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Healthy Quick Dinner Ideas

Fall brings on a hectic to-do list with school, sports and other after-school activities. Don't let a busy schedule to be an excuse to avoid the kitchen. Studies show well-planned home-cooked meals can improve the quality of our nutrition intake, be lighter on our wallets, improve communication within our family and support our performance at school and work. 

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano Clinical Nutrition Manager Marie Detillier shares ways to plan your next week's meals ahead of time and reap the benefits. Select one from each column and enjoy your dinner!

Protein Starch/Carbohydrate Vegetable
Sauce/Seasoning Ideas
Chicken breast or tenders - no skin Brown rice - instant Asparagus Salt-free seasoning of choice (ex: Mrs. Dash, garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs)
Pork tenderloin cutlets Corn or peas Broccoli Marinara sauce (choose one with less than 400mg sodium per serving)
Shrimp Couscous - wheat Carrots Sauteed onion, olive oil, white wine and seasoning of choice
Fish Pasta - less than 3g fiber per serving Cauliflower Can of low-sodium seasoned tomatoes (ex: Italian tomatoes, Rotel with peppers)
Beef tenderloin medallions Quinoa Spinach Salad dressing - 1 Tbsp vinaigrette or low-fat yogurt based. It's not just for salad - try it on meats as a marinade and sauce
Extra-lean ground beef Tortilla - small, less than 100 calories and more than 3g fiber each Squash Citrus juice and zest: lemon, lime, orange

(any kind is good)

White or sweet potato - eat the skin, too! Roast pieces, microwave whole or sautee diced. Zucchini Pesto sauce - 1 Tbsp serving (jar or store made)

Quickest healthy cooking methods:

  • Grill (use grill pan on the stovetop, George Foreman type indoor grill, or outside grill)
  • Sautee (on the stovetop - use nonstick cooking spray or max 1 tsp olive or canola oil)
  • Crock pot (get home to a cooked meal!)

Tips for success:

  • Small pieces cook quickly, so cut up your meats and veggies before cooking
  • Buy quick-cooking starch sources
  • Frozen veggies are just about as healthy as fresh, so don't feel guilty for using convenience items
  • Healthy meal = low saturated and trans fats, light sodium, fiber containing carbohydrates, protein and vegetable sources
  • Don't be afraid to try new things: Did you know whole wheat couscous is boiled like rice and done cooking in five to six minutes? Did you know Mrs. Dash makes more than 10 different types of salt-free seasoning blends?
  • Keep your kitchen stocked with a couple of options from the mix and match table so you can throw together a dinner in no time!


Healthy Quick Dinner Ideas

15 Minute Southwestern Style Shrimp Tacos Dinner

Serves 4 (three tacos each)


  • 1 pound shrimp - large, fresh, peeled, deveined (buy it that way at the store) or use a bag of frozen uncooked - just put the bag in the refrigerator the night before so they thaw out
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 3 tbsp chipotle seasoning powder (or use a packet of taco seasoning if you don't have chipotle seasoning on hand)
  • 3-4 cups broccoli dlaw, prepackaged from the store
  • 12 small wheat tortillas (Mission Carb Balance brand used)
  • ¾ cup low calorie salsa ranch yogurt dressing (Bolthouse Farms brand used)
  • ¼ cup feta cheese (just enough to sprinkle a little on each taco)


  • Heat your large, nonstick sautee pan over medium heat
  • In a large bowl, toss thawed/fresh shrimp with chipotle seasoning powder
  • Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray and add the seasoned shrimp to the pan
  • Sautee shrimp for 5 minutes (take shrimp out of the pan as soon as they turn pink)
  • Avoid overcooking shrimp as it will turn rubbery
  • In a medium bowl, mix the broccoli slaw and salad dressing
  • Place 3 tortillas on each plate
  • Top each tortilla with slaw/dressing mix, 3 shrimp and a sprinkle of feta cheese
  • Squeeze lime juice over each taco right before serving

Nutrition facts per dinner serving (3 tacos):

  • 399 calories, 13g fat, 610 mg sodium, 32g fiber, 43g carb, 26g protein

Healthy "Baked" Sweet Potato

Pierce fresh, washed potato with a fork a couple of times

Put in a microwave safe dish or on paper towel

Microwave for 5-10 minutes on high (stop cooking when potato feels soft)


  • 1 tbsp Smart Balance Light or other no trans fat spread
  • 2 packets Splenda sweetener
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder

Mix ingredients and put on your warm opened potato

Nutrition facts (with 1 medium potato and topping):

153 calories, 5g fat, 131mg sodium, 4g fiber, 24g carb, 2g protein

For more tips on small, healthy changes you can make, visit TexasHealth.org/Well-Being.

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