Dinnertime can be overwhelming if you are lacking inspiration and time for cooking. It can be especially difficult if you are working all day and the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove. We have some affordable healthy recipes for dinner that will make you say goodbye to takeaway!June 03, 2022 8:11 am May 25, 2022 5:24 pm
After a long day of work, the last thing most of us want to do is turn into a Masterchef at home and start hustling in the kitchen. It’s all too easy to slump onto the couch with a bag of popcorn catching up on Netflix. Trying to think of healthy recipes for dinner is not at the top of the list for most of us!
Yet we are all aware that this is probably not the best option for our health! Understandably, working life can be exhausting and when uber eats is readily available, why bother with a home-cooked meal?
In 2021, the average annual spend per person on takeaway foods in the United Kingdom rose to GBP 600. For a family of 4, that can quickly amount to GBP 2400 per year, enough for a tropical destination holiday!
Cost aside, we know that takeaway foods are often not the healthiest choices. Laden in trans fats, salt, preservatives, and added sugars, there’s a reason they taste so good and can become addictive for many of us.
Cooking your own dinners will save you a considerable amount of money, it also gives you control over the ingredients that go into your body. Therefore you can make more intentional and healthy choices about what you eat.
One of the primary reasons that most of us don’t make time for a home-cooked meal is fatigue. In addition to lack of inspiration! It’s true that if you spend time making your own food at night, you may end up going to bed later. However there are plenty of strategies to avoid this and save time and energy!
By planning ahead, batch-cooking, learning how to be savvy with leftovers and stocking up on basic healthy staples, you’ll be an expert in no time.
So, here are our top healthy dinner recipes that work whether you live by yourself, with a roommate, partner or whole family! Bonus: any leftovers can be stored in a tupperware for tomorrow’s school or work lunch. We will also provide some tips for time-saving and cost-saving!
Hearty lentil dal
After a long, tiring day, or one which has strained our emotions, we crave dal. There is something so comforting about the texture of soft, cooked lentils and the nurturing warmth of spices. It’s a soft, cuddly blanket for the soul and perfect all year round.
Dal is easy, healthy food. It’s the perfect healthy dinner recipe. In fact, you can eat it out of a bowl, with minimum fuss, or scooped into fluffy naan or flatbreads. You can add extras as you see fit: a spoonful of coconut yoghurt on top, or a side of chutney. A sprinkling of coriander. Or, just as it is.
What’s fantastic about Dal is that it is something you can make with basic staples. Most ingredients can be stored in your cupboard and don’t need to be bought fresh, including legumes and spices.
One pot wonder
Dal is truly a one pot wonder and you can cook everything together. Start off with a little oil of your choice, either coconut or extra virgin olive oil, then add some chopped onion, garlic and green pepper and sauté for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. You can add as many spices as you like, some tomato paste, water and red lentils.Feel free to substitute with chickpeas or any other legume that takes your fancy! You can get creative with how to garnish your dal, add a spoonful of coconut yoghurt, some fresh parsley and lime slices. We love to serve it with healthy crackers for some extra crunch and nutrition!
Top tip: You can buy dried legumes in large value packs from middle-eastern delis and online. They are just as nutritious and much cheaper and sustainable than canned varieties (no metal waste). Red lentils can be added straight to your dal recipe whilst some legumes may require soaking time. Check the label for instructions and to save time, soak them overnight while you sleep. Dal is a great dish to make in batches, so why not double the recipe and keep it in tupperware for a few days. You can easily reheat it in the microwave, and with a side of rice, it’s the perfect lunchbox to pack for work (or school!) the next day.
Pasta and veggies
A tried and tested combination, pasta and veggies is truly a foolproof dish. You’d be hard-pressed to find a vegetable that doesn’t work with pasta! You will love this easy, healthy dinner recipe.
Think seasonal for this dish, and pick whatever vegetables are most readily available. Broccoli is the perfect example of a seasonal spring vegetable that pairs wonderfully well with pasta.
Full of antioxidants and fibre, veggies are the perfect food. The more the better here so don’t be afraid to experiment with as many combinations as you wish!
Our pasta with broccoli, wild garlic leaves and nut parmesan is a light yet comforting dish that is nutritious and delicious. The whole grain fusilli adds a boost of fibre, you can also use a different shape of pasta if you prefer!
Top tip: Pasta can be cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge. You can make an extra batch of this and keep it for a few days. You can also cook plain pasta and add different veggies to it for variety! Also, frozen veggies can be a convenient option if you don’t have fresh ones at hand or if you want to save some money. They are just as nutritious as fresh ones! A bag of frozen peas in the freezer can be turned into a pasta dish in no time! Sauté some peas and onion in a pan, add some cooked plain pasta, perhaps stir in a dollop of ricotta and garnish with some mint leaves, voila! All in less than 20 minutes!
