This page is packed full of delicious and good for you dinner ideas to help inspire you in the kitchen that are also extremely simple to make. Here you’ll find delicious sheet pan meals, slow-cooker dishes, and 30 minute dinners. Even better, most of them can be partially prepped ahead to make the after-work dinner scramble go as smoothly as possible & save you loads of time.
4 Components to a Nutritious Dinner:
When browsing for recipes for dinner ideas or throwing something together with what you have on hand, there are few things you want to think about to make dinner nutritious and balanced.
There are 4 components to keep in mind:
I first like to decide what type of protein I want to include, and build my meal around that. For example, if you have chicken in the fridge, think about the different types of meals you can make with chicken. You could marinate and grill it, then serve with a side of roasted veggies and potatoes, or you could cut the chicken breasts into slices & make breaded chicken strips to go with a salad, use it for a stir fry, fajitas, quesadillas, for a soup, skewers. The options are endless!
Protein is an important component to the meal because this is what will give us that lasting fullness and satisfaction! Ever had a big bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, only to be hungry again 30 minutes later? Adding a protein, whether that be chicken breast, lentils, or meatballs, gives us the lasting fullness we need. Aim to use lean proteins more often, and red meats and pork a little less often.
Lean Protein Ideas:
- Poultry like chicken & turkey
- Fish & seafood like salmon, canned tuna, shrimp
- Chickpeas, black beans, white beans etc.
- Edamame beans
- Greek or Skyr yogurt (probably my favourite high protein breakfast!)
Next, decide what vegetables you want to use. Is there any veggies in the back of your fridge that are about to go bad? Think of ways to incorporate this into your meal. You could season and cook them as a stand alone side, use in a soup, add to tomato sauce, make a loaded salad. Spinach or mixed salad greens that are on their last legs are perfect for wilting into a stir fry. You could even substitute vegetables with similar cooking times in recipes to better use up what you already have.
Veggies are an essential component because of the are an amazing source of fibre and nutrients. Packed with vitamins, minerals and something called phytonutrients- which are only found in plants! Fibre is amazing for our gut health, and actually contributes to good heart health. Along with protein, it also helps to provide that lasting fullness.
3) Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are our bodies #1 favourite fuel source, our muscles and brains are both wired to very efficiently use carbohydrates for energy. Complex carbs take a little longer for our bodies to digest, compared to simple carbs, due to the higher amount of fibre they includes. They also contain more nutrients- think whole wheat bread vs. white bread- the whole wheat version will contain more vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Complex Carb Ideas:
- Grains like barley, farrow
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Whole wheat bread, tortilla wraps, buns, etc.
- Sweet Potatoes/Yams
- Butternut squash, or other squash variations
4) Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats is a type of dietary fat that we find in plant sources- this is the type we hear about being the “good type of fat.” Saturated fat, although still essential, is the type found in animal sources which we tend to get too much of.
Since we tend to get enough saturated fat, it is a good idea to think about the different ways to get the unsaturated fats, including those omega 3s into our diet in order to get all the health benefits- they even help to nourish our skin & hair from the inside out!
Unsaturated Fat Ideas:
- Extra virgin olive oil & other vegetable oils
- Nuts & nut butters
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel
- Seeds like chia, flax, hemp hearts, etc.
Even just unsaturated fat to cook your food is a great way to include it in the meal. You can also add it to the meal by topping salads with nuts & seeds, adding avocado on top of a taco, using olive oil in your dressings, sauces and marinades, using fish as your protein source.
Time saving tips:
- Plan ahead! Decide on a few recipes you want to cook for the week- do your grocery shopping based on these recipes so you won’t need to run to the store for one ingredient.
- Prep some parts of the meal ahead! Chop the veggies, make any dressings or marinades, batch cook any grains you’ll need. Make it easy for yourself to get dinner on the table on those busy weeknights.
- Utilize any kitchen tools and gadgets you might have. Like a garlic press, mandolin, food processor for the chopping.
Sheet-Pan Dinner Ideas
- Honey Dijon Chicken & Veggies Sheet Pan Meal right from The Dietitian Feed! A super simple Honey Dijon sauce adds so much flavour to the chicken, veggies and potatoes that are all baked right on one pan.
- Sheet Pan Bruschetta Chicken from Damn Delicious
- Chipotle Portobello Tacos from Feasting at Home. Such an easy way to do tacos! Don’t skip the refined beans for vegetarian protein boost!
4. Vegan Tempeh Bolognese right here on The Dietitian Feed
5. Chili Maple Lime Salmon Bowls with Forbidden Rice from Ambitious Kitchen- you can also sub with any rice you have on hand!
6. Shrimp Fajita’s from Kim’s Cravings
7. Healthy White Chicken Chili from Ambitious Kitchen
Slow Cooker Dinner Ideas
8. Comforting Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup right here on The Dietitian Feed!
9. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Rice Bowls from your’s truly at The Dietitian Feed- either make this into rice bowls as indicated or make them fajita style with whole grain or corn tortillas! Also a great one for meal prepped lunches.
10. Crock Pot Chicken Chili from Fit Foodie Finds
I hope this list gives you a little inspiration and helps to make dinner time as easy as possible!