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22 healthy, quick and easy dinner ideas

It’s been a long day. Maybe you worked late and have less time than you anticipated to make dinner. Maybe you’ve got a last-minute dinner date. Maybe your family’s dinner plans fell through. No one wants feel like they’re scrambling to get something on the table.

So, for the busy bees, the “I don’t want to even think about dinner” people and the parents with ravenous families to feed, we gathered up our quickest, easiest dinner ideas to meet everyone’s needs.

Explore the best ways to get a nourishing and satisfying dinner on the table in less than 30 (or even 20!) minutes. These healthy dinner ideas for one, two or ten will come to the rescue — even when that takeout menu on the fridge tempts you.

Put the “fish” in efficient

Roasted Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Courtesy Matt Armendariz

This is one of Gaby Dalkin’s favorite summer dinner — and for good reason. The light, buttery protein gets a healthy boost from a zesty avocado and mango salsa. What’s even better is that you can serve six people in just 30 minutes, from start to finish.

Spicy Italian Mackerel Spaghetti

Courtesy Stephanie Harris-Uyidi

As a member of the tuna family, mackerel is a delectable, yet underrated fish that deserves more attention! A firm, high-fat fleshed fish, it’s known for its bold, savory flavor. Tinned mackerel is popular throughout the Mediterranean in places like Italy, where it’s referred to as sgombro, and tastes incredible in this luscious 30-minute pasta dish.

Ginger-Soy Shrimp with Broccolini and Soba Noodles

Judy Joo

Shrimp don’t need much dressing up to be tasty. Here, a simple marinade and quick sauté yields a deeply flavorful and perfectly cooked result. The crunchy broccolini and earthy soba noodles are a great complement to the naturally sweeter shellfish.

Grilled Miso-Glazed Salmon with Broccolini Salad

Nathan Congleton

This dish is so full of flavor and healthy at the same time. White miso adds delicate sweetness while upping the umami flavors of fresh salmon. The crunchy, caramelized broccolini is a perfect foil to the tender grilled fish.

Salmon Sloppy Joes

Courtesy Stephanie Harris-Uyidi

A savory salmon burger (made with canned fish!) is a crowd-pleaser that tastes like a gourmet dinner treat. It’s hard to tell that it’s a quick prep and takes hardly any effort at all to get onto the table.

Citrus Baked Cod

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Perhaps you already mastered the art of grilling flaky fish perfectly, but sometimes a foolproof method suits the mood. This simple recipe calls upon the citrus, parsley and onion to infuse the cod with a zesty sweetness that’s hard to beat.

Valerie Bertinelli's One-Pan Salmon with Broccoli and Cauliflower

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

One-pan wonders are one of the best respites from a busy day. You just put the fresh salmon and crisp veggies on a baking sheet, season everything and pop it in the oven to roast. In just 20 minutes, you’ve got a nourishing dinner for the whole family and only one pan to clean.

Eat less meat with ease

Chana Masala

Samah Dada

Samah Dada makes this Indian staple a bit lighter than it is traditionally prepared. The result is a fast and easy vegan dinner recipe for two, four or however many people are at the table tonight.

Giada's Sheet-Pan Eggplant Parmesan

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

A healthier and simplified version of eggplant Parmesan is a perfect fit for a weeknight meal. Using Japanese eggplants shortens the prep time because you don’t have to draw out the moisture with salt (like regular eggplants) for 20 to 30 minutes first.

Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

Noah Fecks

This recipe achieves that wonderful double bonus of being quick to make and quick to reheat. Portobellos are filling while also fulfilling any dietary restrictions; they cook quickly and add a meaty flavor (plus they hold up in the freezer like a dream). In 15 minutes, you’ll have a wonderful dinner (or side dish) set to go.

