15 Healthy Dinner Ideas For The Family Prepared In Under 18 Minutes

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Last Updated: 4th October 2016

ARRRGGGGH!!! So much to do, and so little time to do it!

Picture this: It's been a long day at work, and you're glad to be finally home. Somehow, you've managed to fit in a workout, gobble a healthy lunch, pick up your kids from school and afternoon activities, and now you're staring at a messy house and an empty table.

You've already ordered takeout too many times this week. You need to eat healthy, which means cooking. And guess who gets to do the cooking?

Sound familiar? We all lead busy lives, filled with an endless number of important chores, errands, work assignments, and activities.

As much as we'd love to spend hours preparing a gourmet dinner for our families, we just don't have the time.

Truth be told, there's never enough time in the day for all the things we want to get to, and our meals often end up taking a hit.

But that doesn't have to be the case! You can still put delicious meals on the table for your family without spending too much time in the kitchen.

Below, we've gathered a few healthy dinner ideas you can prepare for your family in a surprisingly short amount of time: just 18 minutes. That's not too hard to set aside, right?

Between all the homework, cleaning, and daily chores, you'll find it's surprisingly easy to sneak in the time for a quick, delicious meal. Try these recipes, and your life will never be the same:

Greek Tacos


Greek Tacos

Think Greek gyros meets Tex-Mex tacos. This is a meal I like to whip together on days when I just don't have a lot of time to cook. It's quick and easy, and my kids love the exotic flavors.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 pound of chicken or steak (your choice)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • Unsweetened Greek or regular yogurt
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon
  • Flour tortillas

Preparation

  • Cut ¾ of the onion into long, thin strips and toss them in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil. Dice the rest of the onion, and put it in a bowl to the side. As the onions are frying, slice the meat into thin bite-sized strips. Put the meat in the pan, and add in cumin, Garam Masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste. Cover with a lid and cook on low heat.
  • As the meat is cooking, peel the cucumber and run it through a cheese grater. Place the grated cucumber into a strainer to let the juices drip out. Once it stops dripping, place the cucumber into a bowl and add in yogurt, dill, salt, pepper, lemon, and paprika to make a tzatziki-like sauce.
  • Dice the tomatoes and cilantro, mix with the diced onions, and add lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Heat up the flour tortillas. Once hot, fill with the meat mixture, top with the onion-tomato garnish, and add the tzatziki. Enjoy!

Stir Fry


Stir Fry

What makes stir fry such a great meal? It's simple, quick, and easy! You can throw pretty much anything into the wok or pan as you cook, and it will be as healthy as it is delicious. The following recipe is one I like to use to get my kids to eat more veggies…

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 pound of steak
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • ¼ head of cabbage
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce

Preparation

  • Slice the onion into thin strips, and throw them into a wok with a bit of sesame oil. As the onions are frying, slice the bell pepper and carrot to add into the wok. Cut the meat next, and pour in a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce to add flavor.
  • Take a knuckle-sized piece of fresh ginger, peel and grate it, and add it to the wok. Cut the zucchini into thin slices and fry, and finish with the cabbage. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top to make it looks as delicious as it tastes.
  • Serve with reheated leftover rice.

Chicken Fajitas


Chicken Fajitas

This classic Mexican dish is an ideal meal to prepare if you are in a hurry or are short on time. It's quick, easy, and healthy. Best of all, you hardly need any ingredients or spices!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 pound of chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 onions
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ½ head of lettuce
  • Lemon

Preparation

  • Slice one onion and the bell pepper into thin strips, and saute in a frying pan. As the veggies are cooking, cut the chicken into thin strips and add to the frying pan as soon as it is cut. Add salt, pepper, cumin, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and either paprika, cayenne pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes.
  • As the chicken is cooking, dice the remaining half onion, the tomatoes, and the jalapeno pepper. Add salt, lemon, and pepper to taste. Shred the lettuce into thin strips.
  • Serve with flour tortillas, homemade re-fried beans, and sour cream!

Quick Shake And Bake With Potato Wedges


Shake and Bake Chicken

Shake and Bake makes one heck of a wicked fried chicken, but using the oven rather than the deep-fryer. You'll spend about 15 minutes doing the prep work, and the meal will take less than an hour to cook--no supervision needed!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • Chicken drumsticks (1 or 2 per person)
  • 2 eggs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • White flour
  • 5 to 8 potatoes
  • Spices: garlic powder, black pepper, crushed red pepper, salt

Preparation

  • To begin, Pat the drumsticks dry with a paper towel. Roll the mostly-dried drumsticks in white flour. Crack the egg and beat it with a bit of salt. Dip the chicken drumsticks into the egg mixture.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs with the spices of your choice, and roll the now-egged drumsticks in the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking tray, spread the chicken drumsticks out, and place in the oven. Cooking time will be roughly 30 to 40 minutes on high heat.
  • Slice the potatoes into wedges and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder. Place on a separate tray and cook along with the chicken.
  • Serve with a salad or raw veggies of your choice.

