Rule of 7: 7 dinner ideas to keep you healthy

'Fakeaway' not takeaway can mean curry isn't pure guilt on a Friday..
‘Fakeaway’ not takeaway can mean curry isn’t pure guilt on a Friday..

Dinner can be the easiest and yet the hardest meal of the day. Imagine coming in from work, tired, worn out – how easy is it to grab the takeaway menu? One in ten Britons have 2 takeaways a week, one in twenty have 3! When considering meals quick and easy is always the best way forward during the week, but keeping it healthy can be another challenge as well when ready meals are far too tempting. So here are 7 varied dinner ideas to help you keep healthy.

1. Stir Fry

The quickest of them all. Pick up a pack of stir fry veg from the local supermarket. Throw in strips of meat, or mince, or some prawns – throw in some nuts for extra protein and cook some noodles on the side. A stir fry can be anything you want it to be – all you have to do is be imaginative with your seasonings – fresh ginger, garlic, chinese five spice, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce. A well stocked store cupboard, a bit of imagination and you could have a stir fry to rival a local restaurant in about ten minutes.

2. Casserole

OK, this involves preparation – but everyone knows that planning is key to keeping healthy. The simplicity of a good casserole is that you can prep it either the night before and put in the fridge or in the morning, and leave it on auto timer in the oven. Either way you will end up with a delicious healthy meal when you walk through the door. Again casseroles don’t need a particular recipe – they are extremely simple to do. Pick a joint of meat that will cook well, whether it be stewing steak, lamb, chicken or what. Slice some onions, some mushrooms, any other hardy veg you want in there. Put some stock over the top of it, season well and put it in the oven for a couple of hours and done. Very simple and very easy.

3. Fish Bake

Healthy diets need to include fish, poultry and meat. In many ways a good piece of fish is quicker to cook than meat is. It can also be very simple to do. A piece of salmon sprinkled with lemon juice, covered and put in the oven for twenty minutes. If salmon isn’t your thing then baked cod can be just as nice, again only taking twenty minutes in the oven. If you’re stuck for a sauce, then a tin of cherry tomatoes with some seasoning can provide something quick and easy. Alternatively if your feeling more adventurous, roast some veg with a little vegetable stock and put the fish on top to cook – either way it’ll be really tasty.

4. Fakeaway

Curries are made with ghee, chinese is full of salt and sugar, and as for pizza with all that cheese – takeaways maybe a quick option they aren’t a healthy one though admittedly some choices are better than others. However you can fakeaway it at home and still stay healthy. Take a lamb rogan josh for example. All you need to do is throw some diced lamb, onions, garlic and ginger in a pan until tender, then add some stock, curry powder and a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes and you’ve got a curry right there. It might not be as quick and simple as you like – but when it takes an hour for the takeaway to deliver on a Friday night I bet you could do it a damn sight quicker than they could!

5. Sunday/Midweek Roast

Everyone (well maybe not veggies) loves a good roast. Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, turkey – it’s all good. The great thing is you whack it in the oven and a couple of hours later your meal is there for you – especially if you’ve put potatoes and veg around the oven to roast part way through as well. As long as you pick a lean joint of meat or opt for poultry there is no reason why this shouldn’t be a healthy meal. Vegetables don’t need tossing in olive oil, potatoes don’t need dripping in duck fat to roast. Dry roasting or using an oil mister can be just as effective at getting top quality roasted veg. A bit of thought and effort and this is the highlight of the week.

6. Go veggie!

Consider frying some vegetables in a wok, then adding some mixed beans and chopped tomatoes. To meat eaters this sounds like an accompaniment to a meal – but let’s be honest, it isn’t – it’s a main meal. Lentils contain 26g of protein per 100g – and they have virtually no fat. They could go into a casserole, a bake, a curry – and often take just as long to cook but can be even healthier. Variety is key and remember this with the meal ideas so you don’t get bored!

7. Salad

With summer approaching there are times when hot meals just won’t do. Salad doesn’t just have to be lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Add peppers, sweetcorn, pomegranate seeds, red onion, or any other fruit or veg to liven it up. Dressings can be simple with balsamic vinegar, and if you mix in lentils or lay your meat/poultry on top of the salad then the flavours of that will easily be absorbed into your salad too. Quick to prepare, again the key is planning to a quick and easy healthy meal… and yes that means hold the mayo!