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Five Delicious Dinner Ideas for Busy People

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Dinner time is a special kind of chaos. Trying to get a nutritious, whole foods meal on the tablet that all the picky eaters like before the kids snack themselves out of dinner in the short period of time you have between picking kids up from school/daycare/after school activities and hangry meltdown is beyond hard at times.

I want to feed my family meals that taste good and are healthy because I know the negative health impacts of processed foods, sugar, trans fats, artificial additives, and pesticides have on the health and wellness of our bodies. My energy, mood, focus, and sense of well-being not to mention weight all improve when I eat real food. Normalizing making food from scratch and eating without electronic distractions at a dinner table with my family shapes my children healthy eating habits. Seeing me eat vegetables is more powerful than telling my children to eat their vegetables. Eating as a family encourages culinary exploration and a willingness to experience new foods.

However, my patience at being interrupted every 5 minutes by my 4 year old sneaking into the freezer for a popsicle has it’s limits and grabbing fast food on the ride home or making a pb and j is much easier. I’m not above doing just these things from time to time but frankly I’d rather eat food that tastes good.

I suspect I am not the only busy working parent who needs some help from time to time figuring out dinner. In this blog I have five delicious, healthy and fast dinner ideas for you to try. If you don’t know what’s for dinner tonight try one of these recipes.

Five Delicious Dinner Ideas for Busy People

  1. Salmon & Mixed Veggies with Turmeric Infused Rice in 30 minutes

  2. Steak Salad with Massaged Kale

  3. Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

  4. Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa

  5. Seared Scallops - Warm Spinach Salad

Sheet Pan Salmon & mixed veggies with Turmeric Infused Rice

Makes 4 servings.


  • Salmon fillets approx. 4 to 6 oz each

  • Lemon Juice: ~ ¼ cup

  • Lemon—zest of 1 lemon

  • Garlic: 1 teaspoons garlic minced

  • Powdered garlic: 2 to 3 tsp

  • Fresh mixed veggies: 1 to 1.5 lbs (or use other vegetables or a combination of vegetables such as brussels sprouts, carrots cut on the bias, broccoli florets)

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 4 Tbs in divided

  • Dill Weed 1 tsp (fresh) or 1 Tbs if using dried

  • Capers: 1 to 2 Tbs

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Turn on oven to 350 degree F. Make sure oven rack in the upper middle of the oven.

  2. Lined lipped sheet pan with parchment and put green beans on it and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle season with powdered garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to coat green beans with oil and seasonings.

  3. Pat salmon fillets dry and season with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Place salmon on the parchment in skin side down in the center of sheet pan between not on top of green beans.

  4. In small bowl mix 1 tsp of minced garlic, small pinch of salt and pepper and lemon juice. Brush onto salmon fillets.

  5. Sprinkle capers on top of salmon fillets.

  6. Bake in over for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes and vegetables are tender.

Turmeric Infused Rice:


  • Basmati rice 1 cup, rinsed until water runs clear and drained.

  • Small onion (sweet, red or any variety) or half a large onion: diced into small pieces.

  • Garlic: 2 to 3 cloves minced

  • Butter, coconut/avocado/extra virgin olive oil: 2 Tbs

  • Turmeric: 1 tsp

  • Salt: ½ tsp

  • 2 cups water (can substitute chicken or vegetable broth)

  • Optional: Raisins or currents: 2 Tbs


  1. In medium (pot with lid) melt butter on medium. Sauté onions until softened and translucent (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally.

  2. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add Turmeric and stir well and sauté for 30 to 60 seconds.

  3. Add water (or broth) and salt and optional raisins/currents, put on lid, and bring back to boil.

  4. Add rinsed rice to boiling water and allow to come back to boil. Once boiling, stir well, cover with lid and turn heat to low/simmer.

  5. Cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes per package suggestions.

  6. After cooking, turn off burner, fluff rice, put lid on and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Steak Salad with Massaged Kale

Makes 4 servings.


  • Grass-fed flank or flat iron steak, 1 lb

  • Coarse sea salt, divided; 2 ½ tsp

  • Dried Italian herbs, 1 tsp

  • Freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp

  • Freshly grated lemon zest, ¼ tsp

  • Tuscan (Dino) kale, 2 bunches, stemmed and roughly chopped. (Pre- chopped kale is sold in stores but usually has the stems left in it. Can be prepped ahead of time and stored in refrigerator crisper.

  • Large Avocado, 1

  • Balsamic vinegar, 3 Tbsp

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp

  • Honey, 2 Tbsp

  • Carrots, 2 large, shredded (can buy pre-shredded)


  1. Preheat gas or charcoal grill or oven broiler.

  2. Lay the steak out on a cutting board or baking pan. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp of the salt, Italian herb blend, pepper, and lemon zest. Sprinkle each side of the steak liberally with the seasoning mixture and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes to allow deeper penetration of seasoning into meat.

  3. Grill or broil the steak over direct high heat for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil, and allow the steak to rest for 5 minutes. Once salad is done slice against the grain aiming for 4 to 5 slices per serving.

Salad preparation:

  1. Place kale in a large bowl.

  2. Scoop the avocado into the bowl. Drizzle in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and remaining 1 ½ tsp. salt.

