Meal planning can be very helpful when trying to eat healthy.
Having a list of go-to meals that are both nutritious and easy to make can save you time and money, especially when the recipes use pantry staples or long-lasting ingredients that you likely have on hand.
Here’s are 28 easy and healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, including some kid-friendly and low budget options.
1. Overnight oats
Overnight oats are an easy breakfast option that requires no prep time in the morning. Plus, they’re made with basic ingredients that won’t break the bank.
Oats are also a good source of beta glucan fiber, which may help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
There are tons of overnight oat recipes on the internet.
2. Loaded avocado toast
Avocado toast can be a nutritious breakfast, as avocados are a good source of healthy fats and very filling.
Start with a toasted slice of 100% whole grain, rye, or sourdough bread. In a small bowl, smash together half of an avocado with some lime or lemon juice. Spread this on top of the toast.
For a protein boost, add one or two eggs, or smash white beans into the avocado for a vegan option. Top with crumbled cheese, chopped nuts, seeds, baby greens, or cherry tomatoes.
3. Broccoli and cheese egg bake
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, as well as several vitamins and minerals that are important for health.
Make this 12-serving egg bake in advance, and enjoy nutritious leftovers all week long for hassle-free mornings.
It’s a reader favorite on my recipe blog and highly customizable. Feel free to add sliced bell peppers, chopped spinach, or mushrooms, and sub any type of cheese or milk you have on hand.
4. Yogurt and fruit parfaits
Yogurt provides calcium, an important mineral for strong bones, making it a great addition to your breakfast.
Yogurt parfaits are enjoyable for both kids and adults, and you don’t even need a specific recipe to make them.
If you have some time in the morning, set out Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, nuts, and seeds for your family to make their own parfaits. To keep the added sugar content low, use plain yogurt and granola that doesn’t contain a lot of sweeteners.
You can also prep the parfaits in advance. Put them together in individual jars and keep them in the fridge.
5. Chocolate cherry chia pudding
With only a handful of ingredients, chia pudding is a simple but filling option for breakfast. The best part is that you can put the recipe together at night and wake up to a creamy and delicious pudding the next morning.
What’s more, chia seeds are loaded with antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants help fight reactive molecules called free radicals, which damage cells and may lead to disease.
Chia pudding can be made in many variations, but this chocolate cherry chia pudding is one of my favorites.
6. Bell pepper egg cups
For a simple, veggie-loaded breakfast, slice bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems and seeds. Place them into a greased baking dish and cook them for 15 minutes at 350°F (175°C).
Remove the dish from the oven and carefully crack an egg into each pepper. Bake them for an additional 15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Garnish with herbs, red pepper flakes, or cheese before eating.
Two pepper halves, each filled with an egg, comprise one serving. Not only will you get protein from the eggs, but bell peppers are a great source of nutrients that support immunity, such as vitamins A and C .
Note that cooking can destroy vitamin C. Therefore, a shorter cooking time is preferable when trying to preserve vitamin C content.
7. Peanut butter granola bars
Instead of settling for a store-bought option that might be loaded with added sugar, give homemade granola bars a try. Making them at home can save you money, too.
This recipe for peanut butter granola bars is easy to make and kid-friendly. Plus, it includes tips on making them vegan.
Studies suggest that the compounds found in peanuts can block the absorption of cholesterol from the diet, which may benefit those with high cholesterol levels that put them at an increased risk of heart disease.
8. Italian pasta salad
Pasta salad can be a balanced, nutritious meal. It’s often made with cooked pasta, non-starchy vegetables, and meat, cheese, or beans.
Plus, pasta salad is served cold and keeps well in the fridge and lunch boxes.
Check out this Italian pasta salad for a healthy, affordable option. Add diced chicken, mozzarella cheese, or white beans for some protein, and use 100% whole wheat pasta for extra fiber.
The olive oil in the dressing is also loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
9. Slow cooker lentil soup
“Dump and go” slow cooker meals are an easy option for lunches. Make them on the weekend to eat for lunch during the week, or throw together the ingredients in the morning to have a hot meal by lunchtime.
This crockpot lentil soup is loaded with veggies and uses pantry spices and ingredients.
What’s more, lentils are a source of plant-based protein and fiber, which will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
10. Peanut butter and banana roll-ups
Peanut butter and banana is a winning culinary combo, and these roll-ups are great for kids.
