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30+ Healthy 20-Minute Dinners for Families

We love real food, and we love feeding our families well. But sometimes our schedule makes eating healthy dinners around the dinner table almost impossible.

Between school, work, carpooling kids around, after-school activities, and sports practices, from-scratch dinners feel more like a weekend affair than a daily practice.

But we all know that real food is important. We want to bring out best selves to our lives and so we need to feed our bodies the best we can with what limited time we have.

Quick and Healthy Dinners

Personally, soccer is kicking my butt right now. We have practice and games five days a week – even multiple practices on the same day but two hours apart.

Family time is important to us, and so is eating well. For this season, I’ve adjusted my expectations for dinners. We keep our meals light and easy and quick right now on busy weeknights.

With real food, this can get tricky. I’m not throwing a frozen pizza into the oven or swinging by the drive-thru on the way home. We want to eat clean protein, and we want to eat plenty of plants.

My family is “gluten and dairy light” right now, meaning we eat a little bit of gluten (mostly long-ferment sourdough) and a little bit of dairy, but not much. So whether you are gluten-free, dairy-free, or even vegetarian, you’ll find plenty of meal ideas in this list.

We’re also on a budget, so I’m not buying a bunch of pre-made “healthy convenience food,” like gluten-free chicken nuggets or vegan pizza (although there’s nothing wrong with a few convenience food items to help you eat dinner at home instead of eating out).

20-minute healthy dinners for families

Healthy Dinner on the Table in 20 Minutes

Here’s what I did to create a healthy, 20-minute dinner meal plan for my family:

  • Made a list of our favorite dinners that I already knew were quick.
  • Capped it off at 10 meals – we don’t need to eat a different meal every day for the next 90 days. Just a few simple, reliable dinners is all we need.
  • Planned 2-3 Leftover or Make Your Own dinner nights. This helps my kids practice independence (by making their own meals) and gives me a few nights off after playing taxi all afternoon.
  • Frozen vegetables are my friend – I know fresh tastes best, but frozen veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness and they come pre-chopped for you. If you’re trying to save time and make meals from scratch, consider frozen veggies an appropriate and nutritious convenience food.
  • Made my protein ahead of time.

That last one is really key if you want to have 20-minute healthy dinners. Protein takes time to cook. Thankfully, you can cook a bunch of it at the beginning of the week and just toss it into these meals for a quick and healthy dinner.

If you’re vegetarian – or just trying to eat a few meatless meals – try cooking some beans, lentils, or quinoa at the beginning of the week so you can toss it in where appropriate.

Healthy 20-Minute Dinners

Protein to Make-Ahead

Making a few of these at the beginning of the week will cut your dinner prep time in half!

Instant Pot shredded chicken

Chicken Dinner Recipes

  • Chicken, rice, salad – with make-ahead chicken, this meal comes together really quickly with a quick pot of rice and salad
  • Chicken fried rice
  • Salad bar with shredded chicken
  • Chicken tacos with shredded chicken and your favorite taco toppings
  • Nachos topped with chicken
Instant Pot shredded chicken taco
leftover potato nachos
Sandwich bars can be healthy! This sandwich is made with easy sourdough flatbread and homegrown sprouts.

Meal Planning Resources

Here are the meal planning services (in no particular order) that I endorse for you to pick based on you and your family’s needs!

30 Minute Dinners from Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Cooksmarts (great community of people to learn from)

Real Plans (organizer to add your OWN recipes and replicate plans)

PrepDish (prep ahead, easy meals all week)

Kitchen & Meal Planning Binder by Nourishing Joy

Customizable Low Fodmap Meal Plans

Health Home and Happiness Grain-Free Meal Plans for GAPS Diet

Try out their freebies (some even have tree trials) to see what fits your personality and preferences! 

Beef Dinner Recipes

  • Shredded beef (either the Greek or Barbacoa), rice, salad – with make-ahead shredded beef, this meal comes together really quickly with a quick pot of rice and salad
  • Salad bar with shredded beef
  • Beef tacos with barbacoa or ground beef and your favorite taco toppings
  • Nachos topped with barbacoa or ground beef
  • Broccoli Parmesan Pasta with shredded Greek-style roast
beef roast
pinto bean tostadas recipe

Other Protein Dinner Recipes

Snack plate dinner
Snack plates are easy and delicious!

Vegetarian

sheet pan pancakes
cauliflower mac and cheese
quinoa tabbouleh

20-Minute Meals for Families

I hope these quick meal ideas help you get healthy dinners on the table for your family. Real food is important because we want to bring our best selves to all those activities that keep us busy.

Let’s fuel our bodies well, decrease our stress, and keep things simple during busy seasons!

What are your favorite go-to quick meals?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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