Healthy dinner ideas
Need some healthy meal inspiration to get you through the week? Discover our delicious dinner ideas from curries to roasts to keep you energised and satisfied
Sometimes after a long, busy day, deciding what well-balanced, nutritious meal to make can seem like an impossible task. Worry no more – we've compiled a list of our favourite healthy dinners that are simple, straightforward and full of flavour. All you have to do is pick which to make first.
What makes a nutritious, healthy dinner?
Like most meals, balance is important, as this will help you to feel satisfied and give your body the nutrients it requires. On a basic level, simply ask: does my plate have at least one source of protein, healthy fat and carbohydrate? Remember, vegetables are carbohydrates too – not just bread, rice and pasta. In fact, dinnertime is a great time to load up on less starchy, fibre-rich vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, peppers and mushrooms. Variety is important, as different foods offer different types of nutrients and fibres, so try to aim for at least three or four different ingredients on your plate – if you can make it 10, even better!
Best healthy dinner recipes
Healthy vegan tacos – stuffed with smoky courgette, zesty black beans, pickled red onion and creamy avocado – make a brilliant lighter dinner which the whole family can tuck into.
Sauerkraut, earthy broccoli and mushrooms combine to make this satisfying healthy stir-fry, balanced with zingy ginger and a sweet and salty sauce.
A clever way to make chicken more exciting is to coat in cumin and paprika before frying. There's 38.5g of lean protein per serving, plus plenty of nutrients and fibre. It's light, flavour-packed and ready in 40 minutes.
Nadine Brown’s balanced, nutritious and well-spiced sausage traybake is bursting with smoky, succulent flavours, making it a reliable midweek option that’s healthy, too.
Traybakes, the midweek saviour. This vibrant, curried salmon dish is full of healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidants – great for healthy skin and mind. Serve as is or add a nutritious grain like brown rice or spelt when you're extra hungry.
Not a salmon person? Check out more healthy fish recipes.
This sweet and smoky chilli is the epitome of healthy comfort food, providing plenty of satisfying plant protein and fibre from the beans. The tomato sauce is rich in skin-healthy antioxidants and potassium – important for replenishing your salt balance after a workout. It also freezes well, perfect for busier days.
This easy one-pot is packed with flavour from the cumin, smoked paprika and lime. Avocado offers a great source of healthy fats, while the generous helping of fresh coriander is rich in antioxidants.
Discover even more healthy soup recipes.
This punchy recipe is gluten-free and low in carbs – a great healthy alternative to fried rice. Its variety of vegetables make it rich in fibre and antioxidants, as well as offering 21.1g of protein per serving.
Check out some of our other fried rice recipes.
This colourful soup is packed with nutritious veg, pulses and spices for a vegan winter warmer that's good for you. Spinach, potatoes and chickpeas offer plenty of soluble and insoluble fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, the spices and rich tomato broth provide antioxidants.
Check out this easy chicken recipe with creamy mozzarella, roasted red peppers and punchy 'macho' peas. Nando’s fans will love this lighter version of the restaurant classic, which packs 47.7g of protein per serving alongside plenty of nutrient-dense green veggies.
Liven up lentils with lightly toasted spices, coconut milk and crispy onions in this vibrant, veggie dahl. Red lentils are a brilliant, inexpensive source of plant protein. As well as providing more protein, eggs offer healthy fat and vitamins A, D, B12, zinc and iron. Buy omega-3 rich eggs for added healthy fats.
Try even more of our delicious dahl recipes.
Tofu doesn't have to be boring. These light but flavourful tacos are full of protein (24.6g per portion) and fresh fruit and veg. Added bonus? They're ready in just 30 minutes.
Discover even more taco recipes.
Use up leftover turkey in this nourishing and restorative ramen that offers 53.3g protein per serving. Broccoli, onions and mushrooms provide a variety of soluble and insoluble fibre, which feed your beneficial gut bacteria and support healthy bowel movements. The turkey bone broth provides several important amino acids and gut supportive nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc and magnesium.
Try even more of our gut-supportive recipes.
Turn chickpeas into lightly-spiced fritters, served with a zesty cucumber salad, for a low-calorie meal ready in just 30 minutes. Gram flour is a great storecupboard staple, offering protein, fibre, magnesium and iron. Turmeric adds antioxidants, while Greek yogurt provides bone-supportive calcium.
A traditional Korean fermented food, kimchi adds more than just flavour. It’s a natural source of probiotics and fibre, essentially the gut’s favourite things. Studies suggest that regularly eating kimchi has a positive effect on the gut, immune system, brain function and skin health.
Make our red cabbage kimchi.
This vibrant chicken salad with crunchy green beans, mangetout and lentils is super-simple and quick to make. With just 6.2g of fat per portion, this is a lovely, light midweek meal.
Love healthy salads? Discover even more recipes.
Try this moreish take on risotto using wild rice and creamy roasted garlic for a simple, low-fat vegetarian dinner. Wild rice is incredibly nutritious, offering magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and selenium. Low-fat crème fraîché provides a lovely creaminess, as well as calcium.
Try even more delicious vegetarian risotto recipes.
Our vegan fajita bowl manages to deliver on flavour despite being low in fat and 5:2 friendly. This simple, quick supper has just 4.4g fat and 0.7g of saturates, great for those watching their fat intake.
Do you love Mexican food? Check out our best-ever Mexican-style recipes.
Add white miso and soy sauce to your curry for an umami-rich midweek meal full of chicken and veggies. Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins such as vitamin K, C and folate, as well as fibre and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health.
Love broccoli as much as we do? Try our best-ever broccoli dishes.
Cook this fragrant, veg-heavy curry for a healthy vegetarian meal on the table in 30 minutes. Paneer offers 14g of protein per 100g, while peas are also uniquely rich in plant protein, as well as offering fibre, iron, folate and vitamin K.
Looking for a quick and easy vegan curry? Our Thai green curry with smoked tofu and veg is delicious and ready in 25 minutes. Tofu is not only a great source of vegan protein, but provides magnesium, zinc and calcium. It also contains natural plant compounds called isoflavones, which function as phytoestrogens in the body, offering a variety of health benefits.
Try our favourite tofu recipes.
Looking for a healthier roast dinner? Our super-simple, yogurt-marinated roast chicken is full of flavour while still being lighter and good for you. Serve with a veggie-rich side dish for a nutritious, satisfying meal.
Everybody should have a foolproof, vegetarian roast up their sleeves. With sweet, moreish squash, spicy harissa and salty feta, everyone will love this stunning Middle Eastern-style centrepiece. Serve with one of our veg-rich sides for a balanced meal.
Tracey Raye is the Health Editor for olive and BBC Good Food. Tracey, MSc, is a registered nutritionist, holding a master’s degree in Personalised Nutrition. She is passionate about harnessing the power of all things health and wellbeing - in a way that enhances, rather than limits our lives. She covers our nourishing recipes and collections, oversees our health strategy and stays adrift of the latest health and lifestyle trends – in order to bring you the tools and inspiration you need to find what health means for you.