What should i eat for dinner? With so many options, it can be super overwhelming… Will you burn more fat with one meal over another? Is there either a diet that’s better than all the others when it comes to weight loss? This article will take your mind off those nagging questions and answer what should I eat for dinner. I hope this information will help you a lot.
What Should I Eat for Dinner and When? A Dietitian’s Opinion
Do you often finding yourself asking, “What should I eat for dinner?” Or do you wonder when the best time to eat dinner is? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
As a dietitian, I’m going to tell you what to eat when you’re not sure what to eat for dinner AND how to know when the best time to eat dinner is! Now I want you to remember there is no right or wrong answer to “what should I eat for dinner?” There are actually many different foods and meals that you can enjoy for dinner.
What is very important though is to have a balanced dinner meal. Understanding what makes up a balanced dinner can be very beneficial.
There is some emerging research showing there are more ideal times to eat dinner, so I will address this topic for you as well. But let’s start by looking at how to build a balanced dinner meal.
What should I eat for dinner? Start with a balanced plate:
Vegetables provide your body with the bulk of your vitamins, antioxidants, fibre/fiber and phytochemicals. They should be your go-to food when you ask yourself questions like “what should I eat today?” or “what should I eat right now?”
Vegetables should always be part of the picture. Try filling half of your dinner plate with colourful/colorful vegetables and salad. This should equate to about three cups or more of salad or vegetables.
These could include mixed salad greens, baked vegetables, coleslaw mix and stir-fried vegetables.
Aim for at least three different coloured/colored vegetables, and in this case, more is better. In other words, eat the rainbow!
Carbohydrates are important to include in your dinner meal. Especially from a high fibre/fiber source, they keep you feeling full and your gut healthy. On top of that, they provide slow burning energy along with other essential nutrients.
Fill one quarter of your dinner plate with high fibre, slow burning carbohydrates. This should be roughly the size of your clenched fist.
Carbohydrates can include sweet potato, potato, corn, lentils, beans, chickpeas, whole grain rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta or whole grain bread.
Adding protein to your dinner is important, as it will keep your blood sugar levels more stable, which means less mood swings, more stable hormones and longer lasting fullness.
So fill the remaining quarter of your dinner plate with a lean protein. This will equal about the size of your palm or 100-150g (approx. 3-5 oz.).
Healthy protein options include fish (e.g. oily fish like salmon and tuna or white fish), lentils, eggs, beans, tofu and tempeh.
Finish balancing your dinner plate with a serving of healthy fats. This will be roughly about one or two tablespoons.
Fats will help you stay fuller for longer, allowing your body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins D, E, K and A and make your meal taste better.
Healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, which is used in cooking or as a dressing with avocado, nuts or seeds.
Simple Dinner Ideas for Healthy Eating in Real Life
You may think that preparing healthy, delicious dinners at home is a complicated process, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.
Even though I love food and enjoy cooking, I like to keep it simple when it comes to mealtime. This means choosing recipes that are easy to follow and don’t involve complicated cooking techniques or seemingly never-ending steps.
Here are 10 of my go-to simple dinner recipes that can help you get a healthy meal on the table quickly.
1. Stuffed sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beneficial nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber
Plus, they’re delicious and pair well with just about anything. This makes them the perfect base on which to build a filling meal.
At my house, we prepare stuffed sweet potatoes at least once a week. I roast a whole sweet potato, then stuff it with ingredients like sautéed veggies, beans, chicken, and cheese.
This meal is super versatile, and you can choose from a variety of flavor combinations. You can try out one of the simple recipes below or wing it and simply pile your favorite ingredients onto a roasted sweet potato.
- Chicken Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes
2. Grain bowls
Grain bowls are a hit in my kitchen. My husband and I love how simple and adaptable grain bowls are and frequently prepare this dinner when we’re craving a flavorful yet easy-to-prepare meal.
I follow a gluten-free diet, so we use gluten-free grains like quinoa and brown rice. However, you can use any grain you want for grain bowls, including farro, millet, and barley.
Grains provide an important source of fiber and other nutrients like magnesium. Studies have found that diets rich in grains are linked to a lower risk of several health conditions, including colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes
To prepare a grain bowl, top a serving of cooked grains with cooked or raw veggies and a protein source like chicken, fried or hard-boiled eggs, grilled shrimp, or salmon.
Then top it with a store-bought or homemade dressing, or keep it simple with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.
For example, this Green Goddess Buddha Bowl uses an irresistible combination of brown rice, roasted broccoli, sugar snap peas, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a creamy yogurt-based sauce.
Here are a few more grain bowl recipes that make a perfect dinner option for nights when you’re short on time:
- Thai Chicken Buddha Bowls
- Salmon Grain Bowls with Lemon Tahini Sauce
- Sweet Potato & Chickpea Buddha Bowl
3. Veggie loaded frittatas
When you have chickens like I do, eggs make their way into more than just breakfast meals. We regularly use eggs as the protein source for quick and tasty dinners, including frittatas.