  3. Using both hands, massage the avocado and dressing into the kale. It will start to take on a wilted appearance as it gets tender.

  4. Add the carrots and toss well.

  5. Serve salad with steak slices.

Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

Adapted by Katy McCauley from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (The Harvard Common Press, 2003).

Makes 4 servings.


  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp

  • Yellow onion, chopped, 1 small

  • Curry powder, 1 tsp

  • Coriander ground, 1 tsp

  • Cumin ground, ¾ teaspoon

  • Turmeric powder, ½ tsp

  • Cayenne powder, ¼ tsp

  • Green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped, 1 small

  • Garlic cloves, minced, 3 to 4 cloves (Frozen grated Garlic from Trader Joe's works great)

  • Fresh ginger, peeled and grated 1 Tbsp (Frozen grated Ginger from Trader Joe's works great)

  • Vegetable stock, 1 ½ cups

  • Diced tomatoes with juices, 14 oz can

  • Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, 2 medium

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Add the onions, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

  3. Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne.

  4. Add the bell pepper (or other vegetable if following the elimination diet), garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

  5. Add the stock and tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil.

  6. Reduce the heat to low and add the beans and sweet potatoes.

  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

  8. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice or with crusty slice of bread or roll if desired.

  9. Optional: For a thicker, creamier sauces, puree up to 2 cups of the mixture and stir back into the pot. Serve hot.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa

Adapted by Rachel Winstedt from Betty Crocker Diabetes Easy Family Meals Volume 15, Number 5.

Makes 4 servings.


  • Pork tenderloin, 1.5 lbs (or 2 loins ¾ lbs each)

  • Avocado oil, 1 Tbsp

  • Black pepper, 1 tsp

  • Cayenne pepper ground, ¼ to ½ tsp depending on preference

  • Coarse salt, ½ tsp

  • Pineapple tidbits, 8 oz can drained

  • Green onions/spring onions, 4, sliced on the diagonal

  • Sweet red bell pepper, chopped 1/2 cup chopped

  • Fresh mint leaves, chopped 2 Tbsp

  • Zest of 1 lime, ½ tsp

  • Lime juice 1 Tbsp

  • Salt, ¼ tsp


  1. Preheat gas or charcoal grill. If using an oven to cook, preheat the broiler on high setting for 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. Brush/rub ½ Tbsp avocado oil on each pork tenderloin; sprinkle with peppers and ½ tsp salt.

  3. Prepare grill rack by brushing with avocado oil. Place Pork on grill over medium heat. If using broiler cooking method Place pork tenderloin on oven safe pan and broil on top rack (4 to 5 inches from heating element).

  4. Cook pork tenderloin for 20 to 30 minutes making sure to cover grill. Turn pork 3 to 4 times during the cooking process to ensure its even cooking. The pork is done once meat has reached 160 degrees F (and pork has a slight pink tint to center of loin when sliced).

  5. Remove pork tenderloin from grill and let rest covered in aluminum foil for 5 minutes before slicing.

  6. Combine remaining ingredients in bowl for salsa and let flavors meld. Salsa can be made 24 hours head of time and kept in refrigerator.

  7. Serve slices of Pork Tenderloin topped with Pineapple Salsa.

Seared Scallops - Warm Spinach Salad

Adapted by Rachel Winstedt from A Real Restaurant Recipe by Donna Hager (

Makes 4 servings.


  • Baby spinach, well washed, 9 oz/ ~ 8 cups lightly packed)

  • Sliced almonds, toasted, ¾ cup

  • Extra virgin olive oil, 4 Tbs

  • Salted Butter, 1 Tbs

  • Sea scallops, medium size, 1 lb

  • Roasted red peppers cut into thin strips, 4 ounces/~ ½ cup

  • Shallots, sliced thin, 2 medium

  • Ground black pepper, 1/8 tsp

  • Sherry vinegar, 1 ½ Tbsp

  • Salt and pepper to taste for sea scallops prior to cooking.


  1. Place sea scallops between paper towels and gentle pat them dry. Keep in paper towels until ready to transfer to hot pan.

  2. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl, add the almonds and set aside.

  3. Heat a large cast iron pan or thick-bottom nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat until very hot. Make sure your pan is big enough to not crowed the sea scallops while cooking. May need 2 pans or to cook in 2 batches in which increase olive oil and butter accordingly.

  4. Add 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs salted butter into a skillet, melt and swirl to coat the pan.

  5. Place the scallops in the pan and season with half of the salt and pepper. Sear on the first side, without touching or flipping, for about 3 minutes, or until golden.

  6. Use tongs and turn them over.

  7. Cook until medium-rare (about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. The sides will have firmed and all but the middle third of each piece of seafood will be opaque)

  8. Transfer the scallops to a plate,

  9. Over medium heat, add remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet and allow to return to temperature for 30 seconds before adding red peppers, shallots, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.

  10. Cook until the shallots soften slightly (about 2 minutes).

  11. Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the vinegar.

  12. Pour the warm dressing over the spinach and toss to wilt.

  13. Divide the spinach salad among 4 plates and top with cooked sea scallops.

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