Before kids, I imagined motherhood would be 80% playing games, snuggling, and reading, and 20% hanging out with my husband while they took naps. Or something pretty close to that. Turns out, it’s mostly:
- Performing goalie maneuvers to prevent your three-year-old from pressing the alarm bell in elevators
- Convincing another child that they don’t actually need seven glasses of water next to their bed when they go to sleep
- Feeling like your heart can’t hold any more love as you watch them sleep, then freaking out because one of them stirs and you think they’re going to wake up (You grab a pre-emptive glass of water just in case)
So yeah, not what I expected, but so much more than I could have wished for.
Sometimes, though, unexpected challenges can sap our time, energy and desire to cook healthy meals . . . just when we and (and our families) need those restorative nutrients the most. That’s why I put together this list of quick, healthy meals for you. They’ll help you get dinner on the table no matter what the day brings, and still leave time to enjoy your family.
Before we dive in, though, I can’t write about making life easier in the kitchen without mentioning my “personal assistant” – Real Plans. It’s WAY more than a meal generator or menu planner, it’s a personalized experience that takes your schedule into account, knows your dietary quirks, and even delivers a shopping list to your phone so you never forget anything. You can drag and drop the recipes below into your plan for the week, or you can tell Real Plans to only put meals on your plan that take 30 minutes or less to make. Check out my video tour of Real Plans here.
Quick Healthy Meals In 30 Minutes Or Less
The recipe below with asterisks next to them are from yours truly, and the others are some of my favorites from around the web.
1. 20 Minute Homemade Chicken Nuggets* – I’m always looking for ways to save time in the kitchen, so awhile ago I skipped a couple of steps while making our favorite chicken nugget recipe.Y’all, no one noticed. They gobbled them down and asked for more. When I need a quick meal, I often serve this chicken nuggets with my super quick homemade ranch dressing. The ranch serves as a dipping sauce for the nuggets and a dressing for a big salad that I toss together quickly.
2. Egg Drop Soup* – This protein-packed, mineral rich egg drop soup is one of my “go to” recipes when I need to get something on the table in 15 minutes flat. My kids cheer when I mention I’m making it.
3. 30 Minute Taco Skillet from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – So much flavor AND it’s all made in one skillet for easy cleanup. Definitely put it on your “must try” list.
4. Easy Pepper Steak* – This recipe for one of my old takeout favorites is super simple to make with 100% real food ingredients. It’s kid-approved, of course!
5. Egg Roll In A Bowl from Whole New Mom – Fast, delicious, and perfect for lunch the next day if you have leftovers. That’s a big if, though. 🙂
6. 15 Minute Asian Noodles: Lo Mein Copycat from Raising Generation Nourished – Add in some boiled eggs for quick protein and you’ve got a meal in less time than it takes to convince your kids that they don’t really need 3,857 glasses of water before bed.
7. Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry from Wellness Mama – This one pan recipe is budget-friendly and easy to customize with your family’s favorite spices.
8. Coconut Lime Chicken Curry Soup* – This simple Thai-inspired soup melds tangy lime and sweet coconut with warming ginger and fresh cilantro. It’s one of my favorite ways to use leftover roasted chicken and homemade bone broth, and it’s easy enough to make on a busy weeknight.
9. 10 Minute Oven-Cooked Salmon With Lemon & Thyme from The Family That Heals Together – This salmon recipe can be paired with something simple like these Instant Pot Butter & Dill Potatoes and a salad for a quick meal.
10. Pakistani Kima from Wellness Mama – One pan, thirty minutes, so much yum.
11. Spicy Scallop Rolls* – The mild sweetness of scallops perfectly complements the smokey finish of chipotle peppers, and the rice/cauliflower rice adds a layer of texture that reminds me of my junk-food burrito days of yore. Make, eat, and be satisfied!
12. Paleo Pizza With Cassava Flour Crust* – This recipe can be made in 30 minutes if you work quickly, and when it’s all said and done you have not one but two pizzas. I make it almost every Friday as one of my family’s favorite traditions.
