Whether you stop for some fast food, order takeout from the local Chinese restaurant or pizza joint, call GrubHub, or throw something from the freezer into the microwave – whatever you end up eating probably won’t be good for you.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are an enormous number of healthy dinner recipes you can easily make in 30 minutes or less, making them perfect for those weeknights when you don’t want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. And as a bonus, most require very little clean up when you’re done.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Sheet Pan Dinners
This ingenious way to prepare quick, healthy meals requires only a few minutes to cut up some ingredients and put them onto a sheet pan; the pan can then be thrown into the oven to cook for 20 minutes or so while you relax or take a shower.
These are terrific dinner ideas that can be made to be low-carb, and even better, you don’t need a recipe to make them.
Preheat the oven while you choose a healthy protein like fish, turkey or chicken breasts. Then take some veggies like zucchini, cauliflower or bell peppers, and add a healthy starch, such as sweet potatoes or butternut squash if you’d like. Cut them all up into cubes or small pieces, season them or let them soak for a few minutes in a prepared marinade (pesto or a mix of olive oil and vinegar works fine), and toss them all onto the sheet pan to bake.
When you come back 20 or 30 minutes later, you’ve got a yummy, healthy, low-carb meal ready to eat – and all you have to clean are your knife and the sheet pan. To save even more time you can purchase pre-marinated proteins and pre-cut vegetables beforehand, so they’re ready to go onto the pan and into the oven as soon as you get home.
There are endless combinations of ingredients you can use. You may even have enough left over for the next day’s lunch or a second meal later in the week. And if there’s extra room on your sheet pan you can cook some extra chicken (or whatever protein you use) to eat another night as the primary ingredient in a killer chicken salad.
The sheet pan technique is perfect for vegetarian or vegan meals as well, and can be adapted to nearly any type of meal; for example, use Tex-Mex seasoning and you’ve got the makings of some fabulous fajitas or lettuce wraps.
Stir-Fry and One-Pot Dinners
You can take a nearly identical approach and end up with a delicious Asian meal, as long as you don’t mind spending a few minutes stir-frying the ingredients (you may want to include some bean sprouts, water chestnuts or mushrooms). Don’t worry, you don’t need a wok – a frying pan will work almost as well. As an added bonus, you don’t have to marinate the ingredients but can simply add bottled or homemade sauce as you cook; a mix of soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar and sesame oil is perfect for a quick teriyaki sauce, for example.
Can’t imagine an Asian meal without rice? After frying the protein, add some chicken stock and dried instant brown rice to the pot and cook (covered) for ten minutes or so, then add your veggies. Poof! An easy one-pot rice bowl. How’s that for a tasty, easy dinner?
The same technique using shredded chicken or beef will let you make quick and healthy burritos, too.
Instant Pot Dinners
If you don’t own a slow cooker, it might be the best investment you can make to have quick, healthy dinners ready as soon as you get home. The meal prep is similar to what we’ve already described, but there are a wealth of healthy ingredients not suitable for stir-frying that you can throw into the cooker before you leave for work.
Think about meatballs made from ground turkey or lean beef, Pad Thai with rice noodles, garlic and lemon butter artichokes, sweet potato and black bean quinoa chili, Moroccan chickpea stew, or nearly any type of casserole you can imagine. The possibilities are endless, with an enormous supply of BBQ, pot roast, jambalaya, salmon recipes and many more available in your user’s guide or online.
And if you’re craving some Italian food, you can even make lasagna in an Instant Pot; just grate some parmesan on it and open the wine (or bottled water) when you get home. Buon Appetito!
There are some days when the temptation can be overwhelming to grab some Mexican takeout on the way home. Fight the urge; you can make great, healthy Mexican 30-minute meals at home.
The one-pot approach mentioned earlier works well for tasty chicken fajitas. Chop your veggies (or buy them pre-cut) and sauté for 7-8 minutes, then take them out and cook chicken strips that have been marinated in cilantro, garlic, chili powder and a few other spices (you can buy pre-cut proteins at the store, too) for another ten minutes. Heat them together and serve in whole-grain tortillas for a homemade meal better than you could get at Chipotle.
In the mood for tacos? Fish or shrimp tacos can be made in a flash, and are perfect healthy dinner ideas for weight loss. Marinate flaky white fish or shrimp in olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder and cayenne, cook it in a pan for a couple of minutes on each side until it has a slightly-crispy crust. Then put it into grilled tortillas with avocado and some slaw for a healthy, low-fat meal that will scratch your Mexican food itch. If you’re not a fish fan, chicken tacos are just as easy to make. Need healthy ideas for family meals? Just make enough food to fill two pots – job done.
Salads are tried-and-true quick, healthy dinners, but they don’t have to be boring or ordinary.
For example, Greek salads with tomatoes, olives, cucumber, onion and feta are great, but try adding some sun-dried tomatoes for extra tartness, or green beans, shelled edamame or couscous to make a crunchy Mediterranean salad.
You can just as easily change up traditional salads by substituting kale for lettuce, creating homemade balsamic vinaigrette with a unique twist by adding soy sauce, ginger, honey and sesame oil, or (if you’re not on a diet) going the British route by putting the salad and dressing atop grilled rustic bread, topping it with grated double Gloucester cheese and Worcestershire sauce, and melting the cheese before digging in.
There’s an Even Easier Way to Do It
That’s still too much work? You don’t even have time for a little prep work before dinner? Your kitchen abilities are limited to toast and pop tarts?
Never fear, there’s a terrific alternative.
Factor is a fully-prepared meal delivery service, which specializes in preparing and delivering fresh meals ready to pop into the oven or microwave for the quickest, healthiest dinners you can imagine. Expert dietitians and nutritionists design healthy recipes that gourmet chefs use to prepare Factor breakfasts, lunches and dinners, so every meal is nutritionally-optimized and absolutely delicious.
Each meal is gluten-free and prepared from fresh ingredients. The proteins are grass-fed and pastured, no antibiotics or hormones are used, and the meals are non-GMO and contain no refined sugars. In a nutshell, Factor has the healthiest and most nutritious meals available for delivery.
And since there’s no prep time required, you simply take your prepared, pre-portioned meal out of the fridge and heat it up in only a few minutes. Each week, you choose the meals to be delivered from an extensive online menu – and since the meal options change every week (unlike the menus from many other delivery services), you always have a new and varied series of dinners ready to eat when you get home.
Many of Factor’s meals are perfect for specialized diets like Paleo, keto, low-calorie and high-carb, so no matter what type of meal plan you may be following, there are plenty of tasty choices that can be delivered fresh, right to your door. And their team of expert dietitians are always happy to answer any questions you have! They even offer complimentary phone consultations for all new or prospective customers.
There are lots of healthy dinner recipes you can make in 30 minutes or less. Factor eliminates the “30 minutes or less” part of that equation, delivering yummy meals made from fresh ingredients that are ready for you to heat and eat as soon as you walk in the door.
To learn more about how Factor can help with your dinner plans, click here.