Healthy Meat and Veggie Meals You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

Salmon with fresh salad meat and veggie meal idea
Photo: Claudia Totir/Getty Images

Pump up the protein and score a serving (or several) of veg with these weeknight meat-and-veggie dinners.

01 of 09

Our Fave Meat and Veggie Meals Made for Crazy-Busy Weeknights

Claudia Totir/Getty

Cooking for yourself can do more than save you a bit of money (compared to swinging through the drive-through or ordering Seamless...again). Channeling your inner Ina Garten or Chrissy Teigen with these meat and veggie meals (or any home-cooked recipes) has been proven to a brighter mood and higher self-esteem, according to a review by the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

Use the beef, chicken, and pork recipes ahead to boost your mood and nourish your body with a new meat and veggie meal each night of the week. (ICYMI, the latest guidelines say there's no need to cut back on red meat.)

02 of 09

Beef Stir-Fry with Avocado Salad

Peter Ardito

Recipe developed by Anna Berman

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 12 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro plus more for garnish, chopped
  • Corn tortillas (optional)


1. In a bowl, combine beef, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 tablespoon chili powder; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, and poblano and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add beef and marinade to vegetables and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Season the meat and veggie meal with salt and black pepper.

4. In another bowl, combine beans, avocado, cheese, 1/4 cup cilantro, and remaining lime juice and chili powder.

5. Garnish beef and vegetables with remaining cilantro. Serve with avocado salad and warmed tortillas if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving: 436 calories, 28g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 26g fat (7g saturated), 10g fiber

03 of 09

Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables

Peter Ardito

Recipe developed by Anna Berman

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders, lightly pounded
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta


1. In a zip-top bag, combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, and 2 teaspoons thyme; season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add chicken tenders, seal the bag, and gently turn to coat. Set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot, remaining garlic, edamame, and tomatoes; saute 4 minutes.

3. Use a vegetable peeler to slice zucchini into long ribbons. Add zucchini and remaining lemon juice and thyme to vegetables in skillet; saute 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, stir in feta, and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

4. Add remaining oil to skillet. Remove chicken from marinade and saute 2 to 3 minutes a side or until cooked through. Serve with vegetables.

Nutrition facts per serving: 327 calories, 28g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 13g fat (3g saturated), 5g fiber

04 of 09

Mustard-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Brussels Sprout Ragout

Peter Ardito

Recipe developed by Liza Schoenfein

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 10 ounces Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds), butterflied
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta or bacon
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves


1. In a medium pot fitted with a steamer, steam Brussels sprouts 8 minutes.

2. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper on pork and then spread with mustard. In a 12-inch skillet, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat; add pork and cook 7 minutes. Turn and cook 6 minutes more; remove from pan and slice. Add wine and chicken broth to pan and stir, scraping up brown bits; set aside and keep warm.

3. Warm remaining olive oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta or bacon and saute until brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add onion; cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Add cherries, sage, and Brussels sprouts; cook 3 minutes more. Season with remaining salt and black pepper.

4. On a platter, arrange pork and vegetables; drizzle the meat and veggie meal with sauce. Serve.

Nutrition facts per serving: 386 calories, 35g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 19g fat (4.9g saturated), 3g fiber

05 of 09

Chicken Soba Bowl

Peter Ardito

Recipe developed by Anna Berman

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced lemongrass or lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger (one of the healthiest roots on the planet!)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 6 ounces soba noodles
  • 2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 4 baby bok choy, quartered
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves (optional)


1. In a large bowl, whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, serrano pepper, lemongrass or lemon zest, and ginger.

2. Fill a large skillet 3/4 full with water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring to a simmer. Add chicken tenders and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is tender. Drain chicken and shred directly into bowl with dressing.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add soba and shiitakes; cook 3 minutes. Add bok choy and broccoli; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until noodles are al dente.

