Preparing dinner during weeknights can be a feat even in the best of times. Putting together a whole week’s worth of healthy fast meals requires adequate planning. Preparing a fresh meal when you’re juggling a busy schedule, can almost feel impossible. Take heart you’re not alone, we have been there too.
Lucky, you, here’s a solid dinner solution, it doesn’t involve cereal, take out or random grazing through the pantry. These seven meals are what you need in your back pocket when you’re short on time and energy but want a satisfying dinner.
Tips For Faster, Easier And Healthier Weeknight Dinners
- Cook grains in large batches
- Buy two or three bunches of herbs over the weekend, clean, stem and batch them while you’re watching TV.
- Make a big batch of sauce or condiment you love and store in the fridge
- Keep a clean kitchen
- Buy a whole fish, stuff it with thin slices of lemon and herbs and roast it in the pan
- Make a substantive and quick meal that can remain in the fridge for few days
- Keep good sliced bread in the freezer in a large resealable bag
- Cook a pot of lentils or beans over the weekend
- Keep refreshing, ready to use spices within reach
- Pick up a rosette chicken from the market, or roast your chicken. Shred it and store in the fridge
- Roast several kinds of root veggies on baking sheets
- Store edamame, chopped scallions, spinach, tomato sauce and ground beef in your freezer
- Store eggs and cheese
- Keep pasta in your pantry at all times
- Stock your pantry with good quality canned proteins such as tuna, octopus, sardines, smoked muscles and a jar of fancy peppers.
Fast, Fresh and Comforting Dinner Meal Ideas
Salmon Baked With Olive Oil And Herbs
If you’re afraid of overcooking or undercooking fish, then this recipe is perfect for you. The process is foolproof; there’s almost no way you’ll mess it up.
The keys are the olive oil and low baking temperature. The fish gets poached in a very shallow pool of olive oil. The oil and a paste of herbs on top protect your fish from the heat. Together the oil and the herbs protect the fish from overbaking.
Heat the oven. Slowly lay the salmon skin side down in the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Blend the dill, shallot, parsley and lemon zest in a food processor. Add two tablespoons of olive oil. Pat the herb paste over the salmon. Depending on the thickness bake the salmon for 20-28 minutes. To serve, cut the salmon into four equal pieces. Serve with fresh bread or rice and generous green salad.
- Salmon is rich in omega three fatty acids
- It’s a great source of protein
- Excellent source of B vitamins
- Good source of potassium and selenium
- Contains antioxidant astaxanthin
- Helps reduce risk of heart disease
- Benefits weight control
- Fights inflammation
- Protects your brain health
Spicy Chicken Skewers With Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
Though you add plenty of red pepper flakes with these skewers, the zesty sun-dried tomato sauce offers a sweet reprieve. Just make sure to toss the chicken with marinade, in the morning, and you’re ready to go.
To prepare the marinade, combine garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt, in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Fold in the chicken, and marinate for at least one hour or overnight.
To make the basting sauce place sun-dried tomatoes along with their oil, in a mini food processor. Add vinegar, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and honey and blend until the mixture is smooth. Season with pepper and salt and set aside.
Preheat the large grill pan over medium heat. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, baste the top of the chicken with sundried tomato sauce. Cook for about 12-15 minutes. Flip the skewers in between and spread the basting sauce on the chicken whenever needed.
Transfer the skewers to a clean serving platter, serve warm with minced Italian parsley and lemon slices as garnish.
These sun-kissed beauties, are a concentrated source of nutrients. They are rich in vitamins C and K, iron and lycopene. You’ll get them dry or packed in oil. Lycopene lowers the risk of cancers.
- Great source of protein
- Primary source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B, D and A
- Helps in weight loss
- Controls blood pressure
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Reduces cholesterol
- Intake of warm chicken soup provides relief from common cold
Gluten-free tuna casserole
Source: Abbey’s Kitchen
Gluten-free tuna casserole is a highly nutritious dish with lots of fresh veggies including carrots, peas, and broccoli. The recipe also includes fresh mushrooms, so you don’t need to add canned soup. You’ll be using spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
Preheat your oven. Grease the casserole dish and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut your squash in half and bake it for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Sauté celery, onion, and carrot, in olive oil for about 7 minutes.
Stir in the flour until it coats the veggies. Whisk in the stock and milk and cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the parsley, mushrooms, thyme, peas, broccoli, tuna, and squash. Mix well and transfer to the casserole dish.
Sprinkle some cheese and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the dish and top with chips that are made from a blend of root veggies. Cook until the contents has thickened.
- Tuna contains selenium in an unusual form called selenoneine.
- It provides excellent antioxidant benefits.
- Tuna has very high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and boosts your heart health.
- It protects your cell membrane against damage.
- It reduces inflammation
- Fights kidney disease
- Prevents cancer
- Improves blood circulation and energy levels
- Boosts immune system
- Helps in weight loss and obesity
- Reduces blood pressure
- Helps in growth and development
Simple Kale and black bean burritos
Source: Cookie+ Kate
“Stuffed full of beans ‘n greens and brightened with lime and feta cheese, they’re a little spicy and entirely delicious,” writes Kathryne founder of Cookie+kate blog.
