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Quick Healthy Meals

When life gets hectic, healthy decisions are often the first thing to go. Unfortunately, failing to prioritize your own health may cause you to get sick, have low energy, or even experience depression. Getting proper nutrition doesn’t have to require hours of slaving away over the stove. These tips to incorporate quick and healthy meals into your routine can keep you healthy and happy.

Prioritize Meal Planning

It seems a bit paradoxical to spend time planning meals when you’re concerned about things being as fast and easy as possible. However, a bit of up-front work pays major dividends when it comes time to eat (Hyman, 2015). Set aside an hour or two each Sunday to plan your meals for the week. This includes making a list of possible meals, checking your pantry, and creating a grocery list for the items you’re missing. Then, you never have to spend time wondering what to eat during the week -- you will always be certain of having the foods you need to create healthy meals. This also saves you time by cutting back on last-minute runs to the grocery store for missing ingredients.

Keep Your Pantry Stocked with Healthy Ingredients

Along these lines, planning your meals may be further facilitated by selecting the right foods while adding foods to your inventory. Keeping your pantry stocked with nutritious ingredients is crucial to making quick healthy meals. Consider the following healthy pantry staples (Whole Foods Market, 2016):

  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Whole grains (e.g., quinoa, bulgur, oats or barley)
  • Eggs
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Dried fruits

Maintaining a stock of these ingredients means you always have something to eat and can make planning your meals for the week even easier. For example, you could make a nutritious soup with vegetable broth, beans, and a few fresh greens or you could create a grain bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, spinach, toasted walnuts, and a healthy vinaigrette. Tossing whole-wheat noodles with a sauce made from peanut butter, soy sauce, and rice vinegar for an Asian noodle dish is another versatile option. Add your favorite sauteed vegetables to boost the fiber content.

Prepare Ingredients Ahead of Time

One of the crucial secrets to healthy meal planning success is preparing ingredients ahead of time. This does not mean that you need to make entire meals, although some people use that approach to great success. Rather, focus on preparing ingredients that will make meal preparation faster. For example, chop up fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as you bring them home from the store. If you are making brown rice, double the amount to save the rest for later. Or make a large batch of steel cut oats at the beginning of the week so you have a nutritious breakfast every day.

Just remember, this approach is only useful if you actually plan to eat the extras. Chopping up your vegetables may hasten their expiry, so be sure to only cut up the amount you intend to eat for the week. Should you pair this approach with meal planning, however, advanced meal prep supplies a stellar means of staying healthy.

Consider Meal Replacement Options

Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough time to make a “real” meal, even if it only takes 10 to 15 minutes. This is where meal replacement options become very handy. Having a stockpile of meal replacement beverages such as protein shakes ensures that you get nutrition when you’re on the go. Pack one of these beverages in your bag if you know you will be missing breakfast or lunch, or have a flavored protein powder ready to add to any source of water you encounter.

Alternatively, use the “big salad” principle as a meal replacement option. If you have a stash of fresh, washed greens, nearly anything can be added to create a salad in a matter of minutes. For example, top a bowl of baby spinach with chickpeas, walnuts, dried cranberries, olive oil, and red wine vinegar for a fast, healthy meal. Preparing one big salad at the beginning of the week also works well if you have even less than the five minutes needed to make a single serve salad.

Develop Some “Go-To” Recipes

Once you're comfortable in the kitchen, it becomes easier to make nutritious meals when time is limited. Develop a list of four or five “go-to” recipes that are fast and easy. These could be recipes for a specific dish (e.g., tuna casserole) or they could be a starting point to use up whatever you have on hand.

For example, the basic concept of a stir fry can be used to mix nearly any whole grain product with quickly sauteed vegetables. Add a protein, such as tofu, peanuts, or chicken, with a drizzle of soy sauce, and your meal is complete. Pasta dishes, grain bowls, and soups are particularly adaptable to a number of fast, easy meals. Just focus on getting a few servings of fruits or vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein to make a nutritious meal.

Quick Healthy Recipes

Here are a few examples of recipes that are fast and easy. For more, check out our page on easy recipes.

Kale Quinoa Salad

Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

A robust salad that can act as a full meal, this delightful dish is as delectable as it is healthsome. At 25 minutes of total time, this recipe offers a great healthy meal for when you’re in a pinch. You can also swap out the boiled egg for boiled chicken breast for a lean protein substitute with a suitable savor.
Ingredients: Quinoa, fresh baby kale, purple cabbage, carrots, fresh dill, boiled eggs, rice wine, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 8 servings

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

A palatable pudding to perk you up in the morning with a potent portion of essential nutrients, this delectable dish takes only ten minutes to make! Though it makes a perfect breakfast, its flavors also make for a favorable lunch. The pudding offers an ample amount of vitamin A and modest offerings of protein, fiber and calcium to keep you moving!
Ingredients: Milk, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fresh blueberries.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

Matcha Green Tea Pancakes

Matcha Green Tea Pancakes Recipe {gluten-free}

A dish that makes for dessert or breakfast, these savory pancakes are paired with sweet toppings for a succulent savor that you won’t believe was so simple to make! It takes only ten minutes to whip up a batch of these fluffy flapjacks, so you can ensure you start or end the day with a delicious plate of pancakes!
Ingredients: Almond milk, brown rice flour, egg, sugar, coconut oil, matcha green tea powder, hemp protein powder, butter, greek yogurt, walnuts, almonds, banana chips, cranberries, golden raisins, maple syrup, cacao powder, baking powder.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 9-10 pancakes

Protein-Packed Detox Smoothie {vegan}

Protein-Packed Detox Smoothie Recipe {vegan}

In only 5 minutes, you can knock out a notable portion of your nutritional needs for the day. This simple smoothie is packed to the brim with needed nutrients, including 19 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, 46% of the DV for iron, 20% of the DV for potassium, 71% of the DV for calcium and more than 100% of the DV for vitamin A!
Ingredients: Almond milk, frozen banana, spirulina, hemp protein powder (optional), fresh mint, chia seeds, hemp hearts.
Total Time: 5 minutes | Yield: 2 servings

Products for a Quick and Healthy Meal

Having the right ingredients on-hand makes it easy to whip up something healthy in a matter of no time. Below are some of our favorite foods to use in nearly any dish!


Hyman, M. (2015). 6 simple strategies to eat healthy when you don't have time. Retrieved from

Whole Foods Market (2016). Healthy pantry makeover. Retrieved from