As the holiday season ramps up, you might be looking for some quick and healthy dinner ideas right about now. Amidst the flurry of holiday shopping, social commitments, decorating, and endless gift wrapping, our schedules often reach a tipping point. And when our days are stretched thin and stress levels are on the rise, our normal commitment to healthy, home-cooked meals can start to waver. We might find ourselves turning to takeout or impromptu restaurant meals more often than we’d like.
With the extra spending that comes with December, the last thing we want to do is waste money on unplanned restaurant meals.
Of course, going out to dinner or enjoying the convenience of takeout during a marathon gift-wrapping session can be part of the holiday fun. But if you’re resorting to less-than-ideal meal choices due to a lack of planning or the mental bandwidth to plan dinner, you might be looking for some simple solutions right about now. We are here to help!
Below you’ll find a ready-to-go dinner menu for 5 easy dinners, complete with side suggestions, and the shopping list to make it easy.
These dinners are quick, healthy, and easy to make, with most taking 30 to 40 minutes or less to land on your table. They can also be made ahead, reducing stress when you’re swamped, and they’re among our members’ favorites.
If you’re a Dinner Daily member, these recipes are just a search away in your menu. If you are not a member, you can print both the menu and shopping list below.
5 Quick and Healthy Dinner Ideas to Save Time and Money:
Here are the five dinner ideas you can use right now to get a quick and healthy dinner on the table, even when you feel crazy busy. We’ve also included side dish suggestions for each meal, giving you one less thing to worry about.
- Super Easy Parmesan Chicken Bake: a top favorite among our members, this recipe is deceptively simple yet bursting with flavor. Paired with two easy sides, it makes for a well-rounded, effortless meal
- Ginger Sesame Salmon: another long time member favorite due to its simplicity and amazing taste. Don’t like salmon? It works just as well with your favorite white fish.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Fiesta: born from a snow day necessity, this versatile recipe has become a weeknight staple in our house. You can easily adapt to what is in your crisper or pantry. It also makes use of your trusty slow cooker, a major time saver at this time of year.
- Easy Herbed Pork Tenderloin: with just a few herbs and spices and a quick roast in the oven, this meal is as straightforward as it gets.
- Roasted Veggie Pasta: a great make-ahead and meatless option, full of veggies. Swap out the veggies with what makes sense for you.
Note: the time to table shown on the menu includes both the mains AND the sides. If you choose to do your own sides, the total time to table may be less.
A Few More Tips for Quick and Healthy Dinners During the Holiday Frenzy:
Spending a little time at the beginning of the week for meal planning can significantly save time and money while helping you stick to healthy eating habits. For more detailed strategies, check out our numerous meal planning articles on the blog. To get you started, here are a few tips relevant for the holiday season:
- Plan Ahead to Minimize Grocery Trips: a little planning goes a long way in easing your weekly stress and saving time. You don’t need to spend your entire Sunday prepping meals (unless you enjoy it), but a bit of planning can make a big difference. Before the week begins, take a moment to write out your meal plan, compile a shopping list, and make just one trip to the grocery store. Frequent grocery visits can be a significant drain on both your time and budget.
- Double Up Recipes for Easier Nights: consider cooking meals in larger quantities. For example, a roasted chicken can serve as one night’s dinner and transform into Chicken Enchiladas or Chicken Salad sandwiches for another meal. Similarly, cooking extra ground beef or turkey can set you up for a quick taco night or a hearty addition to a soup.
- Cook Meals in Advance: who says dinner has to be made at dinnertime? One of my go-to strategies, especially when my kids were younger, was to prepare dinner in the morning. By evening, not only was dinner ready, but the cleanup was done too, which significantly lifted my mood. It also saved us from last-minute store runs or the dreaded fridge stare-down. Dinner Daily members can easily find make-ahead meal options using the search feature.
- Embrace Flexibility in Meal Choices: dinner doesn’t always need to be a traditional hot meal. As long as your meals are healthy and wholesome, feel free to mix it up. Omelets, hearty sandwiches, and dinner salads are both satisfying and quick. Try a batch of tuna salad on whole grain buns with fresh fruit, or prepare some chicken breasts ahead of time for a quick dinner salad. One of our favorite simple meals is a garden salad topped with cooked chicken, black beans, shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and salsa for a Southwestern twist.
Enjoying the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to compromise on healthy, home-cooked meals. With these quick and nutritious recipes, you can get through your to-do list while still keeping your family well-fed and energized.
Need more help with meal planning?
If you are looking for ongoing help with getting healthy meals on the table during the year, you can sign up for The Dinner Daily for 2 weeks for free. Each week you will receive a personalized dinner menu based on your preferences and what’s on special at your grocery store. You can check it out HERE