Sheet Pan Aloo Gobi

Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

Aloo gobi is a fulfilling combo of potatoes and cauliflower sautéed in spices. It’s simple to put together, pretty hands off and its flavor to ease ratio is off the charts. Also, these hearty vegetables are truly exceptional at absorbing and enhancing seasonings.

Speedy Skillet Ravioli Lasagna

Dylan James Ho and Jeni Afuso

Thanks to a little help from a package of frozen ravioli, you can pull a skillet of toasty, bubbly lasagna from the oven in a little more than half an hour. In this ingenious one-pan supper, make a tomato sauce right in the same skillet used to bake the whole thing.

Sheet Pan Vegetable Coconut Curry Rice

Jerrelle Guy

When this one-pan wonder comes out of the oven, the onions will be caramelized, the raisins will be plump, the veggies will be tender and the room will fill with the smell of what Jerrelle Guy likes to call “sheet-pan potpourri.” Before everyone starts digging in, make sure to hit it with a heavy sprinkling of chopped cilantro and a nice squeeze of lemon.

Katie Lee's Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

Lucy Schaeffer

Enjoy the creamy, satisfying notes of spinach-artichoke dip but in one 20-minute pasta dinner. You can count on frozen spinach and jarred artichoke hearts to make this simply delicious meal shine.

Cook protein like a pro

Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs with Broccolini

Patricia Niven

Chicken and ricotta meatballs are lighter than their beefy counterparts and don’t require a lot of work. Baking skips the time and mess of browning on the stovetop and leaves you with one mixing bowl and sheet pan to clean at the end — and, most importantly, 20 delicious meatballs to savor with a side of crisped broccoli.

Steak and Veggies with Zesty Chimichurri

Jennifer Causey / Cooking Light August 2017

Folks at the table may think you’ve labored away in the kitchen for hours on this restaurant-worthy steak dinner. But, in actuality, it requires only five fresh ingredients and takes 20 minutes to make. The cilantro chimichurri adds a summery pop to the grilled tenderloin, juicy yellow squash and crispy potatoes.

Baked Eggs in Spiced Tomato Sauce (Shakshuka)

Getty Images stock

Eggs are a great protein to enjoy some protein at dinner time when you’re not trying to fuss too much over a big roast. In this simple shakshuka, the sauce and yolk combined make a glorious dipping sauce for crusty toast.

Valerie Bertinelli's Sheet-Pan Vinegar Chicken


The sweet tomatoes beautifully balance the bracing acidity of the tangy sherry vinegar and briny olives in this easy chicken dinner that has a bright pop of flavor in every bite.

Sheet Pan Chicken Parm with Garlic Bread and Broccoli

Elena Besser

People who love chicken Parm know that it, like lasagna, is a wonderfully satisfying recipe that requires a lot of work. The process of breading the chicken, frying in oil and finishing everything in the oven can be an exhausting feat. Not this recipe! Tender chicken smothered in sauce and mozzarella, a healthy veggie side dish and garlic bread: It just takes one sheet-pan but has all the goodness.

Cumin-Roasted Pork Chops and Brussels Sprouts

Christopher Testani for The New York Times

The best part about this dish is all the different textures! The sage chips and cumin seeds give this recipe such a great crunch and bursts of flavor. The secret to perfect pork lies in the resting period, so it reabsorbs all the juices.

Sheet Pan Kimchi Fried Rice with Baked Eggs

Hetty McKinnon

Yes, that’s right: “Frying” rice in the oven is not only possible, it actually produces the perfect amount of crisping. As with all sheet pan recipes, it’s the perfect throw-it-in-the-oven dish — simply toss your cold rice with veggies, kimchi and seasonings, spread it all onto a sheet pan and let a hot oven do all the work.

Sheet-Pan Roast Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

The spicy harissa, sweet pomegranate, crunchy walnuts and fresh mint distinguish this roast chicken from the typical rosemary, sage and thyme poultry seasoning. Also, the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to make, which makes it an easy dinner idea that’s as quick as it is comforting.