“Frozen veggies can be a convenient option if you don’t have fresh ones at hand or if you want to save some money. They are just as nutritious as fresh ones!”
Vegan Bolognese: a heartwarming, healthy recipe for dinner
“Spag bol” (as non-Italians refer to spaghetti bolognese) is an all-time favourite in many British families. Although it’s not quite an authentic Italian dish ( in fact, it doesn’t exist in Italy), it brings comfort to many people and is considered a hearty go-to dish.
For a vegan alternative, you can substitute ground mince beef with tempeh. We have a vegan spag bol healthy dinner recipe that you will love.
The texture of the tempeh means that this vegan bolognese recipe has a similar bulk to it as a meat-based version. In addition, tempeh is not as absorbent as some other plant-based meat substitutes, such as tofu. This makes tempeh a great ingredient for this dish too.
The rest of the recipe is very much a traditional spag bol sauce. You probably have your own personal spag bol. Why not combine it with this one and make it yours as well as Erbology’s? This is definitely one you’ll want to add to your arsenal of healthy recipes for dinner.
Top tip: We use both tomato paste and crushed tomatoes in this recipe. Both are great affordable staples to stock up on in your pantry to use for healthy dinner recipes. These ingredients are so versatile and can be used in everything from pasta dishes, sauces, soups and stews. A little goes a long way with tomato paste so a tube will last you quite a while!
When we think about vegetable soup, we usually have in mind a dense bean-laden broth, perfect for the winter blues. We absolutely love those soups, and the list of our favourite combinations could go on at least until the start of spring. However, sometimes we crave a more delicate, lighter soup, especially as the weather begins to warm up.
Enter vegetable bisque, or spiced carrot soup. It’s a silky delight that will warm your bones on a cold winter’s day, while still feeling light and wholesome and the perfect healthy recipe for dinner.
One of the great things about soups is that you can use almost any vegetable and it’s the perfect way to get rid of leftovers or wilting veggies! Have you got an old onion at the end of its lifespan sitting in your vegetable drawer? Or some wilting spinach? Throw them all in to add extra flavour and reduce waste, it’s a win win!
The addition of other seasonal vegetables – particularly orange coloured ones, like sweet potato or butternut squash, would be a perfect addition or substitute in this recipe!
Top tip: Soup is perhaps the best food to make in bulk and freeze. A great way to freeze it in convenient portions is to pour your soup into ice cube trays. Make sure it has cooled down first before transferring it to ice cube trays. You can freeze it overnight, then pop the “soup cubes” into a zip lock bag and whenever you feel like some soup, just defrost as many cubes as you need either in the microwave or on the stove!
Sushi is an all-time favourite across the world. Originally from Japan, much like other dishes from other countries, it has been adapted in many different ways, sometimes straying from the traditions. In fact, sushi is typically made with fish. However for a vegan version, there are multiple substitutions you can make. We have chosen to use tofu as the main source of protein for our sushi, combined with fresh chopped veggies, sushi rice and nori seaweed. The perfect easy healthy recipe for dinner.
You could also try adding vegan cream cheese in your tofu sushi. We also love topping sushi with toasted sesame seeds, which provide nutritional benefits as well as crunch. Or you could add Japanese pickles for some extra flavour, not to mention fermented gut-loving goodness. You may also like to use brown sushi rice here, this would provide more nutrients and fibre. And last but not least, don’t forget your ginger and wasabi! Either way, whatever you choose to add, these rolls are perfect for an easy, healthy dinner, and you can store any leftovers in the fridge for lunch the next day.
Top tip: You can chop vegetables the day before and store them in airtight containers or zip-lock bags in the fridge. For carrots and peppers, add a moist paper towel in with the veggies to keep them from drying out. Cucumber is happiest in a sealed bag on its own. Perhaps you can marinate more tofu than you need for the sushi, and use it to top a salad or in a sandwich filler along with sliced avocado, grated carrots, and vegan mayonnaise.
Easy healthy recipes for dinner
All you need is a small amount of preparation time and planning ahead. Stocking up on basic essentials will make life much easier when it comes to preparing healthy and hearty recipes for dinner. Keeping canned chickpeas, dried lentils, tomato paste, brown rice and frozen peas at home will mean you always have something on hand to prepare a quick and affordable meal.
You may even wish to block out a sunday afternoon to do some meal prep for the week, store some meals in tupperware containers and set yourself up for success. You may even just want to prepare some individual elements to save time, for example cook up a batch of rice and use it to make sushi and to serve with your dal.
Not only will doing this save you a lot of money, your body will also thank you for feeding it healthier, more nourishing foods.
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