Combine cilantro, kale, jalapeno, lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin and sea salt in a bowl. First, sauté the garlic and then warm it along with beans with a couple of tablespoons of water. Using a fork, gently mash up the beans and add salt if needed.
Gently warm your tortilla in a skillet. Top your tortilla with sliced avocado, black bean mixture, and marinated kale. Top with feta and red onion. Roll up the burrito by folding it from the bottom to partially cover the beans and the greens. Now fold in the two sides. After you’ve finished rolling, put your burrito on a plate. Slice in half and serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.
- It is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat
- It is rich in iron and vitamin K.
- Kale contains powerful antioxidants
- It supports your cardiovascular health
- Kale is high in vitamins C and A and calcium
- It is a great anti-inflammatory food.
- Black bean
- Maintains healthy bones
- Lowers blood pressure
- Manages diabetes
- Wards off heart disease
- Prevents cancer
- Boosts digestion
- Helps in weight loss
Quinoa Salad with Asparagus Date and Orange
Quinoa salad is a mix of three cultural influences. The orange and dates are an Israeli touch, quinoa is a high protein grain from South America, and the pecans pay homage to the American South.
Saute white onion and quinoa in a teaspoon of oil. Add water and salt and bring it to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Let it stand so that quinoa absorbs the water. Transfer the contents to a large bowl.
Add in orange, pecans, minced red onion, dates, asparagus, diced jalapeno pepper. Toss gently to combine.
To prepare the dressing, combine lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, minced garlic, and chopped fresh mint. Garnish with mint sprigs.
- Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat.
- Rich in fiber, iron, lysine, and manganese
- High in riboflavin and magnesium
- It promotes digestive health
- Boosts your heart health
- Dates being rich in magnesium are known for its anti-inflammatory benefits
- Reduces blood pressure and risk of stroke
- Ensures a healthy pregnancy and delivery
- Increases brain power
- Helps in weight loss
- Fights urinary tract infections
- Rich in antioxidants and vitamin E
- Beats stomach bloating and reduces hangover
The Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Stuffed chicken breast dish is enough for a weeknight supper. More than that it is elegant enough for company.
Preheat your broiler. Cut bell pepper half lengthwise. Gently place the pepper halves skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until blackened or for 15 minutes. Place in the zip-lock plastic bag. After 15 minutes, peel it and finely chop.
Combine cheese, olives, bell pepper and basil. Take the thickest portion of the chicken breast and cut a horizontal slit to form a pocket. Close the opening with a wooden pick.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Pack the chicken on the grill rack. Grill for six minutes on each side or until it is done. Cover loosely with foil, after removing from grill. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes.
- Have significant antioxidant properties
- Improves heart health
- Promotes bone health
- Prevents cancer
- Bell peppers
- Low in calories
- Rich in vitamin C
- Capsaicin in bell peppers reduces cholesterol, eases inflammation and control diabetes
- Sulfur present in bell peppers protects against cancers
- Bell peppers being a good source of vitamin E keeps your skin young
- Contains vitamin B6 which boosts your nervous system and helps renews cells
- Enzymes such as lutein protects your eyes from cataracts
Carrot Soup With Yogurt
A hint of toasted sesame oil gives depth to this velvety soup. Adding sautéed carrot strips provides a visual delight.
To prepare this soup, go in for fresh baby carrots, not the “whittled-down” packaged ones. If you’re lucky enough to have a green thumb, you can grow fresh carrots, inside your own home. Follow this link to find out how to grow an indoor carrot garden.
Heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and carrots one after the other and cook until tender. Add ginger and cook until the carrots turn soft. Allow it to stand at room temperature.
Pour half the carrot mixture into the blender, blend until smooth. Repeat the procedure with the remaining carrot mixture. Pour the pureed soup into pan. Heat for 2 minutes over medium heat.
Spoon the soup into little bowls, top with plain yogurt and fresh mint sprigs. “Adding yogurt makes a difference in the flavor,” says a reviewer of the recipe.
- Prevents heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps in digestion
- Boosts immunity
- Protects against cancer
- Prevents macular degeneration
- Improves eyesight
- Enhances oral health
- Controls diabetes
- Reduces risk of stroke
A healthy meal increases your energy levels, provides nutrients for growth and repair. It helps you stay active and healthy, and prevents diet-related illness. Follow these tips while cooking to enjoy excellent health.
Use smart fats such as olive oil, over saturated fat like butter. Pick whole grains over refined grains, because whole grains have their bran intact. Thus they have more fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, zinc and other nutrients. Aim up to 4-13 servings of fruits and veggies per day.
Meat is a great source of protein, so eat small amounts of lean meat, fish, and poultry. Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, so replace whole milk dairy with low fat or non-fat options. It’s the best way to cut saturated fat in your diet.
Keeping portion size reasonable is one of the easiest ways to manage calories. Whether you have high blood pressure or not, keep an eye on your sodium levels. Enhance food with bold flavors like spices, fresh herbs, and citrus. Be mindful and enjoy your food.