To cook a healthy dinner, pick a portion each of protein, carb, fat and veggies! Try Tortellini Pesto: Heat some oil in a skillet. Start by cooking the cubed chicken breast in the oil. Throw in some tortellini and add a dash of pesto sauce. Finally, toss in California blend veggies. Check out the other 7 food combinations and have fun experimenting with different combos!
You’re done with your work day and your stomach is growling! At this point, thinking about what to cook for dinner can be quite a task.
People usually tend to think that being a dietitian-nutritionist helps me whip up an ultra-healthy dinner for the family every night. Newsflash! Being a nutritionist doesn’t exempt me from exhaustion, stress or a never ending to-do list. My solution is finding things that are super easy to prepare and that take little thought (because my brain ceases to function at the end of the day).
I try planning a shopping list and sticking to it. At least 1-2 nights a week, I default to my “never the same thing twice” skillet meal. So, what I mean is that I make sure I get in some protein, healthy fats, healthy carbs and plenty of veggies, with whatever I can find. It is never the exact same combination twice.
How to Make a DIY Skillet Meal
First, choose your ingredients. Start by choosing 1 portion from each of the following food lists. You can combine different selections from each group. For example, you can split the veggie portion between different types of veggies.
Note: In the amounts listed, most of these will feed a family of 4. You can adjust the portions to meet the needs and size of your family. Just keep the ratio of ingredients about the same.
Protein – 1 pound
- Ground turkey/beef (90/10 or less)
- Boneless skinless chicken breast
- Canned tuna
- Steak strips
- Meatballs (made with lean beef/turkey)
- Eggs (preferably a high omega-3 egg)
- Chicken/turkey sausage
- Tofu or other vegetarian meat alternative
- Skip the protein & add a little extra of the other ingredients
Carb – 3-4 cups
- 100% whole grain penne or rotini pasta
- Brown rice/quinoa/couscous/barley
- Potatoes; sweet, red skinned, or regular
- Beans, any type
Fat- serving as listed
- Olive/canola oil, 3-4 tbsp
- Avocado, ¼- ½ small avocado per person
- Nuts- ½ cup
- Cheese/cream- choose less often & in moderation
Sauce/seasoning as needed, being mindful of sodium
- Dry seasoning blend/herbs
- Spaghetti/marinara sauce
- Pesto sauce (also contains fat)
- Marinade/sauce (may contain fat)
Veggies- 6-8 Cups
- Any fresh non-starchy veggie
- Any frozen non starchy veggie
- Start cooking the carb 1st as it may need time to cook.
- Heat the oil in a skillet or use an oil mist.
- Cook the protein in the skillet with any seasonings, herbs, garlic, etc.
- When the carb is ready, add it to the skillet (optional to keep the carb on the side)
- Stir in veggies & additional sauce/seasoning and cook until veggies are desired texture.
9 Healthy & Delicious Skillet Meal Combinations
- Southwest Skillet Meal: Ground turkey + beans and quinoa/rice + jar of salsa + carrots and onion, and avocado on the side.
- Tortellini Pesto: Cubed chicken breast + tortellini + pesto sauce + California blend veggies.
- Parmesan & Shrimp: Shrimp + penne pasta + olive oil + garlic (fresh or powder) + fresh parmesan + mushrooms and broccoli.
- Fajitas: Chicken/beef strips + fajita seasoning + peppers and onions + avocado on the side + corn tortillas to hold the meat and veggies.
- Turkey Potato Surprise: Ground turkey + olive oil + chopped potatoes (cook in microwave until 75% done before chopping) + frozen green beans + a mix of light salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Healthy Stir-Fry: Shrimp or cubed chicken + olive oil and/or almonds + stir-fry blend veggies + rice on the side or mixed in.
- Skillet Spaghetti: Ground turkey/beef + rotini/penne pasta + spaghetti sauce + mushrooms and zucchini + olive oil or cheese.
- Healthier Tuna Helper: Canned tuna + 100% whole wheat noodles + cream of mushroom soup (preferably reduced-fat/reduced sodium) + chopped celery, onions and carrots + a small salad on the side for more veggies.
- Breakfast for Dinner: 1/2 pound chicken sausage and 6 eggs + diced potatoes + mushrooms, peppers and onions + shredded cheese on top and/or sliced avocado on the side.