Oriental Ramen Noodles


Oriental Chicken Ramen

If your weekends are half as busy as mine, you know how wonderful it can be to have these instant noodles on hand. But they're really not the healthiest option. Looking for a way to turn instant ramen noodles into something a bit healthier? Try this awesome recipe out:

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2 packs of instant noodles per 3 people
  • ½ pound of chicken breast
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • A cup of spinach
  • Ketchup
  • Soy sauce
  • White vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  • Set the water to boil for the instant noodles.
  • As the water is heating up, slice the vegetables into thin strips, along with the chicken breast. In a wok, cook the onions first, followed by the bell peppers, carrots, chicken, zucchini, and finally spinach at the end.
  • During the cooking process, take a minute to mix two tablespoons of ketchup with three tablespoons of soy sauce and two tablespoons of white vinegar (my own version of Japanese "yakisoba" sauce).
  • Once the water boils, cook the ramen noodles, drain, and add to the wok. Stir fry the noodles with the chicken and veggies, add salt and pepper as desired, and pour the yakisoba sauce over everything. Let the mixture cook until the liquid reduces, and the noodles dry out a bit. Serve with a garnish of sesame seeds.

These are all recipes I have created to prepare quick, healthy meals for my family. However, sometimes it's just easier to refer to an existing recipe! Here are 10 of my personal favorite recipes to try:

Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables

This recipe comes from Fitness Magazine, and it's the perfect healthy meal to enjoy on a hot summer day. The light, zesty flavor of lemon mixes perfectly with the crisp sautéed veggies. Definitely, a recipe I'd recommend to anyone.

Chicken & Summer Vegetable Tostadas

From MyRecipes comes an amazing option for a fresh take on the classic Mexican tostada. It's loaded with veggies but has all the crunch that makes tostadas such a delicious dish. If you've got a pot of leftover beans and didn't know what to do with them, this is the perfect option for you!

Stir-Fried Chicken Salad

Who doesn't love a good salad? This salad comes with the tangy flavors of the Orient, but no carb-heavy noodles or rice to make the meal less than healthy. If you want a quick, low-calorie meal to serve to your family, you'll love the taste of this salad.

Waffle Iron Turkey Melt Panini

Got a waffle iron? Got turkey ham or leftover turkey? You've got everything you need to make one heck of a delicious sandwich. This MyRecipes treat is loaded with cheese, just enough veggies to add crunch, and weird-looking waffle-like bread that is way tastier than you'd expect. As a sandwich lover, this is one I'd highly recommend to anyone.

Cube Steak with Mushroom-Sherry Sauce

Looking to cook something a bit fancier? This recipe from Eating Well is the perfect option for you. It combines the rich flavors of meat with a quick-to-make sherry sauce that will astonish any dinner guests, or get your kids to eat their mushrooms. You can steam some broccoli and cauliflower to serve on the side, along with any mashed or baked potatoes leftover from your last meal.

Southwestern Pizza

What? Pizza in 18 minutes--impossible, right? Not at all! This Fitness Magazine Recipe calls for whole wheat pizza crusts, but you can always use pita bread instead. With all the simple ingredients you have in your pantry and fridge, you can whip up one heck of a tasty pizza in less than 20 minutes. Don't expect to have any leftovers.

Chorizo Carbonara with Catalan Market Salad

Chorizo Carbonara with Catalan Market Salad

My wife (a huge Jamie Oliver fan) loves to prepare this meal on the weekends when the kids are with friends, and there are just two of us to enjoy something classy. It may be a bit high in calories (what with the noodles, cheese, and chorizo), but it's totally worth it!

Southwestern Chicken Soup

You know those days when it's cold outside, and you want something warm to eat? This is one of my favorite soup recipes, courtesy of Real Simple. It's rich, hearty, and loaded with flavor. Heck, it's even high enough in calories to be considered "comfort food."

Eggplant Burgers

On those VERY rare occasions when I feel in a vegetarian mood, this is the perfect recipe for me! I can prepare my veggie burgers as I'm grilling regular meat patties for the kids, and we can enjoy our burger meal together-- the only mine is way healthier than theirs!

Pasta With Fresh Tomatoes And Pine Nuts

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

If you want only haute cuisine, this Martha Stewart recipe is definitely the one to try. The combination of uber-thin angel hair pasta, fresh tomatoes, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic makes for one heck of an amazing pasta, but it's ready in under 18 minutes. Talk about a way to spice up your meals!

Even though you might feel tired after a long day, capping it with a healthy and sumptuous dinner is a great way to relax. These recipes will allow you to whip something up quickly without compromising the nutrients and benefits your body would acquire.

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