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.