2 weeks of healthy dinner ideas
Save time during busy weeks with our two-week menu planner, designed by a dietitian
How to use the Best Health menu plan
According to a survey by the Dietitians of Canada, 70 percent of us say we need more time, ideas or planning to get supper on the table. Having a weekly menu is the answer, but fewer than 10 percent of Canadians are actually organized enough to map out their weekly dinners in advance. In reality, 40 percent of us plan dinner on the same day or-yikes-even at the last minute.
This two-week dinner planner is designed to help take some of the stress out of mealtimes. Based on the latest nutrition recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide, each weekly dinner menu includes at least two fish recipes plus plenty of veggies and whole grains. Since the Food Guide also encourages us to eat beans, lentils and tofu often, there are also a few vegetarian options. Each recipe feeds at least a family of four.
Week One: Sunday
Curry Chicken & Rice Casserole
(283 calories per serving)
Serve this with a side salad and fresh, whole-grain roll.
Nutrition tips: Brown rice is a nutritious whole grain with two and a half times more iron, and about four times more fibre and magnesium, than white rice. This recipe also includes Swiss chard, which is packed with lutein-an antioxidant that keeps our eyes healthy.
Get ahead: Cooked casseroles are perfect for freezing. Make an extra batch of this recipe on the weekend, and freeze it for up to three months. Prevent freezer burn by double-wrapping the casserole dish with some aluminum foil. Make sure to label it with the recipe name and date it was prepared.
(279 calories per serving)
These baked falafels are healthier than deep-fried. Serve them with tahini sauce.
Nutrition tips: Aim for “Meatless Mondays” every week. Going meat-free on Mondays is endorsed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It aims to help people improve their own health as well as the planet’s. To boost your body’s absorption of iron from non-meat foods, have a glass of orange juice or some other vitamin C-rich food along with the meal.
Get ahead: Save time by grating the carrot in advance and store it in an airtight container in the veggie crisper. Chop extra and pack them in your kids’ lunches.
Beef & Sweet Potato Stir-Fry
(328 calories per serving)
Sweet potatoes and yellow peppers add texture and nutrition.
Nutrition tips: Sweet potatoes have more disease-fighting beta-carotene than any other vegetable (yes, even more than carrots!). Beef is a source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Choose lean beef cuts and serve with leftover brown rice.
Get ahead: Cut up the pepper and sweet potato a few days ahead. Keep them in the fridge in an airtight container.
(460 calories per serving)
Snow peas and cherry tomatoes give this dish a colour boost.
Nutrition tips: Salmon gets two thumbs up for its DHA (docosaexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fat that helps fight heart disease and is key for healthy brain and eye development. Serve this recipe with a side dish of cooked whole-wheat couscous.
Get ahead: Make the marinade in the morning. Cover it and refrigerate. Double the couscous and save for Friday.
Pasta & Chicken Salad with Basil
(533 calories per serving)
This salad bursts with flavour and includes wine, olives and lemon.
Nutrition tips: Lemon juice and fresh basil add lots of flavour without adding extra fat. For variety, use different shapes of whole-wheat pasta or tri-coloured vegetable pasta the next time you make this recipe.
Get ahead: Cut up cooked chicken breasts for this recipe a day or two ahead of time, and store in an airtight container.
(268 calories per serving)
Serve this with couscous and leftover stir-fry veggies.
Nutrition tips: Atlantic mackerel is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. But if mackerel isn’t available, try farmed trout. Using either fresh or frozen fish is fine. Bonus: This dish is easy to make and you can have it ready in 10 minutes.
Get ahead: If you’re using a frozen fish, you can save some time by defrosting it in the fridge the night before.
(494 calories per serving)
If the kids nix the mussels, squid or shrimp, use diced ham or lean meatballs.
Nutrition tips: Cap the calorie count of pasta dishes by using tomato-based sauces like this one instead of creamy sauces. Serve this dish with a mixed green salad tossed with some low-cal dressing.
Get ahead: Keep frozen shrimp, seafood, diced ham and lean meatballs on hand to help speed up the prep time for this meal.
Week Two: Sunday
Sweet & Sour Pork
(531 calories per serving)
A light sauce and no deep-frying makes this a healthier version.
Nutrition tips: The corn and pineapple found in this recipe provide flavour and contain folate, a B-vitamin that’s important during preconception and pregnancy. Serve this dish with a side salad.
Get ahead: Cut and marinate the pork a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.
(291 calories per serving)
For this week’s “Meatless Monday,” try this easy egg recipe.
Nutrition tips: Buy eggs that are enriched with extra nutrients such as omega-3 fat and lutein. Serve this with a small whole-grain bun and green salad.
Get ahead: Make an extra frittata and freeze each portion separately in a microwave-safe container for up to two months.
Bulgur Wheat & Shrimp Salad
(366 calories per serving)
You can try ham, chicken or feta cheese instead of shrimp.
Nutrition tips: The bright colours of the carrots, tomatoes and corn are signs of their disease-fighting antioxidants.
Get ahead: Prepare double the amount of bulgur. You can keep the extra in the fridge and serve it next day with the Maple Baked Salmon.
Click here for the recipe.
Maple Baked Salmon with Almonds
(260 calories per serving)
Maple syrup makes anything taste delicious!
Nutrition tips: Salmon is loaded with omega-3s, and almonds contain the most vitamin E of any nut. Serve with steamed veggies and Tuesday’s leftover bulgur.
Get ahead: Keep frozen veggies on hand. They need zero prep, and they’re perfect for steaming and stir-frying.
Fried Rice with Tofu & Vegetables
(404 calories per serving)
The marinade in this dish makes for tasty tofu.
Nutrition tips: Tofu is a complete protein and a great meat alternative. Soy lowers cholesterol and risk of heart disease, and the vitamin C in the vegetables increases the iron absorption from tofu.
Get ahead: Prepare the marinade and soak the tofu in it overnight.
Tuna & Tomato Pizza
(543 calories per serving)
This no-cheese pizza could become a new family favourite.
Nutrition tips: Buy canned light tuna (such as skipjack, tongol or yellowfin) because it contains less mercury than canned albacore (white) tuna. Serve with a green salad.
Get ahead: Keep store-bought pizza crust in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge the night before.
Chicken Burgers with Fruit Salsa
(581 calories per serving)
Mango and pineapple top this lean burger.
Nutrition tips: Eat only half of the bun if you’re watching calories. Top with romaine instead of iceberg lettuce. Romaine has almost 12 times more beta-carotene and nine times more vitamin C-wow!
Get ahead: Chop all of the salsa ingredients the day before.