Are you too tired by dinnertime to cook you or your family a healthy meal? It’s possible you just haven’t found the right meals to cook yet. The nice thing about 20-minute meals? They don’t take long to make — and definitely won’t take long to eat. And if you live alone or with only one other person, there is likely going to be plenty of leftovers to save you even more time tomorrow.
Many people struggle to prepare healthy meals because they simply do not think they have time. That’s because most people don’t take the time to plan ahead, which can save you hours of time every single evening of the week.
There are a lot of steps to meal prep, but they aren’t complicated. The first and most important step is to choose quick and easy recipes you can actually make — and ones you want to eat, too. To get you started, here are a few healthy recipes you can put together and have on the table (or counter, or coffee table, or couch) within just 20 minutes or less.
Orange Chicken with Peas and Asparagus — 20 minutes
If you’re craving orange chicken, skip takeout and dare trying to make your own. Mixing flavored grilled chicken with vegetables provides enough protein and fiber to keep you far away from the pantry between the hours of dinner and bedtime.
- 2 oranges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Four 5-ounce chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 ounces snow peas
- 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
Juice 1 orange (1/4 cup juice). Peel the other orange and slice.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook on skillet until one side is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn to the other side, reduce to medium heat, and add garlic. Stir the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add orange juice and cook 1 more minute. Add water and simmer. Then add peas and asparagus, cover, and cook 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add in orange slices, lemon juice, and dill. Serve hot.
Grilled Eggplant and Red Pepper Sandwich — 10 minutes
For our plant-based eaters, grilled vegetables provide just as much protein as lean meat probably would on the same sandwich. Sandwiches are extremely quick and easy to throw together, and they’re relatively portable, too. Enjoy a side of baked sweet potato wedges or a fresh green salad.
- 1 eggplant (medium)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 4 ciabatta rolls
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 4 roasted red peppers (medium)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat grill to medium. Brush eggplant with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant (covered) 2 to 3 minutes on both sides or until tender.
Spread pesto on each of the rolls and stack eggplant, cheese, and peppers to create sandwiches. Serve with a salad or grilled vegetables.
Tomato and Chickpea Salad with Orange — 15 minutes
Chickpeas aren’t just for hummus lovers. With a little toasting, they take on a bean-like texture. And with a little orange zest added in, just like this recipe, they adopt a bold flavor you will want to continue eating long after tonight’s serving of salad is gone.
- 1 orange
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1/2 sweet onion (small)
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a medium bowl, grate 2 teaspoons orange zest. Add couscous and toss until combined. Pour in 1 cup water, cover, and let sit 12 minutes.
While that sits, over a large bowl, peel the orange, cut into segments, and squeeze out remaining juice. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, and olives and mix until combined. Add to couscous and serve.
Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes — 15 minutes
Tuna — especially canned solid white tuna in water — is one of the healthiest sources of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein you will find. Many people who do not like the taste of fish find tuna not only tolerable, but flavorful and delicious.
- 4 tomatoes (large)
- 2 cans solid white tuna
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
Cut a thin slice off the bottom and a 1/4-inch slice off the top of each tomato. Set aside (do not throw away!). Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. On a cutting board, chop tomato bottoms and pulp and put them in a bowl.
Add tuna, celery, capers, vinegar, and pepper to the bowl and toss to combine. Add parsley.
Spoon tuna mixture into hollow tomatoes, replace tops, and serve.
Mozzarella Zucchini Frittata — 20 minutes
Everyone knows breakfast for dinner just tastes better than breakfast for breakfast. So the next time you are in the mood for eggs after 6 p.m., consider a healthy frittata. Mozzarella cheese is a healthy source of protein, and cooked vegetables add fiber and essential vitamins to the mix.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped
- 7 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Preheat broiler with rack in upper third of the oven.