15 Dietitian-Approved Weeknight Dinners in 15 Minutes or Less

What busy parent doesn’t love a quick, easy, and nourishing supper recipe that can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less? What’s even better is when said recipe is both budget-friendly and planet-friendly!

Below you’ll find tips and tricks from our registered dietitian, Sarah Remmer, on how to plan for and prep nourishing suppers on busy weeknights, and some of her most tried-and-true recipes to get you started!

Fortify Convenience Meals

As a busy mom of three, I understand the daily struggle of putting together nutritious meals on a time crunch (hello, after-school sports and activities!). Sound familiar? But here’s the secret: nutritious meals don’t have to be fancy and don’t require a ton of money, time, or planning. Most of the time, I’m throwing dinner together in 15 minutes or less, and you can too.

My best tip? Be a pencil, not an eraser. Stay with me. What I mean by this is that there’s no need to ditch the “convenience meals”. These meals often get a bad rap for being “unhealthy” or “less nutritious” than from-scratch meals, but I tend to disagree. They CAN be nourishing and quite honestly, are often sanity-saving too. So instead of feeling guilty for leaning into convenience, consider what you can ADD to these meals to boost the nutrition and staying power.

Here are some examples:

  1. Sprinkle on some nutritional yeast. Mix into spaghetti noodles or jarred pasta sauce to add nutrition and a savory flavor, or mix into prepared boxed macaroni and cheese or sprinkle onto frozen pizza to bump up the nutritional content (protein, iron, b-vitamins and more).
  2. Add lentils! Mix canned rinsed lentils into tomato sauce served over pasta, or substitute half of the ground beef for lentils when making tacos, burritos, or sloppy joes. Lentils are a budget-friendly and loaded full of protein, iron, fibre and more.
  3. Cook it in bone broth. Cook rice or pasta in bone broth for added nutrition and flavor, or sprinkle powdered (dried) bone broth onto any savory dish to add protein, vitamins and minerals and electrolytes.

The options are endless! For more ideas, check out these easy hacks to add nutrition to your family meals. Plus, check out these ways to add more protein to your plate.

fostering healthy relationship with food young girls

The Importance of Planning Ahead

I can imagine you’ve probably heard this time and time again, but I really can’t stress enough the importance of planning ahead (even just a little bit) for weeknight meals. If this feels daunting (trust me, I get it!), here’s where to start:

  1. Pick 3 (and only 3!) recipes. Start by planning out three recipes for the week (psst: I’ve done the work for you – keep reading for my top family-friendly recipes) ensuring you have the necessary ingredients on hand. Take stock of what you already have and order any missing groceries through Spud’s shoppable page that I created (I wanted to make it super easy for you!).
  2. Repurpose. When you DO spend the time to cook, cook extra for later (especially when it comes to the protein). For example, if you’re making the Korean Beef Tacos (recipe below), make extra beef and repurpose it for Korean Beef Bowls, to top salads with, or put inside quesadillas). With a rough plan in place, you can repurpose meals (or parts of meals) to make brand-new (easy!) meals when life gets busy.
  3. Get the kiddos involved. Don’t go at this alone! There is so much evidence to support the benefits of getting your kids into the kitchen and involved in meal planning and preparation as well as having family meals together. There are endless benefits, from teaching them valuable life skills to fostering a positive relationship with food.

Reducing Food Waste for a Happier Planet (and Wallet):

Here’s a staggering stat according to the National Zero Waste Council:

63% of the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten.

What this means is that the average Canadian household throws away 140 kilograms of food per year. That’s approximately $1,300 down the drain per year! Eek.

So, in honour of Earth Day, let’s talk about the importance of reducing food waste when planning and prepping weeknight meals. It’s a win-win situation: not only are you saving money, but you’re also doing your part to protect the environment.

Here are some ways you can reduce food waste today:

  • Do a quick fridge audit to catch items before they go bad. Make a recipe around those ingredients and upcycle that food.
  • Keep your fridge and pantry organized, rotating the older food to the front and putting new food behind.
  • Take “best before” dates with a grain of salt. These dates don’t mean that a food has “expired” or “gone bad”, they only mean that the manufacturer can guarantee freshness up until that date. Check for signs of spoilage first of course, but know that you might not have to throw it out just because the “best before” date has come.
  • Use imperfect produce. Order imperfect produce through Spud!
  • Repurpose leftovers (see details above).
  • Store ingredients properly to extend their shelf life.
  • Repurpose food around the house. There are so many cool ways to use food scraps in your garden or indoor plants.
  • Batch book and freeze

Check out Spud’s blog for more brilliant ways to fight food waste. Together, we can make a difference, one meal at a time. 😊

Quick and Nourishing Recipes in 15-Minutes

Now, time for the good stuff! Here are three 15-minute recipes to add to your weeknight rotation:

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blt pasta salad

BLT Pasta Salad



Pasta Salad:

10 slices bacon cooked and diced, grease reserved

12 ounces pasta cooked and cooled

1 cup homemade Ranch dressing

1 ½ cup baby tomatoes diced

1 avocado diced

1/3 cup feta cheese (optional)

⅓ cup red onion diced

34 cups romaine lettuce

fresh parsley for garnish optional

Homemade ranch dressing:

¾ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon dried chives

½ teaspoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon dried dill weed

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Blend all Ranch dressing ingredients together in a small blender (or whisk by hand) and set aside

2. In a large bowl assemble the pasta, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, red onion, lettuce and bacon.

3. Pour the dressing over and toss to combine.

4. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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Korean Beef Tacos



¼ cup maple syrup or brown sugar

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or more to taste

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (like canola)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground beef

2 green onions, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

Small tortillas


Asian-style slaw

Sesame seeds

Green onion


1. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and ginger.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.

3. Stir in soy sauce mixture and green onions until well combined, allowing to simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.

4. Serve immediately, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds, if desired.

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Green Curry with Prawns



1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp green curry paste

1/3 cup green onion, diced

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

1 cup fresh snap peas

1 can lite or regular coconut milk

2 lbs raw, peeled prawns (thawed if frozen)

cooked rice for serving (could be leftover) – I could share a tip for reviving frozen rice

lime for garnish


1. Heat a high-sided large skillet over medium heat. Melt coconut oil in the pan, and add green curry paste, green onion, garlic, ginger, and snap peas, and stir to cook until snap peas turn a bright green colour.

2. Add coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a light boil and add prawns. Cook until just pink, lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

3. Serve over brown rice with a lime wedge and enjoy!

More 15-Minute Meal Ideas:

Breakfast for dinner:

1. French Toast or pancakes with Greek yogurt and fruit

2. Frittata with leftover meat, veggies, and cheese

3. Egg Bites and English muffins + salsa and fruit

4. Fruit, veggie and yogurt smoothie + whole grain toast with almond butter or egg

More ideas:

5. Boxed mac and cheese + nutritional yeast, frozen peas, leftover chicken, and a bagged salad

6. Tuna melts on whole wheat bun + raw veggies and hummus

7. Taco Salad bar (build your own taco salads)

8. Frozen pizza with leftover meat and nutritional yeast sprinkled on top

9. Grilled cheese sandwiches + canned veggie soup with lentils added to it

10. Ramen noodle bowl (made with bone broth) with sliced veggies, shredded chicken and a boiled egg 11. 15-minute coconut Thai chicken noodle soup (replace chicken broth with bone broth) + bagged or pre-prepared salad

12. Tuna salad made with mashed avocado and chopped celery on whole-grain toast or wrap

There you have it—my mini survival guide to busy weeknight meal prep! With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy delicious, nourishing meals without the stress.

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