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.
Healthier, better-tasting meals are easier than you think with help from Yummly! Try it free now.
Quick Stir-Fried Ginger Chicken; 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, nourishing, 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, chickpeas, lentils, and tomatoes, chicken and vegetable broth, and quick-cooking brown rice, bulgur, and quinoa.
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 legumes, frozen shrimp, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and nut butters all make life easier.
Store-bought sauces. A stash of high-quality prepared sauces and marinades — think pesto, BBQ, teriyaki, Thai curry paste — helps me go from “What’s for dinner?” to “Wow, that was great!” in no time.
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 can put into rotation with little effort.
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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.
I’m always game for a burger, and this one manages to be both lean and nutritious and super-flavorful. The patties use ground turkey, feta, dried herbs, and other aromatics. Pan-fry them in a little olive oil and serve on toasted whole wheat English muffins. Need a side dish? Add crispy, Easy Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
Salmon makes an ideal weeknight option — it cooks quickly and thanks to all that healthy fat, it’s hard to ruin! Top it with a tomato relish with plenty of briny, tangy-sweet kick from olives, capers, and balsamic vinegar, and warm some crusty bread to soak up that yummy sauce.
I think of frittatas as a baked omelet with an Italian accent. They’re endlessly versatile — you can put almost any leftover vegetable, cooked protein, or cheese into the mix. This version features savory sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan cheese, all staples in my kitchen.
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. These recipes all fall under the heading, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner.”
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.
A few simple shortcuts — rotisserie chicken, canned beans, and jarred salsa verde — help get this hearty and nutritious chili on the table in less than half an hour. It tastes like it’s been simmering all day!
Whether you’ve got some ready-to-go grilled chicken or you’re picking up a rotisserie bird on the way home, it’s hard to find a faster dinner than this salad. Even though it’s super-easy, it’s still packed with flavor thanks to lime juice, cilantro, and creamy avocado. I like to add chopped cucumbers for crunch. And if you’re not worried about keeping things low carb, add some good crusty bread on the side.
Coating boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a quickie glaze made with jarred BBQ sauce, peach jam, and cayenne gives you a sweet-and-spicy dinner that tastes like it’s spent plenty of low-and-slow time in the smoker. Add cut-up broccoli to the sheet pan and you’ve got a full meal.
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. Serve them on zoodles (if you’re living low-carb) or your preferred whole-grain spaghetti with prepared tomato sauce.
My family isn’t vegetarian, but we eat vegetarian dinners three or four nights a week. These jam-packed burritos are full of interesting flavors and textures, from the crispy outer tortilla to the soft, not-too-spicy, cheesy filling. If I know we’re going to be really rushed, I’ll shave off a few minutes by using prepared guacamole.
Pita bread used to be my go-to for lightning-fast pizzas, but once my supermarket started carrying naan, I switched and never looked back. A little jarred sauce, some fresh mozzarella, and an Italian extra or two satisfy my pizza cravings with more nutrients and fewer calories than ordering in. And since each person gets their own, my kid can customize to his heart’s content.
The ingredients list looks long, but you’re doing almost no prep work — most of the items just need to be measured. A glorious mix of spices need only a few minutes of simmering time to pull together all the flavors. Set out the tortilla strips, shredded cheese, cilantro, and avocado like a salad bar and let everyone top their own bowls.
Easy, healthy recipes for the Crock Pot or Instant Pot
These one-pot recipes take more than 30 minutes total. But they only require a few minutes of attention at the beginning and end — for the rest of the cook time, they practically make themselves.
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. This, right here, is a bowlful of comfort food.
In my home, we don’t observe Taco Tuesdays. That’s because we’ll have tacos pretty much any day of the week. And when the filling is this easy, just four ingredients left to do their thing in the slow cooker, we’d be silly not to.
When I want a fast, healthy meal on the lighter side, I turn to quinoa. It’s a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, and it takes all of one minute in the Instant Pot (plus resting time; but still, it’s fast). Tossed with fresh or frozen corn kernels, halved grape tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a lively lime-based dressing, this vegetarian dinner is ready in just 20 minutes.
Just look at all those beautiful veggies! A brief spin in the IP is all it takes to turn carrots, celery, onion and garlic, canned tomatoes, zucchini, and baby spinach into a soup that eats like a meal, to quote the old commercials. Two kinds of canned beans plus pasta help you feel full for hours afterward. Don’t skip the grated Parm at the end, and definitely serve with bread for dunking.
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 on a single pan? It’s genius.
I wasn’t kidding when I said we eat tacos any night of the week. Here, well-seasoned tilapia fillets bake while you throw together a quick, citrusy slaw. The fish gets flaked and piled into corn tortillas, then topped with crunchy slaw. The last step is the best one: Take a bite and marvel at the amazing meal you threw together in 20 minutes.
For another easy dinner with a Mexican accent, toss shrimp, bell peppers, and onions with olive oil and a simple spice mix, spread on a sheet pan, and roast for just 12 minutes. Tuck the combo inside warm tortillas, over rice, or on a bed of greens. Want to make the prep even easier? Buy pre-cut veggies in the produce section of your supermarket.
Cranking up the oven to 500°F lets you make dinner really fast. The key is to cut the chicken and veggies on the smaller side, so the inside cooks fully before the outside can burn. I love how adding fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, and balsamic vinegar whisks me away to the Mediterranean.
As long as there’s tofu in the fridge, dinner is minutes away. Here, cubes soak up tons of flavor from a quick sauce, which also coats vegetables like broccoli and bell pepper. It all goes onto a sheet pan along with some roasted cashews, and comes out of the oven ready for rice and chopsticks.
Explore more easy dinner recipes
Our lives are often too busy to rely on the luck of the draw when you need quick 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.