Healthy Meals That Take Very Little Little Hands-On time
These recipes have a cook time that is longer than thirty minutes but they require very little hands-on prep time, so they’re quick in the sense that the require very little time in the kitchen.
13. Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers* – These tomatoey, cheesy stuffed peppers got a big thumbs up from my kids. They only take about 10 minutes of hands-on prep + 30 minutes in the oven, and they’re pretty, too. (At least I think so!)
14. Perfect Eye Of Round from The Domestic Man – I love this recipe because it turns an inexpensive roast into a beautiful and tasty meal. It only takes about 10 minutes of active time, but actual cooking time is 2.5-3 hours.
15. Sheet Pan Chicken & Veggie Dinner from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – I think Lexi says it best. “Toss the ingredients in a bowl, line on a baking sheet, bake, and devour! What you’re left with is an easy meal that requires minimal clean up. Plus, it’s totally customizable to the veggies you have on hand!”
16. Instant Pot Honey Balsamic Pork Chops from Predominantly Paleo – Less than 10 minutes of hands-on prep and you’re good to go.
17. Easy Greek Chicken Bake by Beauty And The Foodie – This dish only takes 5-10 minutes of hands-on prep before you pop it in the oven, and it’s a one-pan meal so cleanup is easy.
18. Easy Indian Butter Chicken from The Castaway Kitchen – Indian food was my date-night fave when my husband and I were newlyweds. Love this healthy homemade version!
19. Crock Pot Taco Meat from Delicious Obsessions – The beauty of this recipe is that you can make a huge batch with about 10 minutes of hands-on time, then freeze what you don’t need for a quick meal later as well.
21. Stuffed Pepper Soup* (Guest post from Raising Generation Nourished published here on Mommypotamus) – With this recipe, I’ve found that I can roll out of bed, toss all my ingredients in the slow cooker while I brown the meat, and then toss that in too and turn the slow cooker on high. That all takes about 10 minutes, and by lunchtime it’s ready.
22. Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken – This Instant Pot pressure cooker whole chicken is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes. It’s so tender, and as soon as I serve the meat I can put the frame right back in with some water to make homemade bone broth.
23. How To Cook A Frozen Roast In A Slow Cooker* – We all know slow cookers save a ton of hands-on time, but they often require a lot of planning: remembering to thaw meat + shopping for ingredients + getting up early enough to chop/dice/sear/etc.
24. Slow Cooker Whole Chicken* – This recipe is easy to pull together and can be adapted to keep things interesting – coated in barbecue sauce, sprinkled with lemon pepper or cajun seasoning.
High five if you are always that organized, but I’m not! That’s why this roast is different – it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes without planning ahead. If you’ve wondered how to cook a frozen roast without thawing, this recipe is for you.
25. Slow Cooker Ginger Beef from Kitchen Stewardship – I love the fresh ginger, beef, tamari, and snap pea combination in this recipe!
26. Instant Pot Barbacoa from Zenbelly – This dish only requires 5 minutes of hands-on prep and can be served in place of ground beef for a quick taco salad, or over homemade tortillas. (I make tortillas in big batches and freeze them with parchment paper between each one for a quick dinner option.)
27. Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken From Get Inspired Everyday – Takes just 10 minutes to throw together in the slow cooker, and it makes a delicious taco bowl or Mexican-style salad.
Want More Recipes?
Arsy of Rubies and Radishes has put together a collection of 70+ delicious paleo options in her ebook, Real Food Slow Cooker Recipes. It includes 40+ main dishes and 30 sides and salads – all created for individuals with busy lifestyles.
Need help making REAL food work in REAL life?
Then I’d love to give you a free copy of my ebook – The Busy Mama’s Guide To Getting Dinner On The Table – as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. You’ll get my top seven tips for simplifying meal prep, plus updates when I post new healthy recipes, exclusive gifts, coupons (I was able to give away a jar of free coconut oil to anyone who wanted it recently!), and other goodies. Don’t miss out!