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Even when life is at its most hectic, (which, if you are like me, means every weeknight!) you can still get fast healthy dinners on the table, fuss-free. This simple 4-step strategy is a sure-fire way to win at dinner, every time.

Cod with Kale and Chorizo in Broth

Cod with Kale and Chorizo in Broth

Step 1: Choose a quick-cooking, healthy protein.

Many good-for-you protein foods like seafood, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, and canned beans can go from fridge or cupboard to plate in a matter of minutes. And frozen fish fillets, like cod or flounder, can actually be cooked without thawing first! So be sure to keep at least a week’s worth of these healthy proteins on hand at any given time between your refrigerator, freezer and pantry.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pesto

Step 2: Pair it with a quick- cooking whole grain

Many think that whole grains take forever to cook, but there is a long list of tasty, fiber-rich grains that cook up in less than 20 minutes, or don’t require cooking at all, such as quinoa, whole-grain couscous, “instant” (parboiled) brown rice, whole-grain pasta, bulgur, and whole-grain breads. Stock up so you have a variety on hand.

Whole Grain Penne with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

Step 3: Add no-chop veggies

Adding a bounty of vegetables to your meal doesn’t have to mean lots of effort. There are many fresh vegetables that require no (or hardly any) chopping, like cherry tomatoes, snow peas, and pre-washed greens like arugula and spinach. Also, take advantage of frozen vegetables like peas, broccoli, and corn, and canned tomatoes. And don’t hesitate to grab a package or two of the pre-cut vegetables at the store. Sometimes they can mean the difference between a healthy home-cooked meal and greasy take-out.

Ancho Chicken with Warm Corn Salad

Ancho Chicken With Warm Corn, Zucchini and Tomato Salad

Step 4: Top with a simple seasoning.

Once you have the three basic elements in place (protein, grain and vegetable), think flavor! It doesn’t have to be fussy—a simple drizzle of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper over everything heightens flavor healthfully, without any extra work. You can even take it a step further with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, a dash of smoked paprika to give it a Spanish flare, a grating of fresh ginger for an Asian twist, or a dash of chili powder for some Southwestern spice.

Herbed Lentil Skillet

Herbed Lentil Skillet with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Ricotta

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