Easy and healthy recipe ideas
Published February 01, 2023
These healthy and easy recipes will give you the inspiration you need to complete your meal plan, wether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner ideas.
In this article:
- What is healthy food?
- What is an easy recipe?
- Breakfast ideas
- Lunch ideas
- Dinner ideas
- Meal planning hacks for easy, healthy recipes
At Meal Planner App, our goal is to make meal planning less stressful and less time-consuming. We often hear from our dedicated meal planners that they struggle to find new recipes, or they feel stuck in a rut with their meal plans. One of the pain points that comes along with finding new recipes is finding recipes that are healthy while not being time-consuming to prepare and cook.
That’s why we put this list together. We want to share some recipes that are healthy and easy to make. But before we get to our list, we should make sure we’re on the same page with some of our terminology, specifically when we say "healthy" and "easy". After all, we all come from different backgrounds, have different health needs, and have different concepts of the word "easy".
What is healthy food?
Let’s address what we mean when we say "healthy".
First of all, we do not subscribe to the belief that some foods are intrinsically bad or good. We do, however, believe that some foods are not best when given the choice to eat something better.
Here’s what we mean by that. We would probably all agree that incorporating vegetables into our diet is a healthy choice. But that doesn’t mean that chocolate cheesecake is bad. We just don’t want to eat cheesecake in place of vegetables, and maybe we will choose to eat the cheesecake as a treat only once or twice a week.
Similarly, fatty foods have often been frowned upon, but recent science is suggesting that there is such a thing as "good fat". We found a very helpful article explaining what is considered "healthy food" that sheds light on balanced nutrition, specifically for women. We’ll refer to "good fats" as food that is prepared with or includes vegetable oils such as olive oil or avocado oil, nuts, seeds, and fish. When it comes to "healthy fats", we took a lot of cues from this article on the healthiest high fat foods.
For the sake of this article, we will use the word "healthy" to have a threefold meaning:
- The recipe incorporates fruit or vegetables
- The recipe can be prepared with "good fats"
- The recipe includes a source of protein such as meat, nuts, or beans
What is an easy recipe?
Another term we need to qualify is the word "easy". We all have a different vision of what easy looks and feels like. At Meal Planner App, we’re a small husband-and-wife duo, and we have three kids. I’m sure many readers can relate to wearing many hats throughout the day. There are busy moms homeschooling their kiddos throughout the day, then switching gears to become homemaker at dinner time. There are single parents who work hard to provide for their kids while balancing spending quality time with them while they’re not working. So does easy mean a recipe can take 15 minutes? 30 minutes?
For the sake of this article, we will use the word "easy" to mean this:
- 15 ingredients or less
- Either a short prep/cook time...
- Or a prep/cook time that can be broken up and not done all at once (think slow-cooker meals)
Now that we’re all on the same page, here are some ideas for easy, healthy meals.
We’ll start with the most important (or at least, our favorite) meal of the day — breakfast. We love having a few breakfast options up our sleeve throughout the week, so that we aren’t stuck with one option every day.
Easy overnight oats
Overnight oats are our secret weapon for breakfast. All of the prep work is done at night while the kids are sleeping, then we wake up to a fully-prepared meal with no extra work to be done. We just take it out of the fridge and put it on the table. Best of all, there are nearly infinite combinations of flavors you can include with overnight oats, so we never feel like we’re eating breakfast on repeat.
We start with this easy overnight oats recipe from Feel Good Foodie, then we change it up as needed. There are lots of optional ingredients in this particular recipe, but at its core, overnight oats are simply oats and your milk of choice. The rest lends itself to your mood and your creativity.
Veggie egg muffins
Lately, we’ve been making these veggie egg cups from Spend With Pennies. They’re actually quite brilliant because they incorporate protein from the eggs, and they help us get more of our daily dose of vegetables.
We typically will make these ahead of time, usually on a Sunday night, so that we can eat on them for the rest of the week. We microwave them in the mornings for 20-30 seconds, and enjoy a healthy, warm breakfast.
Three ingredient protein flapjacks
For those who don’t know, flapjacks are just another word for pancakes, and these pancakes pack a lot of plant-based protein. Best of all, they cook very quickly and require very little prep. That’s why three ingredient protein flapjacks from Kodiak are one of our favorites.
Kodiak is a brand that specializes in protein-rich pancake and waffle mix. They also have a line of toaster waffles that make breakfast even easier.
We believe that lunch should be a short reprieve from the day where you can collect yourself and enjoy something tasty that will give you energy to make it through the day. Here are some easy, healthy lunch ideas from our kitchen to yours.