Bananas are also one of the best dietary sources of potassium, a mineral that contributes to healthy blood pressure.
Spread about 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of peanut butter on top of an 8-inch (20-cm) flour tortilla. Place a peeled banana toward the bottom of the tortilla, then carefully roll it up.
Slice it into bite-sized pieces. For a peanut-free option, use sunflower seed butter. If you want a little more sweetness, add a drizzle of honey on top of the peanut butter before rolling the tortilla.
11. Sweet potato black bean meal prep bowls
Taco or burrito bowls make a healthy lunch that’s easy to assemble.
Prepare the ingredients ahead of time, store them in separate containers in the fridge, and assemble your bowl when you’re ready to eat.
My sweet potato black bean meal prep bowls are made with nutritious ingredients and topped with an easy avocado lime dressing.
The healthy fats in the avocado will help you absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as the vitamin A carotenoids in sweet potatoes, from the meal.
12. Healthy tuna salad with cranberries
Canned tuna is a budget-friendly ingredient to keep in your pantry for quick meals.
It’s also rich in protein and healthy fats that will keep you full and satisfied.
This healthy tuna salad with cranberries has super simple ingredients and can be served on bread, crackers, or even lettuce cups.
13. Veggie quesadillas
Veggie quesadillas are one of the easiest recipes to make, and they’re a good way to get kids to eat more veggies. Eating vegetables is linked to a lower risk of disease and longer life.
You can use sliced onions and peppers, or any kind of leftover roasted or sautéed veggies that you have on hand.
Place a flour or corn tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle one half with shredded cheese, then add veggies and more cheese on top. Cook it for a few minutes, with the lid on the skillet, until the cheese is melted.
Fold the half of the tortilla without cheese over the other half. Remove it from the skillet, slice it into pieces, and enjoy it with guacamole, salsa, or sour cream. Feel free to add beans or chicken for more protein.
14. Fridge/freezer stir-fry
Making a stir-fry with ingredients you already have is an easy way to put a healthy meal on the table fast.
Stir-fries typically consist of protein, non-starchy veggies, and a carbohydrate, such as rice or noodles. Therefore, they’re balanced meals that will keep you full.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet or wok. Add diced chicken, sliced sirloin steak, shrimp, or tofu. Cook it for a few minutes on each side until it’s cooked through. Remove it from the skillet and set it aside.
Add 2–3 cups (300–450 grams) of veggies to the skillet with a little more oil. Cook it for a few minutes, and add the protein back into the pan.
For the sauce, whisk 1/4 cup (60 mL) of vegetable broth, 1/4 cup (60 mL) of low sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of maple syrup or honey, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the skillet, and cook it until it thickens.
This should yield approximately four servings. Serve it with brown rice or whole wheat noodles if desired.
15. Baked potato bar with healthy toppings
Baked potatoes are one of the most affordable bases for a healthy meal. Plus, potatoes are incredibly nutritious, providing potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins B6 and C.
Since they provide energizing carbs, top them with a source of protein, some non-starchy veggies, and a healthy fat for a balanced meal.
Check out several ideas on how to build a healthy baked potato bar for a family meal.
16. Caprese chicken breasts
For a delicious meal that’s on the table in 30 minutes, try chicken breasts made with caprese salad ingredients — tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
This recipe includes instructions for making them in a single skillet. Make some pasta while they cook — or better yet, ahead of time — and you’ll have a balanced meal in no time.
The chicken provides filling protein. Plus, tomatoes are a source of lycopene, an antioxidant compound that boosts heart health.
17. Sheet pan pork chops and sweet potatoes
Sheet pan meals are the epitome of hassle-free cooking. Plus, they make cleanup a breeze.
This healthy sheet pan meal features pork chops, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, and pantry spices for a wholesome and balanced meal. The leftovers make a great lunch the next day, too.
Pork contains an abundance of nutrients, including selenium, an essential mineral that’s necessary for healthy reproduction and thyroid function.
18. Healthy mac and cheese (with veggies)
Mac and cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, and adding veggies to it brings the nutrition up a notch.
Making mac and cheese from scratch also means that you can control the ingredients and avoid excess sodium or unnecessary additives.
This healthy mac and cheese is kid-friendly and features both zucchini and cauliflower. It contains carbs from pasta, vitamins and minerals from veggies, and protein and fat from the cheese.
