Finding healthy dinners to make during the week can be difficult if you are super busy. I’m always tempted to just go through the Taco Bell drive-thru on my way home from work, but then I remember that I’m not in high school anymore and can’t eat fast food every night without gaining any weight! I want my competitive cheerleading metabolism back… So I like to plan my meals at the beginning of the week with easy healthy weeknight dinners that I can whip up real fast and don’t require a lot of professional chef skill.
During super busy weeks, I try to plan my weeknight meals with three main food groups: grilled meat protein, a side of carbs, and a side of vegetables. Sticking to that three-food-group template will basically plan all of your meals for you. For the grilled meat protein I usually go for grilled chicken, grilled steak, or grilled pork chops. And the reason why I like “grilled” specifically is because 1.) you don’t have to bake or cook them in oil or butter, they just go right on the grill, and 2.) my boyfriend is a grill master so he grills the meat while I cook the sides! If you don’t have a grill/don’t want to grill, you can totally bake them or cook them on the stove top. Just go east with the olive oil or butter if you do!
For the side of carbs, I typically like to do white rice, brown rice, quinoa, the Knorr broccoli cheddar or chicken flavored rice sides, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, pasta salad, or baked little potatoes. None of these sides require a lot of work. For the white and brown rice, I just do the boil-in-bag rice that takes 8-10 minutes. The Knorr rice sides take about 7 minutes, and the quinoa, mashed potatoes, and pasta salad all come in a box also (at least the ones I make do!), so they can just be cooked on the stove for a little bit. And the baked potatoes and baked small potatoes (new potatoes, red potatoes, baby potatoes, etc.) just go into the oven with olive oil and cook themselves!
And for the vegetable sides, my go-tos are always oven-roasted broccoli, oven-roasted cauliflower, oven-roasted asparagus, oven-roasted brussel sprouts, or sauteed zucchini. Notice a pattern there? Most veggies can just be chopped up, tossed in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and then thrown into the oven!
All of that seems pretty easy right? And it is all on the healthier side as long as you watch your portion sizes! For the meat protein, I will chop up the meat into bite-size pieces and measure out a cup full for myself to eat. For the carb side, I will measure out ½ cup. And for the veggie side, I will measure out 1 cup as well. On days that I’m working out or running, I will give myself a full cup of the carbs so that my body will be nice and recovered from my workout! You can track your portion sizes on the MyFitnessPal app to make sure that you are eating enough and to make sure that you aren’t eating too much!
Here is this week’s easy healthy weeknight dinners that I’m making:
Monday: Grilled steak, baked new potatoes, oven-roasted brussel sprouts
- 360 calories | 27g carbs | 16g fat | 25g protein
- Directions: grill or pan-sear steak until desired temperature/cookedness. Slice the new potatoes in half, toss in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, bake in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Slice the brussel sprouts in half and chop off the ugly end, toss in olive oil, balsamic vinegar (not the salad dressing), garlic powder, salt, and pepper, bake in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken, Knorr chicken flavored rice side, oven-roasted cauliflower
- 247 calories | 29g carbs | 3g fat | 27g protein
- Directions: grill chicken for about 15 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165. Cook the rice according to the package. Chop the cauliflower into small florets, toss in olive oil, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, bake in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, then move to top rack and broil for another 8-10 minutes.
Wednesday: Grilled shrimp tacos, broccoli slaw in a cilantro avocado ranch sauce, white rice
- 385 calories | 44g carbs | 7g fat | 30g protein
- Directions: peel and devein the shrimp, toss the shrimp in lime or lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper (if you like spicy), heat on the stove in a pan for 4-6 minutes until shrimp are pink and fully heated through. Toss the broccoli slaw in the cilantro avocado ranch sauce (I use the cilantro avocado salad dressing). Cook the rice according to package, mix with lime juice and cilantro when it’s done. When the shrimp is done, line the bottom of a corn tortilla with the cilantro avocado sauce, place the shrimp in the tortilla, place the broccoli slaw on top of the shrimp, and top with feta or cotija cheese and cilantro if desired.
Thursday: Grilled chicken, pasta salad, sauteed zucchini
- 244 calories | 24g carbs | 5g fat | 26g protein
- Directions: grill chicken for about 15 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165. Cook the pasta salad according to box. Chop the zucchini, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the zucchini, garlic powder or minced garlic, salt, and pepper, sautee for 5 minutes or until desired crispiness.
Friday: Date night so we usually go out to eat!
See, that’s pretty easy right?! Most everything is either on the grill for a few minutes, on the stove for a few minutes, or in the oven cooking itself so you can knock out some other chores around the house! These are the easy healthy weeknight dinners that we typically eat most weeks because we’re both super busy and these are easy to make, healthier than fast food, and they’re delicious! We’ll switch it up with some pasta one night, or pork chops, or maybe breakfast for dinner. Just whatever we have time for, which is usually what I typed up above!
What are your favorite easy healthy weeknight dinners?!