On busy nights, it pays to have a few easy dinner ideas up your sleeve. Here are my go-to strategies for getting a healthy dinner on the table in no time.
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Do you ever have nights when you just can’t seem to think of any easy dinner ideas? When you feel like you’ve rotated through all your standbys, and nothing sounds good? If you do, you’re in the right place.
Below, you’ll find over 50 healthy dinner ideas that are perfect for busy weeknights.
All of these dinner recipes are quick and easy to make, but still full of flavor. They’re ones we’ve enjoyed time and time again, even on nights when we’re tired, crunched for time, or not in the mood to cook.
But before we get to the recipes, I want to talk strategy. On busy nights, knowing a few simple methods for getting a quick and easy dinner on the table can really pay off.
Here are the 5 key strategies I turn to for making a healthy meal in no time:
- Make a fast and easy 30-minute recipe.
- Meal prep recipes that will keep well all week.
- Batch cook and freeze freezer-friendly recipes to reheat on busy nights.
- Prep components to have on hand to mix & match into flavorful meals.
- Make one of my standby no-recipe easy dinner ideas.
If you’re looking for some new easy dinner ideas, read more about these strategies below. Then, try one of our delicious healthy dinner recipes! Fingers crossed that it makes it into your regular weeknight rotation.
1. Make any of these 30-minute dinner recipes.
Nothing beats a good weeknight dinner recipe, one that comes together from start to finish in 30 minutes or less. These quick dinner ideas pack a punch of flavor despite their short cooking time and without any extensive meal prep. If you’re someone who enjoys cooking at the end of your day or who wants to eat something different each night of the week, this easy recipe strategy is a great one. I recommend choosing weeknight dinner recipes ahead of time, so you know you’ll have the ingredients on hand when you’re ready to cook. Here are some of my favorite quick dinner recipes:
2. Meal prep dinner recipes that will keep well all week.
Certain dinner recipes keep well in the fridge for a few days, and some, like most soups, even improve as their flavor develops. I love making a big batch of soup for the week ahead on a Sunday, and veggie patties keep and reheat well too. The same goes for meaty, saucy jackfruit – I like to make it ahead to stuff into tacos or sandwiches throughout the week!
3. Batch cook freezer-friendly dinner recipes ahead of time, and freeze them.
When you have a busy schedule, using your freezer is one of the best ways to prioritize eating healthily. Thawing a frozen slice of lasagna or big bowl of chili is cheaper and healthier than ordering takeout, and it’s just as good. When you cook a pot of soup or bake a lasagna, make a double batch, and freeze the leftovers in individual portions for quick healthy dinners on nights when you don’t have time, or you’re just not in the mood, to cook. Make sure to allow your food to cool to room temperature before covering it and freezing it in freezer-safe containers (I like these).
4. Prep components to inspire creative healthy dinner ideas!
I like to think of this strategy as “component cooking,” and it’s a great way to go if you don’t want to eat the same thing every night of the week. It’s also a great kid-friendly strategy. On Sunday, roast vegetables on a sheet pan and prep components from each of the categories below:
- Roasted or grilled vegetables like butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.
- A starch or grain. Pasta, tortillas, quinoa, farro, brown rice, cilantro lime rice, or even cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or roasted spaghetti squash work here.
- A protein like roasted chickpeas, black beans, baked tofu, tempeh, or lentils.
- A good sauce – Think tahini sauce, tzatziki, cilantro lime dressing, chipotle sauce, peanut sauce, pesto, cashew cream, or a scoop of hummus.
- Flavorful extras – Cheese, capers, nuts, avocado, roasted red peppers, pico de gallo, or pickled vegetables like kimchi, jalapeños, or onions add great flavor and texture!
Mix and match these components into a different dish each night! For example, if you make roasted cauliflower and chipotle sauce over the weekend, you can top them onto quinoa bowls on Monday and Tuesday, and then stuff them into tacos or lettuce wraps later in the week.
Example component recipes:
5. Learn how to come up with easy dinner ideas using what you have.
While I encourage you to try new healthy dinner ideas, it’s good to have a few no-recipe tricks up your sleeve. With a few tried-and-true quick dinner ideas, you can put together a yummy healthy dinner in as little as 15 minutes. Here are a few of my favorite no-recipe easy dinner ideas:
- Stuff leftover ingredients into quesadillas with avocado or guacamole and salsa.
- Toss pasta with sautéed or roasted veggies, cheese, and a squeeze of lemon.
- Use a leftover grain to make fried rice.
- Make a frittata with leftover roasted vegetables or any fresh vegetables in the fridge.
- Simmer a simple pot of many-veggie soup made with whatever veggies you have on hand.
- Make a classic grilled cheese, dressed up with green harissa or whatever sauce you have on hand.
- Tuck leftover noodles and veggies into fresh spring rolls.
- Bake a sweet potato and stuff it with a fun, flavorful veggie filling and quick sauce!
Do you have any go-to easy dinner ideas? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for more healthy recipes?
Check out these posts next:
rate this recipe:
4.91 from 41 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
This roasted vegetable pasta is one of our go-to weeknight easy dinner ideas!
- 4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces*
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon herbes de Provence
- Leaves from 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 16 ounces penne pasta
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup fresh basil, more for garnish
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Pinches of red pepper flakes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the carrots and onions on the first sheet and the zucchini and tomatoes on the other. Drizzle both sheets of vegetables with olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Place the sheet with the carrots and onions in the oven first and roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the onions are tender and lightly charred, and the carrots are tender and browned. Place the second sheet in and roast for 20 minutes, or until the squash and zucchini are golden brown around the edges, and the tomatoes are lightly bursting. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the sherry vinegar, garlic, herbes de Provence, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the roasted vegetables.
- Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Drain and transfer the warm pasta to the large bowl with the roasted vegetables and toss to coat.
- Add the feta, basil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes and gently toss. Season (generously!) to taste with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice, as desired.
- Garnish with more fresh basil and generous drizzles of olive oil.
*or equivalent amount of yellow squash or pattypan squash.