18 easy weeknight dinners that dietitians cook on repeat

Don’t know what to cook for tea? These dietitian-approved easy weeknight dinners are sure to become part of your weekly rotation.

You’ve had a hectic day, and the last thing you feel like doing is slaving away in the kitchen.

Instead of ordering takeaway, try one of our dietitians’ favourite last-minute meals – you’ll have a healthy, easy weeknight dinner on the table in no time.

18 dietitian-approved easy weeknight dinners

Vegetable curry

A warming and nutritious meal, vegetable curry is one of dietitian Alice Bleathman’s go-to dinners.

She suggests using shortcuts, such as using a pre-made spice mix and adding tinned beans to save you from chopping mounds of vegetables.

“To make the curry, simply fry onion with the spices, add in any vegetables and canned beans or legumes you would like, and then coconut milk,” Alice says.

“Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes on low heat, until (the) vegetables are cooked through.

“Serve with basmati rice and a dollop of Greek yoghurt on top, and garnish with whatever you choose.”

This meal ticks a lot of health boxes.

“It’s high in fibre, which aids in digestion and healthy bowel movements, and is rich in vitamins and minerals for overall health and wellbeing,” Alice says.

“The spices also have a high antioxidant content, which helps protect against chronic disease.”

Three recipes to try:

Tofu and vegetable stir-fry

“Tofu is an excellent source of complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids your body needs,” Verde Nutrition Co dietitian Amanda Smith says.

The beauty of a stir-fry is that it comes together quickly and with this meal, you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes, she says.

To make things easier, Amanda suggests chopping vegetables ahead of time, or using chopped frozen veggies.

Cook the cubed tofu in olive oil until golden, then set it aside.

Next, cook the vegetables, then add the tofu back in with flavourings – Amanda uses a dash of soy sauce or tamari, oyster sauce, and a handful of fresh herbs such as coriander, basil and/or chilli.

Serve with microwave brown rice, soba noodles or wok-ready Hokkien noodles to reduce prep and cooking times even further.

Three recipes to try:

Poke bowls

“When I’m short on time for dinner, my poke bowls are my go-to,” dietitian Rebecca Gawthorne says.

“I have the salad veggies chopped in the fridge, ready to go, along with cooked rice.”

To save even more time, Rebecca uses canned tuna or chickpeas, for a vegetarian option, which means there’s no cooking – simply assemble your bowl when you’re ready to eat.

“They (poke bowls) are filling, easy and delicious,” she says.

This dish has plenty of fibre and an array of beneficial plant compounds, including antioxidants and phytochemicals, and is especially beneficial for gut, immune and heart health, Rebecca notes.

Three recipes to try:

Bean burrito bowls

This dish is highly customisable, Alice says, allowing you to mix and match various legumes, vegetables, grains and proteins.

She uses either lean beef or chicken mince, or a vegetarian soy protein, which she cooks with a little taco seasoning, then adds tinned legumes such as black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans; vegetables such as spinach, corn or tomatoes; and cooked grains such as rice or quinoa.

Top bowls with avocado and Greek yoghurt, and voilà – dinner is ready!

“Beans are particularly high in fibre and when paired with rice and other grains, they provide all the essential amino acids needed for muscle repair, immune function and overall health,” Alice says.

Three recipes to try:

Lentil salad

Rebecca’s lentil salad is quick and easy and doesn’t even require you to turn on the stove!

Simply mix together tinned lentils, diced cucumber, chopped red onion, avocado and cherry tomatoes.

Crumble feta and mix through, sprinkle fresh herbs such as parsley, and drizzle salad with dressing made from lemon juice and olive oil.

“Packed with veggies, herbs, legumes and low GI foods, (this meal will) provide you with sustained energy and a balance of macronutrients and micronutrients like iron, zinc and magnesium,” Rebecca says.

Three recipes to try:

One-tray Mexican bake

This is one of Amanda’s weeknight faves, as it’s easy to make and versatile – simply change up the spices for different flavour combinations.

To save time, she suggests using ready-made taco seasoning, pre-chopped vegetables and chicken tenders or strips.

To make the bake, place some chopped vegetables on a tray (typically, sweet potato, carrot, red capsicum, zucchini and onion) and drizzle them with olive oil.

Add spices and top with chicken tenderloins or chicken breast strips, then bake for 10 minutes.

Top with kidney beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.

To finish, toss through spinach leaves then add a dollop of Greek yoghurt, salsa and coriander on top.

“(This dish) contains a diverse range of plant foods, as well as legumes, which are great for our gut health and therefore overall health,” Amanda says.

“To boost the plant points and nutritional benefits even further, try adding a few extra spices such as dried oregano and onion powder.”

Easy tray bakes:

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Written by Tania Gomez