals you could put into rotation with little effort.
Jump ahead to:
Hit “plus” on any Yummly recipe to add it to your Meal Plan.
Easy, healthy meals under 500 calories
I don’t count calories on a regular basis, but when I’ve overdone it the day before (or, heck, at lunchtime), I aim for an easy dinner that comes in under 500 calories. On busy weeknights, getting it done quickly is key, too. Each of these options fits the bill.
This looks far too sophisticated for an easy weeknight dinner, doesn’t it? And yet, it’s ready in just half an hour. Cutting a head of cauliflower into thick “steaks” is a great trick, as is seasoning them with za’atar, the zesty Middle Eastern blend of dried herbs and spices. The piquant bean salad is a great accompaniment.
Nutritious, low-fat crumbled tofu cooks up beautifully crispy and stands in for the ground pork you’d usually find in Chinese Dan Dan noodles. This vegetarian version gets tons of spicy flavor from sriracha, soy sauce, honey, and tahini, and it all comes together in just 15 minutes.
You don’t have to give up red meat to eat healthy — you just need to choose the leanest cuts. And lean ground beef is ideal for a weeknight dinner because it cooks quickly. While I never have trouble finding easy, healthy recipes with ground beef, this fast Korean Bulgogi is one of my favorite ways to use it. I can’t get enough of that garlicky, salty-sweet sauce and plenty of crunchy vegetables. Serve it with quick-cooking brown rice for an extra hit of whole-grain fiber.
To get food on the table fast, I often opt for a semi-homemade meal, which involves turning a handful of good-for-you prepared ingredients into dinner, PDQ. Here, store-bought naan, pesto, and rotisserie chicken meet chopped tomato and shredded mozzarella. It all becomes pizza in minutes.
Easy, healthy chicken recipes
I usually start with a chicken recipe when I’m looking for a healthy weeknight meal to please my whole family. On weekends, I’ll often grill up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts as part of my meal prep — having that ready to go has saved me from takeout more than a few times.
Transform rotisserie chicken (or grilled chicken, if you’ve got it) into a lively, hearty dinner salad by adding canned chickpeas, roasted red peppers, salty olives, crumbled feta, and crunchy raw vegetables. Toss it with a dressing made with olive oil and some dried oregano.
By definition, a stir-fry is a quick dinner. Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts with plenty of fresh ginger and vegetables like carrots and green beans — and you’ve got a zingy, delicious meal. It’s almost as easy as ordering in.
Puree frozen butternut squash with chicken broth and enchilada sauce, then add chopped grilled chicken, canned corn, and a few other ingredients. The creamy, satisfying, nutrient-packed soup will taste like an indulgent plate of enchiladas.
I'd never have imagined a pressure cooker could deliver pad Thai with all the flavors of my favorite takeout — but this recipe does just that. The noodles steam right along with the chicken, and the whole process kind of feels like magic.
Easy, healthy dinner recipes for families
Healthy dinner ideas aren’t that hard to find. Healthy dinner ideas kids will appreciate, on the other hand, can seem nearly impossible. That’s where these recipes come in.
These easy meatballs use Parmesan cheese and almond flour instead of breadcrumbs, so they’re grain- and gluten-free, of course. Serve them on zoodles or your preferred whole-grain spaghetti with prepared tomato sauce.
My kid is among the pickiest eaters on the planet — seriously, I’d put him up against anyone — but he’ll go for these easy, crunchy chicken tenders. I like to serve them with honey mustard for dipping and a big salad (which I know he'll turn down, but I pick my battles).
Swapping finely chopped mushrooms for part of the ground beef helps make these burgers nutritious enough, so I don’t think twice about piling on the toppings. And while those umami-packed ‘shrooms add moistness and texture, they don’t really change the flavor. I like mine with BBQ sauce and grilled onions.
What kid doesn’t like tacos? With spices like chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano, nobody will realize you’ve used lean ground turkey in place of beef. Set out the filling, tortillas, and toppings salad bar-style and let everyone assemble their own.
Easy, healthy recipes for the Crock Pot
Obviously, these recipes take more than 30 minutes total. But they require only a few minutes of attention at the beginning and end — and what’s more convenient than stepping into the kitchen for a ready-to-eat, healthy dinner?
To make this hearty chili, you just need to combine salsa, canned beans, spices, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Shred the chicken after it’s done and serve with all the fixings. I’m partial to chopped scallions and grated cheddar for a bit of cheesy deliciousness.
When you add a ham hock to dried beans in the slow cooker, you infuse the whole dish with smokiness without a lot of fatty meat. For another layer of flavor, spend a few minutes sauteing the vegetables before they go into the pot — you’ll still be out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes.
I love a good bowl of black beans and rice — it’s one of my favorite vegetarian dinners. And when I make them in the slow cooker, it takes virtually no effort at all. Dried beans, some veggies, spices, and vegetable broth form the base of this recipe, with chipotles in adobo adding smoky depth. Spend 15 minutes getting it into the slow cooker and walk away.
Picadillo is Cuban comfort food made with lean ground beef, tomatoes, green olives, bell peppers, fresh cilantro, and spices. This skinny version spends hours in the slow cooker, a great way to deepen the flavors and let them meld. All you need is some brown rice or quinoa — and dinner is served.
Quick & healthy sheet pan dinners
When it comes to getting a complete, healthy meal on the table in a hurry, nine times out of 10, I grab a sheet pan. Cooking everything at once, with just one pan to clean? It’s genius.
Using smoked turkey sausage instead of pork saves on calories and saturated fat, and pairing it with veggies like sweet potatoes, broccoli, and bell pepper makes it filling. Garlic and other Italian seasonings lend a flavor boost, and it’s all ready in around 20 minutes.
It’s a snap to find easy, healthy recipes with shrimp because they cook so fast. With a sheet pan, these nutritious tacos are minutes away. Toss and roast a variety of chopped vegetables with Mexican-inspired spices. Add seasoned shrimp a few minutes later. Serve in warm tortillas with tomatoes and jalapeño. Done.
Make your seafood Asian-style with this salmon recipe. Marinating the fillets in a quick homemade teriyaki sauce takes just 15 minutes. Roast them alongside a variety of teriyaki-brushed vegetables, and another 15 minutes later, dinner’s ready.
Mediterranean flavors make this simple, low-carb combination of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or chicken thighs) and chopped vegetables like zucchini and broccoli taste as if it took much more time and effort than it really did. I’ll never tell — will you?
Explore more easy healthy dinner recipes
Our lives are often too busy to rely on the luck of the draw when it's time to be quick on the draw with dinner ideas. Whether you're looking to expand your rotating dinner menu or to draw up a Meal Plan, these next articles offer a variety of options and a wealth of helpful information to draw on.