19. Taco salad
Taco salad is another recipe that you can prep in advance and assemble when you’re ready to eat.
Combine chopped romaine, cooked ground beef with taco seasoning, sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado or guacamole, shredded cheese, and pinto or black beans. Fun additions include sliced radishes, cooked corn, or crushed tortilla chips.
For a simple and healthy dressing, thin plain Greek yogurt with lime juice and drizzle it over the salad. Greek yogurt contributes some additional protein and calcium.
20. Slow cooker beef and broccoli
Beef and broccoli is a popular take-out dish that you can easily make at home with wholesome ingredients for a more affordable price.
Not to mention, it can be made in the slow cooker, which means there will be minimal cleanup.
Plus, beef is packed with iron, which is vital for red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body, and vitamin B12, which helps your body produce red blood cells.
Check out this slow cooker beef and broccoli recipe served over quinoa for a healthy meal.
21. Easy chickpea curry
Homemade curry is an easy vegetarian meal that’s perfect for busy nights. It’s incredibly flavorful, and you may even have all of the ingredients in your cupboard.
Chickpeas, a source of plant-based protein, fiber, and micronutrients, may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.
22. One-pot teriyaki chicken zoodles
You can’t beat a one-pot meal for an easy and healthy dinner, especially when it’s loaded with veggies.
These one-pot teriyaki chicken zoodles feature spiralized zucchini as a base, and they’re coated in a homemade teriyaki sauce.
Chicken breasts contribute filling protein, while pineapple chunks add some natural sweetness, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
23. Salmon burgers with slaw
Figuring out how to add more fish to your diet can be intimidating, but this recipe using canned salmon makes it a lot easier.
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Omega-3s help boost brain health and prevent heart-disease-linked plaque buildup in the arteries.
Besides the salmon, these burgers have very basic ingredients and are easy enough for even the busiest of nights. Plus, they’re served over a cabbage slaw that counts as your veggies for the meal.
24. One-pot stewed tomatoes and eggs
Grab a can of tomatoes, some pantry spices, and a few eggs, and you’ll have a healthy meal in no time.
Tomatoes have several beneficial compounds that may help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and even some cancers.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a diced onion, a few minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder.
Cook it for a few minutes until fragrant. Pour a 28-ounce (790-gram) can of whole peeled tomatoes into the skillet. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-low until the tomatoes break down. Create wells for four eggs with the back of a spoon.
Carefully crack an egg into each well, cover the skillet, and cook until the eggs set. Enjoy warm with pita bread. This makes two servings.
25. Lentil bolognese
Pasta and sauce has always been a simple dinner combination, but I like to increase the nutrition of this meal by making a bolognese from lentils.
Eating lentils has been associated with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, thanks to the health-promoting bioactive compounds they contain.
Follow this recipe for lentil bolognese and serve it over pasta for a hearty, vegan dish. You can eat it with a side salad or steamed green beans for some extra veggies.
26. Make-ahead turkey meatballs
Turkey meatballs are a nutritious and versatile option to make in advance. You can serve them over pasta or on sandwiches or salads.
These easy make-ahead and freeze turkey meatballs use pantry staples, including old fashioned oats instead of bread crumbs, and they can be made with either fresh or dried herbs.
Turkey not only provides filling protein but also contains iron, phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins .
27. Caramelized onion and spinach grilled cheese
An upgraded grilled cheese is ideal for an easy dinner that will satisfy the whole family.
I love to make this recipe when I have extra caramelized onions on hand (they freeze really well, by the way) and spinach that I need to use.
What’s more, onions are a source of quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound that may help lower high blood pressure.
Spread butter on one side of two slices of 100% whole grain or sourdough bread. Place one slice, buttered side down, in a skillet over medium heat. Top with a slice of cheese, followed by caramelized onions, a few spinach leaves, and another slice of cheese.
Put the other slice of bread, buttered side up, on top. Cover the skillet, and cook for a few minutes on each side until the cheese is melted. Enjoy warm.
28. Easy black bean and rice skillet
For a satisfying dinner that never disappoints, break out the trusty skillet and make this twist on rice and beans.
With just a handful of ingredients, it’s easy and highly nutritious. Black beans provide protein, brown rice contributes carbs, and shredded cheese serves as a source of fat, calcium, and protein. Plus, it has tomatoes and red onion.
article from healthline