Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, but it does help to have some key ingredients on hand, simple meal ideas, or meals already prepared for those nights when you come home tired and hungry. You obviously care enough to search out healthy meal ideas so don’t succumb, don’t throw the towel in and pop a frozen meal in the microwave just yet…
In this post you will learn how a little of planning (not a lot, I promise!), will keep you on track, eating healthy and feeling amazing like you deserve. So take a moment (grab a cup of tea if you like) and read on to discover how to always have your kitchen ready to create simple healthy meal ideas for dinner.
Simple Home Cooking
No microwave? No way! Yep, you read that correctly. I don’t have a microwave. I haven’t in over ten years. I don’t miss it. And I still manage to cook simple meals. I could go on about the health risks of microwaves, but for now I am focusing on the health benefits of cooking yourself a simple healthy meal. In fact, this whole website is dedicated to helping you do just that. I want to help you gain confidence in your kitchen skills and most of all to enjoy being in the kitchen.
Let’s look at the multitude of benefits from cooking for yourself:
1. Healthy – When you cook for yourself you get to choose the ingredients and can tweak recipes to fit your health needs. Your ingredients will most likely be cleaner (less processed and less preservatives).
2. Fresh – You get to source where your food comes from whether it is from local farms and farmers’ markets or just going to the grocery store and choosing the freshest ingredients. You can even start your own garden for herbs and veggies.
3. Cost Effective – When you cook a meal, you generally can make more servings for less money. Many times the ingredients you use for one meal will also last for more meals. You are getting more food for your dollar than you would buying frozen meals or going out to dinner. A simple way to look at this is going out for ice-cream vs. buying a quart of ice-cream and a package of cones. You get way more for the second option. (Even if you buy the most expensive and highest quality ice-cream!!) Saving money and more healthy = WIN, WIN!!
4. Better for the Environment – Think of how much goes into creating a prepackaged meal, the shipping of food to a facility that processes and cooks the food, then packages and ships it off again only to be re-cooked by you! Also, if you buy locally sourced food, you are save on shipping, processing and packaging pollution.
5. Intrinsic Value – The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment you gain from creating a beautiful home-cooked meal is uplifting and in a sense a spiritual experience.
You are what you eat! In light of the benefits listed above consider these famous food quotes:
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
“Man is what he eats.” ~ Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach
Prepackaged, pre-made? Or, made with love… by you?
What to Keep “On-Hand” – Benefits of a Well-Stocked Kitchen
We’re human! And with that comes the fact that we are not always going to be ready with a plan or even have the desire to carry out a plan. So true when it comes to cooking your dinner. Maybe you get home later than expected. Or maybe, you had an exhausting day or you don’t feel like eating what you planned to make.
Believe me, I’m not here to judge if you want to throw a quick frozen dinner in the oven or heat something up in the microwave…we all need that from time to time!
If you don’t want to get in the habit of doing so, then it’s a really good idea to keep certain foods stocked up in your kitchen. This will help you immensely when you want to cook something up, haven’t necessarily planned it out, but still want to eat something made by your own two hands.
Here is a list of common ingredients that will help you throw together a simple healthy dinner at the last minute:
- rice and beans
- garlic, onions, carrots, celery
- assorted meats (kept in freezer)
- sauces – tomato, curry, coconut milk, marinades
- tortillas, bread, rolls (can be frozen to last longer)
The more time you spend cooking the more you will learn what you want to have stocked no matter what.
Meal Prepping To Save Time – Make A Plan
I can’t stress enough about how life happens and things we want to do get pushed aside for so many reasons. There just never seems to be enough time, so how do we go about dealing with that and actually fulfilling our goals and dreams? Let’s start by working to accomplish our cooking goals.
Use these three strategies:
- Keep certain foods well-stocked in your pantry and refrigerator – Use the list above as a guide to help you stock up on key ingredients. Don’t wait until you run out of something to replace it!! As soon as you are on your last (or maybe even second to last) can of whatever, put it on your grocery list and re-stock before it’s gone completely!
- Make weekly or monthly meals plans so you have ideas ready – Using a simple weekly meal planner calendar, list or app; write out meal ideas for the week or month. Remember to keep it simple unless you really want an elaborate dinner for a special occasion. Don’t be afraid to be repetitive. I usually have about 3 nights per week that we have the same exact meal on that day because it works well with what we have scheduled. For instance, Wednesday nights I take my son to a youth group and have to be fed and out the door by 5:45 so it’s taco night, a dinner that is simple for me.
- Prep and freeze what you can – If I make a chicken curry, I will double or triple the ingredients and freeze the extras in separate containers. That way I can pull a container out of the freezer in the morning or afternoon, when I realize I don’t feel like cooking! Voila! I din’t have to resort to fast food!!
Simple, Healthy Dinner Ideas
Here are few basic meals to put on your meal plan. The idea here is to go thru these dinners and recognize that the ingredients to make these meals are the items you would want to stock regularly.
Roasted Chicken With Root Veggies – This is healthy and easy because you can put everything in one roasting pan, pop it in the oven, add an easy salad and rolls if you like and you have a healthy hearty meal.
Pasta with Meat Sauce – While you are cooking your noodles, heat up sauce and brown some ground beef. Throw some greens in the sauce or toss a salad.
Pizza – You can use pre-made crusts (store some extra in the freezer). Add your favorite sauce and toppings and stick it in the oven.
Hamburgers – BBQ hamburgers and throw some homemade fries in the oven to roast.
Tacos – Saute some meat with taco seasoning, cook rice and/or beans and warm your tortillas in the oven.
Curry – Cook favorite meat or tofu, heat up with coconut milk and a curry sauce, add potatoes, garlic, onion, and veggies and serve over rice.
Soup – An easy one pot meal with broth, water, onions, garlic, seasonings, veggies and meat simmered on stove-top or use slow-cooker.
Utilize your freezer space to the max! You can have lots of assorted meats in your freezer. When you make hamburgers, you can make a batch of meatballs to freeze. You can also freeze pizza crusts, bread, sauces and even cheese, butter and milk.
* Remember to leave an inch or two of space when freezing anything in glass jars!!
There are many benefits to cooking for yourself.
Have a good amount of staple foods stocked up.
Plan your meals ahead.
When you have extra time, prepare enough food for two-three meals at a time to freeze for those nights you don’t feel like cooking.
Utilize every inch of freezer space.
I hope you found some helpful tips in this post! I look forward to sharing more with you. As always, leave a comment, ask a question or just say hello in the comment section below.
Can’t wait to see you In The Kitchen With Me!!
4 thoughts on “Simple Healthy Meal Ideas For Dinner”
Good stuff, thank you. You write in such a way that it makes me want to throw a slow cooker meal together full of lush meat. Yum yum
Thank you! I’m hoping to motivate people, sometimes all you need is an idea!
Living in a fast-paced society, most people either do not have time to cook (or are lazy to cook) upon getting home from work. So, what do they do? Stock up their pantry and freezer with ready-made meals that they can just throw into the microwave.
But for me, I prefer home-cooked meals because they are healthier. Our family eats out once in a while or when we want to celebrate something but most of the time, we prepare our meals and eat at home. The downside is that we run out of recipes or we do not know exactly what we want to eat. ☺.
You are right; it’s important to create a meal plan for at least a week. And then when we go to the grocery, we know what items to buy.
Thanks for these helpful tips.
I’m right there with you! I love cooking and eating at home for the most part. And for me choosing what to cook is definitely the hardest part about cooking for a family.
I’m glad you found some of my tips helpful!