Eggs have you covered when it comes to healthy fat and protein, so all you need to do is add a variety of your favorite veggies to cover your fiber needs.
Some of my favorite vegetables to use in frittatas include asparagus, spinach, sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and tomatoes. You can also add in ingredients like cheese, herbs, spices, or pesto to give your frittata extra flavor.
You can even use leftovers like salmon, shredded chicken, and potatoes in your frittata.
I like to serve frittata with some sliced avocado or fresh fruit. It’s a filling meal that you can enjoy at any time of the day or night. Frittatas are super simple to make, and you can whip them up in under an hour.
Here are a few tasty and easy frittata recipes:
- Spring Vegetable Frittata
- Cheesy Chicken Pepper Broccoli Frittata
- Wild Mushroom Frittata with Cheddar, Green Onions, and Peas
4. Dinner salad
A large, filling salad is one of my go-to dinners, especially when I’m not feeling up to putting time into a meal.
The problem with most salads is that they’re not well composed, and you end up feeling hungry again just a short while after finishing your meal. The key to making a hearty dinner salad is making sure that you include plenty of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
Start with a base of your favorite greens, such as spinach, mixed greens, arugula, kale, or romaine. Add a few more veggies, such as peppers, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, or red onions, to your greens to bump up the fiber content.
Then choose a protein source like grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, or hard-boiled eggs. Adding a fiber-rich carb source, such as beans or roasted sweet potatoes, will bump the fullness factor even higher.
Top your creation with roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds for a crunchy texture, then drizzle it with a healthy dressing like olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or follow this recipe for Homemade Green Goddess Dressing.
Here are a few more dinner salad ideas:
- Chicken Shawarma Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Superfood Salmon Salad
- Crunchy Asian Chopped Salad
5. Loaded brown rice pasta
Most everyone loves a good pasta dish, but most pasta dishes don’t contain the necessary ingredients, such as protein and fiber, to keep you feeling satisfied
Fortunately, using a few simple tips can help you create a filling and nutritious pasta dinner in no time.
First, choose your pasta. I am a big fan of Tinkyada brown rice pasta, but you can use any pasta you like. You can also use zucchini noodles in place of pasta if you’re following a lower carb dietary pattern.
Next, pick a source of protein. I like to use chicken breast or ground chicken or, if I want plant-based protein, I will add chickpeas.
Next, choose your veggies. I love a classic combo of spinach and broccoli, but almost any vegetable will work. Lastly, pick a sauce, such as pesto, marinara, or olive oil.
Here are a few recipes to try out the next time you’re craving a pasta dish:
- Broccoli Pesto Chicken Pasta
- Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Pasta Salad
- Zucchini Noodles with Mini Chicken Feta and Spinach Meatballs
What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight
Find out what dinner foods can help you lose weight healthfully.
Find out what dinner foods can help you lose weight healthfully.
When you’re trying to slim down, every meal-and calorie-counts. But that doesn’t mean that dinner has to be a skimpy salad. You can build a filling, diet-friendly dinner (that includes dessert) around these four slimming ingredients.
1. Salad Greens
Start your supper with a simple salad: it’s low in calories and research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can cut your overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. Plus, a vegetable-packed salad delivers fiber, a must-have when you’re dieting. Fiber helps you stay satisfied longer-and, according to one study, upping your fiber intake may help prevent extra pounds from creeping on and even promote weight loss.
2. Lean Protein
Beef, chicken, pork, fish, tofu or beans-it doesn’t matter which you pick-all are protein-rich. Gram for gram, protein will keep you feeling fuller longer compared to carbohydrates and fat (read: help keep those midnight snack attacks at bay). And don’t forget about dairy: recent research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that the protein in dairy (called whey protein) may help ward off weight gain and help build lean body mass.
3. Whole Grains
You probably already know that for overall health you should be making at least half of your grains whole grains. But choosing whole grains-such as brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread-100 percent of the time may give you an extra edge when it comes to weight loss. When researchers put volunteers on a three-month weight-loss program and instructed one group to eat only whole grains for their grain servings and the other group to choose only refined grains (and avoid whole grains entirely), the whole-grain eaters melted significantly more abdominal fat. While the fiber in whole grains may deserve some of the credit, researchers note that whole grains are rich in magnesium, a mineral instrumental in regulating fat metabolism.
Though this isn’t exactly an ingredient, it’s pretty sweet news that it may be easier to stick to your diet if it includes a little sweet treat? Well, it’s true. Banning sugary foods could lead to overeating. Removing access to sweet foods stimulates the release of a molecule in your brain called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), produced when you’re afraid, anxious or stressed, says Pietro Cottone, Ph.D., who studied what happens when people give up sweets. And increased stress levels may lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods, making it more likely that you’ll binge on junk food.
When is the best time to eat dinner?
There are many factors to consider when deciding what is the best time to eat dinner. You need to think about your lifestyle, health, hunger levels, family, personal preferences and when you eat your other meals.
While there is also no right or wrong answer to how often should you eat, there is some emerging research showing there are more ideal times to eat, or not eat, including dinner.