We tend to keep our recipes super simple, because we know how precious your time is. Now, we’re taking that one step further and sharing healthy dinner ideas…that don’t even require a recipe.
These are the delicious, nutritious meals you can get on the table by basically just throwing a few basic ingredients together—usually in multiple ways, depending on what’s in the fridge.
RELATED: The 10 Easiest Recipes on Our Site
The best part of cooking this way is that instead of blindly following steps, you’ll be improvising, AKA developing skills that will make you a better healthy cook. You know, the kind that can peek in the fridge at any time and immediately come up with a brilliant meal plan.
Get started with the ideas, below, and then keep them stored in the back of your brain for moments when the inevitable question surfaces: What’s for dinner?
7 Healthy Dinners That Don’t Require a Recipe
1. Eggs and Veggies
Seriously, everyone loves breakfast for dinner, and scrambles are great because you can throw in almost any veggies you have in the fridge, plus your favorite cheese for extra protein. Bonus: Top with sliced avocado and serve with a big green salad on the side. See Keri’s favorite things to throw in egg scrambles, here.
2. Chicken and veggies
A hunk of grilled chicken can be paired with whatever vegetables you’ve got. A quick kale salad? Sure. Roasted sweet potatoes? Perfect. Sauteed spinach? Brilliant. Add flavor to the chicken by using a marinade (if you’re a meal prepper, you can make a big batch for the week) or by throwing some healthy condiments on top—like fresh salsa.
If you’ve got really good tortillas on hand or big-leaf lettuce that can be used as wraps, you can then improvise all different kinds of “tacos.” (See Keri’s approach to tacos, here!) Leftover steak or chicken or beans can be the base, and then you can pile vegetables and condiments. Play with flavors, here—they don’t have to be Tex-Mex. For instance, maybe you bought gut-healthy kimchi? Try a Korean-style taco.
4. Quinoa Salad
Quinoa cooks in 15 minutes (20 max!) and it’s so neutral when it comes to taste, you can basically put anything in it. For example, make it Greek-style with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta, with a quick lemon dressing. Or if you’ve got leftover taco ingredients, toss beans, corn, avocado, and tomato with the quinoa for a taco (grain) salad. And if you want more protein, add an egg or some of that grilled chicken.
5. Upgraded Canned Soup
We do have a recipe on the site for this, but you don’t really need it and you can also apply the concept to other soups. The basic idea is you buy the healthiest canned soup you can find (watch the sodium), heat it up, and then add nutritious stuff to it. So if it’s black bean soup, you can throw leftover chicken, avocado, and fresh cilantro on it. Another hack: You can throw a handful of leafy greens into almost any hot canned soup and they’ll immediately wilt down and boost the nutrition.
6. Salmon and salad
Throw a hunk of salmon in a pan, and while it’s cooking, make a salad. Any salad. That’s it, really. In fact, you don’t even have to make a full salad. You could just serve it on a bed of arugula, like Keri.
7. Simple veggie-filled pasta
Pasta doesn’t scream healthy, but there are lots of healthier noodles out there now, like chickpea-based gluten-free options and whole wheat pasta made with ancient grains like Einkorn. The best part is: If you make a dish that is filled with tons of vegetables, it’ll keep the pasta portion in check. Some ideas: cherry tomatoes, spinach, and red onions, tossed with olive oil and red pepper flakes. Or broccoli rabe, shallots, and organic sausage. Also, if you made or bought pesto ahead, it adds flavor and nutrition to pasta in seconds.