17 Weeknight Dinners That Registered Dietitians Actually Cook

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17 Weeknight Dinners That Registered Dietitians Actually Cook

On the one hand, dinnertime is often the highlight of a weekday. It’s when you get to stop thinking about work, put on your comfy clothes, and maybe spend some quality time with friends or family. Also: food. On the other hand, coming up with fast, easy recipe ideas that are also delicious and healthy can sometimes make dinner feel like less of a pleasure and more of an extra stress.

To help you out, we asked some of our favorite R.D.s about their go-to weeknight dinner recipes. They spend the majority of their days talking about healthy food and good eating habits, so they’re experts on what qualifies as a well-rounded, satisfying dinner. But also, they’re busy people who don’t always have a ton of time to cook during the week. Below are some of their tried-and-true dinner ideas.

1. EASY KALE TACO SALAD WITH BLACK BEANS AND SOYRIZO

“Simple dinners are always the best. I love this Easy Kale Taco Salad recipe because it takes minutes to prepare and it’s filling as all hell. It also makes me feel warm and cozy inside knowing that I’m nourishing my body with all those vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

—Jessica Jones, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., cofounder of Food Heaven Made Easy and co-author of the 28-Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot

2. QUINOA ENCHILADA DIP

“Quinoa enchilada dip…say what?! Those were my exact words when my BFF and business partner posted this recipe on our healthy eating Web site, Food Heaven Made Easy. I immediately made it for dinner that week, and it’s been a part of my healthy dinner repertoire ever since. I love that it’s balanced with complex carbs, protein, veggies, and fats. Plus, there are chips involved.”

Jessica Jones

3. SORGHUM PESTO BOWL

I’m a huge fan of whole grain bowls. They are my go-to for simple and quick weeknight dinners. This version uses sorghum but you can also make it with another whole grain like farro, quinoa, or barley. I use canned beans for protein to make things super fast, or you can quickly cook up some lentils. Paired with veggies and olive oil you have a well-balanced meal with fiber, protein, and healthy fat. I like to make enough for three or four meals and use leftovers for lunch.

—Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness

4. PALEO BARBECUE CHICKEN CASSEROLE

“This is one of my favorite weeknight recipes. I love that it’s a paleo recipe so uses very “clean” ingredients- the spaghetti squash is filling but low calorie and it’s packed with protein from the chicken and eggs. And I like anything with a kick, so the peppers in this recipe are perfect! It’s also super easy to prep and is great as leftovers too!”

Brittany Kohn, R.D.

5. VEGAN JAMBALAYA

When I want something flavorful, comforting, and vegan, this Creole Vegan Jambalaya is one of my go-to dinner dishes. I was inspired to develop this recipe during Mardi Gras; but it’s delicious to my tastebuds any time of the year!

Jackie Newgent, R.D., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook

6. SLOW COOKER HAWAIIAN SHREDDED CHICKEN

“I either make this on the weekend to reheat later in the week, or if I didn’t plan ahead, I make it in the Instant Pot. Even on busy weeknights it’s so easy, and there are directions for both methods in the recipe. I wrap mine in chard leaves with avocado and veggies, and my kids like theirs over rice with diced cucumbers, shredded carrots and slivered almonds.”

—Jessica Beacom, R.D., blogger at The Real Food Dietitians


READ MORE > 12 SLOW COOKER CHICKEN DINNER UNDER 370 CALORIES


7. INSTANT POT SWEET POTATO CHICKEN CURRY

“The Instant Pot makes this curry dish unbelievably quick and flavorful. Serve it over cauliflower rice for a hearty meal that’s even more delicious the next day.”

Jessica Beacom

8. BEST-EVER TURKEY MEATBALLS

“I always find myself making turkey meatballs once a week because they are versatile, healthy, and delicious! Dinner is a snap later in the week when I freeze half the batch I whip up. They’re also a great vehicle for sneaking in veggies such as spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. These turkey meatballs are simmered in beer on the stovetop for an extra special flavor, but they are also delicious when baked in the oven.”

—Lindsey Pine, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D, C.L.T, owner of Tasty Balance Nutrition

9. STIR-FRIED THAI SORGHUM TOFU BOWL

“I love this [vegan, gluten-free] recipe because the Thai sauce is to die for! Plus, it’s a healthy one-dish meal. It has veggies, a plant-protein, and whole grains. Everyone loves it, even carnivores!”

Sharon Palmer, R.D.


READ MORE > EASY WAYS TO EAT MORE PLANT PROTEIN


10. BLACKENED SALMON

“This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. My husband and I created it together, and we literally enjoy it at least once every week! I think you will find that it’s super easy to make (dinner in 20 minutes, anyone?), has just a few (of the right) ingredients, and the combination of the juicy salmon with the spicy-sweet seasoning rub is a match made in recipe heaven. Plus, it is packed with heart healthy omega-3’s and protein. I like to serve it over a simple green salad.”

—Sarah-Jane Bedwell, R.D., L.D.N., host of Cooking with Sarah-Jane video and blog series

11. SPICY FISH TACOS WITH TANGY MANGO CREMA

“These Spicy Fish Tacos with Tangy Mango Cream have all the flavors of the deep-fried versions without all the greasy fat. Give it a try for yourself, and I think this recipe will become a regular in your Taco Tuesday rotation!”

