How to Cook a Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less!

January 29, 2021

You’ve been working all day. Your family is hungry, and it’s getting late. And you have no idea what to make for dinner. Sound familiar? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m sharing my top 5 fast healthy dinner ideas!

Look, I know what it’s like to be overworked, overwhelmed, and low on time. But that doesn’t mean you have to run to McDonald’s and put processed, toxic food into your family’s bodies.

There are a few simple tips and tricks that I use in my kitchen every single day to help make sure I’m feeding my family quality food that are high in nutrients and low in effort. Interested? Keep reading to learn how you can incorporate some of my go-to methods and ensure you always have healthy meals on hand.


Dr. Pingel's Top 5 Fast Healthy Dinner Ideas

Here are five of my go-to tips for when you’re looking for fast healthy dinner ideas.

1. Stock up on versatile fruits and veggies.

If you’ve been with me on this journey for a while, my first of my top five fast healthy dinner ideas won’t be much of a surprise: Make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand. And the larger the variety, the better!

First, plants offer an abundance of health-promoting vitamins and minerals that you simple can’t get from other foods—and that includes both animal-based products and processed foods.

For example, studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet helps with both weight management and blood sugar control. Furthermore, it even provides metabolic and cardiovascular benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reversing atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque on the artery walls). [1]

But that’s not all. Studies have also shown that eating a plant-based diet produces a more diverse gut microbiome, which is known to help support overall health. [2]

And a 2017 study revealed that those who eat a whole-food, diet rich in fruits and vegetables demonstrated the least decline in their cognitive function, compared to people who ate other diets. Additionally, those who make the change to mostly plant-based diets can both slow down and even possibly reverse memory loss. [3, 4, 5]

Pretty incredible, right? But there’s another reason why stocking up on many fruits and veggies made my list of the top fast healthy dinner ideas: They’re so versatile! You can easily incorporate them into almost any meal.

Want a salad? Top it with some fruits and veggies. Need a quick side? Roast some vegetables in the oven (more to come on that in a few minutes!). Feeling cold? Use your veggies and a few herbs and spices to whip up a flavorful soup or stew. Craving dessert? Dig out that fruit as the base for a sweet treat.

The possibilities are endless and oh so simple—making weeknight dinner stress a thing of the past!

2. Prep ahead of time.

The next tip on the list of my favorite fast healthy dinner ideas is to prep your food ahead of time as much as possible.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to set aside time a little time on the weekend to pre-cut the vegetables and items I use most often throughout the week. That way, you can just grab them and get cooking on the night you plan to use them for dinner.

Think about all the time you spend chopping and slicing—and all the extra minutes that can add to your already-busy weeknights!

I tend to prep things like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and onions ahead of time. And I always make sure to have some kale or spinach on hand to throw in, too! Quick and easy.

3. Blend your way to extra flavor.

When it comes to fast healthy dinner ideas, this is my favorite—hands down! Get ready to become close friends with your blender.

That’s right—this appliance isn’t just for smoothies. I use my blender all the time to make flavorful health-promoting sauces for my family’s dinner.

One of my favorite sauces to make is a cashew cream. And it’s a great starting point, thanks to how easy it is and all the health benefits cashews provide.

In fact, did you know that cashews are a great source of zinc, which is commonly known as the “gatekeeper to the immune system” throughout the medical community? [6]

I begin by throwing some  cashews in the blender with a little water and letting them soak for 10 minutes while I chop my vegetables or prepare other items.

Next, I returned to the blender to throw in whatever spices I want (such as garlic and sea salt) and hit blend. In just a matter of seconds, I have a sauce to provide some extra creaminess and flavor to my dishes.

You can also do the same to make a vegan pesto. Just blend together some nuts, basil or sage, olive oil, and garlic and sit back and watch your family ask for seconds—and maybe even thirds!

Looking for specific recipes to follow? Check out some of my favorite go-to sauce recipes:

4. Utilize your oven more frequently.

Now, I get how easy it is to throw things in the microwave. But aside from not being great for your health, the microwave doesn’t deliver the flavor that your oven does.

And that’s why the next tip on my list of fast healthy dinner ideas is to use your oven. How? Start by just roast those vegetables you’ve already pre-cut.

This allows you to throw vegetables on a pan, cover them in a little bit of healthy oil and spices, and then step aside to do the other prep work for your meal.

It’s almost like having another set of hands because just 20 minutes later, you’ll have beautifully roasted vegetables to add to whatever dish you want.

5. Learn different variations of the same meal.

Well, we’ve made it—we’ve reached the last of my fast healthy dinner ideas. And this one is such a great trick: Learn different variations of the same meal.

So, what do I mean by this? If you’re used to having brown rice and vegetables, consider making a stir-fry with those ingredients. The variation? You can easily make 10 different meals based on the sauce you make.

Because you’re going to be experimenting with some of the sauces I listed above, you’re already ahead of the game! The best part? Many of the sauces I use on a regular basis take only three minutes to put together!

Alternatively, you can throw the rice in the rice cooker, sauté or roast your vegetables, and top with your favorite sauce.

Another option is to replace the rice with rice noodles on occasion. This allows you to make a similar meal with a set timeline but with mild changes. No one will ever know your new little secret–except you!


Fast healthy dinner ideas - Dr. Pingel


Key Takeaways

  • Figuring out fast healthy dinner ideas during the week can be difficult. And, as a result, many people are left picking up fast food or other unhealthy options.
  • Luckily, I've come up with a few quick tricks to help make dinnertime easy in my house on the weeknights.
  • A few of my top fast healthy dinner ideas include: having plenty of fruits and veggies on hand, prepping as much as I can ahead of time, using my blender to create flavorful sauces, use your oven to multitask, and learn different variations of the same meal.
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