Nutrition Blog‎ > ‎

Quick and Easy Dinners

posted Jul 23, 2018, 9:25 AM by Tracy Ducker, MS, RDN   [ updated Jul 30, 2018, 6:27 AM ]
Working late? Traffic a nightmare? Shuffling kids around to practice? Too tired to prepare an elaborate meal? You don’t need to reach for the cereal-again. We have some great tips to help you put a healthy dinner on the table – quick.

1- The first thing to do is plan ahead (it is also the hardest to do). Grab a calendar (see below for some apps) or create your own if you still like paper and pencil. Take 5-15 minutes and look at what you have going on that week and start planning. For evenings with a lot going on, find ways to use leftovers or use already prepared items to create a meal.

2- Create your shopping list – see what you already have in the cupboards and refrigerator/freezer. Are there items you need to use up? I like to organize my list using the layout of the grocery store I go to, that way I save time having to go back and forth revisiting the same section or isle. If possible try to plan your shopping trip so you have time for some food prep when you get back home. If it fits into your budget consider buying some items that are already pre-prepped (ie. Preseasoned meat, pre-cut produce).

3- Prepping for the week- wash and cut any produce that won’t spoil quickly, prepare any sauces for the week.

4- Putting it into place – to make things easier during the week either mark the leftover containers or have a section in the refrigerator designated for leftovers.


Tips: Once you have 4 weeks of menus you can just move meals around depending on your schedule. It is always good to have a quick back up meal that is ready to go, in case something pops up. Breakfast for Dinner works really well as a backup meal.

  •          Make 2 or 3 pounds worth of meatballs and freeze in portioned bags or containers for quick spaghetti and meatballs, meatball soup, or BBQ meatballs during the week.
  •         Throw left over vegetables in a pot with vegetable stock, add some lentils, beans or left over meat for a hearty soup. Double the recipe and freeze for next week.
  •         Use a slow cooker for an easy one pot meal, freeze 1/2 for next week.
  •         Have whole wheat pita bread sub rolls for a quick sandwich using left over roasted chicken, ham or steak. Try lettuce wraps for a low carb alternative.
  •         Toss a veggie salad and add canned tuna or beans for a super quick meal.

Below is a simple example of how to plan a week's worth of dinners. It does take a little time initially but in the long run you will save time and have healthier well balanced meals. 












Prepping for the week


Roasted whole chicken with baked sweet potatoes,

fresh or steamed sugar snap peas and carrots,

Patriotic fruit salad



Meatless Monday



Penne with herbs, tomatoes and peas (from cooking light)

Crusty whole wheat bruschetta with pesto and tomatoes




Soccer Practice






Baked salmon with lemon and Italian seasoning

Couscous pilaf with peas and carrots

Fresh cut fruit with yogurt dip








Pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches (use chicken from Sunday)

Tossed Salad with Fresh Veggie, nuts or seeds, and cheese

Roasted red skin potatoes



 Soccer Practice



Breakfast for dinner:


Veggie and Salmon omelets (use leftover salmon and bell peppers, add additional veggies of choice

Whole grain toast

Spinach, strawberry and flaxseed smoothie

                              Soccer Practice



Dinner out






Steak fajitas with veggies and whole wheat or corn tortillas

Baked tortilla chips with guacamole

Cilantro lime rice with black beans



Meal planning apps - Here are a few I found, there are many others available all with different features, so look around to find one that best meets your needs:                                                   Mealtime (free); FoodPlanner (free); MealBoard ($4); Recipe calendar (free).