Sarah-Jane Bedwell

12. PASTA WITH BROCCOLI, SQUASH, AND CHICKEN

If you’re an athlete, this super high-protein pasta dish might be your new favorite weeknight meal. [Tara Ostrowe], M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., runs the performance nutrition program for the New York Giants, so she knows about post-workout eats. This pasta, from the cookbook Recipes For Champions is one of her favorites.

13. ULTIMATE STREET FISH TACOS

“What I love about these easy-to-make fish tacos is that they’re super nutritious and tasty—two street tacos have only 170 calories and provide 17 grams of protein and 5 grams of healthy unsaturated fat. Plus, the small size makes them fun for kids or to serve at parties when finger foods are easier to eat.”

Patricia Bannan, M.S., R.D.

14. RED CHILE AND CHEESE-STUFFED TURKEY BURGER

“My super quick and tasty turkey burgers offer an awesome surprise filling in the middle that everyone loves! Served on a whole wheat bun with your favorite toppings—such as sliced avocados, tomatoes, salsa, and arugula—each burger is only 360 calories and provides 33 grams of protein.”

Patricia Bannan

15. BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND GRUYÈRE FRITTATA

“In my house we refer to this dish as the ‘brain food’ frittata, in part because the Brussels sprouts look like mini brains but mostly the duo of Brussels sprouts and eggs pack this frittata with choline—a micronutrient that’s known as the heart helper, mom’s best friend, baby brain builder, and a builder of memory blocks.”

— Rebecca Scritchfield, M.A., R.D., H.F.S, author of Body Kindness

16. PESTO CHICKEN WITH ZUCCHINI NOODLES

“I love zoodles! They are such an easy, low starch, veggie-rich way to bulk up my meals. I love a lot of volume when I eat, but I hate the heavy feeling I have after pasta or starchy foods, particularly at night. This zoodle dish Savory Lotus is one of my favorite recipes—easy, flavorful, filling, and light!

Lauren Minchen, M.P.H, R.D., C.D.N.


READ MORE > GARLICKY BROCCOLI ‘ZOODLES’ WITH BACON [VIDEO] | RECIPE


17. SALMON QUINOA BURGERS WITH MINT YOGURT SAUCE

“I love burgers, meatballs, and patties. They are such fun ways to combine different flavors and textures. These salmon patties do just that with a combo of canned salmon, quinoa, chia seeds, peppers, and spices. They are a true protein powerhouse!”

—Kath Younger, R.D., blogger at Kath Eats Real Food

Related

  • Jessica

    This is the MFP blog, right? What’s the point if it’s just a click bait article like everywhere else? Perhaps consider having the macros listed with the blurb, and having all of these pre-loaded into the database. It’s your app. It’s weird that your blog has no connection to it.
    Jess

    • Steve Jones

      I find this way is easier to bookmark for my later reference, than to page thru a massive blog.

  • Denise O’Connor

    How much time and money do these people have and what is all this stuff. Can’t someone put recipes up of normal simple food that people can afford and actually have in their kitchen. Ridiculous

    • Julie Dale Roberts

      I totally agree!!! The expense alone is enough reason not to fall in to the diet rage. Most of the ingredients in this article either i don’t like or have no idea what it is! The pics are not very appealing either.

    • Angela Drummond-Mathews

      Hi,
      I haven’t looked at every single recipe, but just based on the pictures and the ones I have looked at, I can tell that almost all of these ingredients can be purchased at Walmart. Maybe not the sorghum, but you never know. Try Sprouts or Whole Foods or Central Market for whatever you can’t get at Walmart. But seriously, most of this is pretty simple stuff, even if it is unfamiliar. I am definitely trying the pesto chicken and the quinoa enchilada dip.

    • Trying

      ” Normal ” people don’t think about new ways to eat common healthy foods and new ways to prepare them. ” Normal ” people eat the same ol’ food, prepared the same ol’ ways and die of the same ol’ diseases, complaining the entire time.

    • Joan M

      Turkey meatballs: Turkey, ww breadcrumbs,parm cheese, egg, spinach, mushrooms, a bit of oil in the pan, and beer…seasoned with garlic, salt & pepper. Insanely exotic.

    • Katherine Verbeke

      There isn’t one recipe on here that I would eat, let alone prepare. You are correct, simple food that people eat.

  • Rita Schamehorn Kovatch

    Joined FitnessPal a week ago and one thing that frustrates me is that they show a serving, but don’t say how big the serving is. For example: War wonton soup… 1 serving is x amount of calories but they don’t say how big a serving is. Is it a whole bowl full, 1 cup or 2 cups? I don’t know a single person who eats only 1 c of this soup. grrrrr

    • Jonathan Parham

      I concur. When, I see recipes like this. . . I skip them. I need to quantify by cups, ounces, or grams.

  • Paula G

    Thanks to all for creating / posting these delicious looking recipes. My family will be trying them all!

  • France Archambault

    Tried the turkey meatballs recipe last night. It’s delicious! Paired it with quinoa and collard greens. Will be making this one again.

  • Jackson Bravo

    Had the Chicken Pesto with Zucchini noodles (fresh from garden) and it was fantastic. Also had the Quinoa Queso Dip, but skipped the chips and added it to a salad with 4 oz of strip steak for burrito bowl. The recipes aren’t that difficult and the tastes are terrific.

    Thanks MFP for providing the ideas!

  • PauperPrincess

    They actually make it – does anyone actually EAT it? Ugh. Not helpful at all.

  • ChamTeaDaughterOfHeraAKAFallon

    Be careful cooking curry in the instant pot. The gasket retains the curry smell.