Artisan sourdough bread
Wait, sourdough bread? That’s a big stretch of the word "easy".
Like we said, we are calling recipes "easy" when they have few ingredients and can either be made quickly or spread out over a period of time. While baking sourdough does involve a lot of steps, none of it happens all at once. We like to say it’s 30 minutes of work spread out over 8-12 hours. Baking sourdough has become a weekly rhythm for our family, and allows us to enjoy fresh bread weekly with only three ingredients — flour, salt, and water. Of course you’ll need a sourdough starter or "mother dough", which can easily be made at home, but chances are if you start saying the word "sourdough" to your friends, a starter will magically appear.
Once you've got a fresh loaf of bread, the possibilities for a healthy, easy lunch are endless.
Chicken salad sandwich
One of our favorite things to put between two freshly baked slices of sourdough is this chicken salad from Delish. This is another one of those recipes that can be made very simply. We often cook a whole chicken for a dinner recipe, then use what’s left for chicken salad. To make it even easier, you can buy a whole, rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and use breast or thigh meat for chicken salad.
Pro tip: we sometimes omit the dill because we don’t always have it on hand. And we sometimes substitute apple for grapes depending on what’s in season and what we have.
The easiest chopped Greek chickpea salad
Salad is a great idea for lunch because it won’t give you the after-lunch crash. And typically, a salad can be prepared ahead of time for the whole week, so that it’s more of a grab-and-go option.
We love this chickpea Greek salad recipe from Ambitious Kitchen because it includes protein from the chickpeas and the feta cheese. It can be simplified by only using one type of bell pepper, and by either making the dressing ahead of time or buying a healthy Greek dressing from the store.
At Meal Planner App, we believe that dinner should be a time that is set apart for the family to gather and connect over a shared meal. The focus should be on enjoying a meal together, not stressing over doing what needs to be done to put it on the table. That is often easier said than done. Here are a few dinner recipe ideas that help us focus on the people instead of stressing over the process.
Crockpot lentil soup
If you need a healthy, easy option to catch up on your daily dose of veggies, this crockpot lentil soup packs plenty of veggies and flavor. In addition to being healthy, it also is really easy to make. The bulk of the preparation is chopping vegetables. Most stores carry chopped carrots, onions, and celery if you want to make this recipe even easier.
Once the prep work is done, the slow cooker does the real work over the course of the day. When it’s dinner time, just pour the soup into bowls, and you have an easy, healthy dinner.
Sheet pan kielbasa, potatoes, and green beans
We love a good sheet pan meal because they're not only easy to prepare and cook, but they also make cleanup even easier. Our introduction to sheet pan meals was this sheet pan kielbasa, potatoes, and green beans from Budget Bytes. The recipe is already easy, and it can be made healthy by selecting a sausage that has been minimally processed. For an even healthier version, you can add cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, or any other vegetable you have lying around.
Instant pot refried beans
When it comes to easy and healthy, this instant pot refried beans recipe has you covered. What makes it so healthy? For starters, beans are a great source of plant-based protein, and calling these beans "refried" is a bit of a misnomer — they're not actually fried. Plus, if you use a hearty bone broth in this recipe, you get lots of nutrients that support the immune system.
But beans alone aren’t a sufficient meal, so we also make a simple salsa rice, then add the beans and rice with a little cheese to a tortilla to make bean and rice burritos. There are plenty of healthy options for tortillas as well, and depending on how easy you want to go, you could even make your own at home. Homemade tortillas will have far less ingredients and preservatives than store-bought.
Meal planning hacks for easy, healthy recipes
No matter how healthy or how easy the recipes are, a solid meal plan is the ultimate hack for saving time and money. At Meal Planner App, our goal is to make meal planning easier and less stressful. Our online meal planner helps you keep track of all of your recipes, plan them on the calendar, and provides elegant recipe formatting for when you’re cooking.
In fact, if you want to save time, there’s no better way than incorporating meal planning into your weekly routine. When you see your meal plan in front of you, the big picture comes into view, and more ideas will come to mind. For instance, you’ll be able to identify which recipes have ingredients in common, and you can shop accordingly. We even have a helpful article explaining how to plan meals with reusable ingredients to give you more ideas on how to save time while eating healthy on a budget.
For those who are new to meal planning, we have a great resource for how to start meal planning. It will give you the knowledge to take your first steps into the meal planning world. We also have some useful tips for making a meal planning rubric. A meal planning rubric is a helpful tool to take a lot of the thought energy out of meal planning and simplify the process.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of easy, healthy recipe ideas. If you haven’t yet, you should try out our online meal planner. It’s free to try for 30 days, and we are confident that it can help you save time and money. Sign up for a trial today!
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