Healthy weeknight dinners for one. It's easier than you think!

  • 2 Minutes Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you think weeknight dinners for one means frozen entrees and bagged salad on repeat, think again! We take the guesswork out of what to fix with our quick, healthy dinner ideas and favorite staples, so you're ready to build those last-minute meals.

Weeknight dinners for one

15-minutes or less-weeknight dinners for one

The meals shown can be assembled quickly or prepared ahead and reheated at the end of a long day.

Bowls: Over the weekend, cook up some quinoa, roasted vegetables, and chicken breasts. Once cooled, divide between several containers and chill in the refrigerator. Now you have whole-food ingredients that are ready for quick assembly and reheating. Before serving, add some pesto, salsa, or avocado ranch for extra flavor.

Quesadillas: During the weekend, cook up your favorite lean meat. Once cooled, shred and set aside. If you don't have time to prepare meat, open a can of beans and use it as a base. Fill your favorite wrap or tortilla with lean meat, beans, cheese, and add spinach or sauteed veggies. Wrap and heat in the microwave. Dip in spicy salsa and/or guacamole for a more satisfying meal.

Tomato Salad: Cut a large tomato into fourths and keep the tomato pieces intact. In the center of the tomato pieces, place a mixture of tuna, cottage cheese, and fresh parsley. Add some whole-grain crackers, and/or raw veggies, and hummus on the side.

Omelets: Versatile and easy to prepare, omelets can hold a lot of good-for-you food. Chop up about a half cup of veggies. Saute in a non-stick skillet and set aside to cool. Using the same skillet, cook three beaten eggs without stirring until set. Add veggies to the cooked eggs. Serve with whole-grain toast or fruit salad.

Frozen meals: Purchase a frozen meal (something you would not normally make) like Indian chicken, and have it handy in the freezer. After heating, serve with carrot sticks or fruit as a side dish. Here are some of our favorite healthy frozen meals for weight loss.

Pantry items to stock up on for healthy, last-minute meals

A happy cook is one whose kitchen is well-stocked and who doesn't need to run to the store every time beans or olive oil is missing from the pantry. When you have some of these basics on hand (depending upon food allergies or preferences), you open a world of flexible weeknight dinners for one.

  1. Flour, sugar or favorite sweetener, salt, baking soda, baking powder, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and other favorite seasonings and spices
  2. A variety of canned beans (from garbanzo to pinto beans), corn, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and your favorite healthy soups
  3. Jars of pasta sauce, garden-style marinara (an easy way to increase your vegetable intake)
  4. Dried pasta. Have you tried legume pasta? With additional fiber and protein, these types of pasta make a healthier alternative to traditional pasta. Cook up a box, cool, and mix with additional ingredients for a tasty pasta salad.
  5. Canned fruits packed in their own juices instead of sugary syrup come in handy when you don't have time to go to the grocery store at the end of the week.
  6. Oatmeal (old-fashioned) and convenient individually packaged whole-grain oats make a quick breakfast
  7. A variety of frozen fruits for breakfast smoothies or afternoon snacks
  8. A variety of frozen vegetables to increase vegetables in sauces
  9. Cans or packets of tuna packed in water, low-fat mayonnaise, and pickles or relish for a tuna sandwich
  10. Milk, eggs, nut butter, salsa, yogurts, and pesto
  11. Deli cheeses and lean, reduced-sodium meats for sandwiches
  12. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Look for produce that is on sale and in season
  13. Frozen chicken breasts and lean meat patties. Move these from the freezer to the refrigerator the day before you need them (or place them in a well-sealed bag in cold water) to defrost early and save time. Vegetarian patties can usually be cooked from frozen.
  14. Whole-grain sliced bread. And yes, you can remove a slice from the freezer and put it in the toaster!

Meet your health goals and enjoy weeknight dinners for one by planning and preparing a variety of foods from all five food groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy or milk alternatives, and lean protein. You'll save money, eat better, and enjoy the satisfaction of making your own meals.


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Adapted from original content by Martha Henze

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Jul 26, 2021

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