4. Drain noodles and vegetables and add to bowl with chicken and dressing. Toss gently to combine. Garnish the meat and veggie meal with basil, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving: 377 calories, 37g protein, 50g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 6g fiber

Power Food

Chicken is not just a low-cal way to get your protein. Half a breast has more than three-quarters of your daily intake of vitamin B3 (niacin), which boosts levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Chicken is also high in other B vitamins that allow your body to convert food into usable energy. And three ounces has almost half your daily dose of selenium, which helps keep blood sugar stable.

06 of 09

Grilled Beef with Basil Puree Over Tuscan Beans

Peter Ardito

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings


  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound 1-1/2-inch-thick sirloin steak, cut into 4 portions
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion


1. In a food processor, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, 1 cup of the basil leaves, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt ,and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Puree until smooth; set aside.

2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high and mist with cooking spray. Halve one garlic clove and rub the steaks with its cut sides. Season meat with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper. Grill 5 to 6 minutes a side.

3. Mince remaining garlic and saute in pan coated with nonstick spray over medium-low heat for 2 minutes; let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine the white beans, tomatoes, red onion, remaining salt and black pepper, and sauteed garlic. Tear up remaining basil and combine with bean mixture.

4. Divide beans among four plates and top with steak. Add basil puree on top of the meat and veggie meal and serve.

Nutrition facts per serving: 478 calories, 35g protein, 32g carbohydrate, 28g fat (7.5g saturated), 11g fiber

Beef Up

This dish is typically made with juicy, buttery tenderloin. But at a price that can reach $28 a pound, it's not exactly a bargain. That's why we substituted sirloin. It's about one-third the price per pound, extremely flavorful, and equally lean, with fewer than 210 calories per 3-ounce serving. (Tenderloin has 232 calories.) Because sirloin is a slightly tougher cut of meat, be sure to cook the steaks just five to six minutes a side for medium rare and six to seven minutes for medium.

07 of 09

Lemony Fusilli with Chicken, Zucchini, and Pine Nuts

Peter Ardito

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Makes: 4 servings


  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 8 ounces whole wheat fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 slender zucchini, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 lemon, rind peeled in strips
  • Small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 5 large basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)


1. Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil; add the fusilli. Cook until al dente.

2. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the zucchini, scallions, pine nuts, lemon peel, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook, tossing frequently, until zucchini is well browned and tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer zucchini to a serving bowl. Remove lemon peel from pan. Mince 1/2 teaspoon of the peel and discard the rest. Squeeze half the lemon over the zucchini.

4. Turn heat to medium-high and swirl in remaining olive oil. Add the chicken, minced lemon peel, and remaining salt; cook, stirring, until golden, about 7 minutes.

5. Drain fusilli, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add fusilli, zucchini, and reserved cooking water to skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and top with the basil and, if using, Parmesan. (Watching your carb intake? Try this meat and veggie meal with veggie or legume noodles.)

Nutrition facts per serving: 426 calories, 32g protein, 49g carbohydrate, 14g fat (2.2g saturated), 6g fiber

08 of 09

Chicken BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Peter Ardito

Recipe developed by Laraine Perri

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings


  • 4 slices turkey or regular pork bacon
  • 4 1-inch-thick slices ciabatta bread
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, well shaken
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups tightly packed chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed


1. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble into large pieces.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the ciabatta slices with the olive oil and grill until just toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Lightly rub the cut garlic clove halves over the surface of each slice. Let the bread cool, then cut into 1-inch cubes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, minced garlic, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, croutons, and half the bacon. Toss well. Transfer the meat and veggie meal to plates and top each serving with some of the remaining bacon. (BTW, have you heard about plant-based bacon?!)

Nutrition facts per serving: 295 calories, 28g protein, 20g carbohydrate, 11g fat (2.8g saturated), 3g fiber

Salad Smarts

Keep your dinner or side greens healthy, not to mention yummy, with these quick tips from Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater's Diet.

  • Splurge a little. Yes, cheese, avocado, and nuts are high in calories and fat, but they taste good!
  • Adding a few of your favorite toppings will make your salad more satisfying.
  • Dish it out. If you buy a prepared salad, resist the temptation to eat it straight from the container.
  • Instead, put it on a plate so you can see how much you've got. Chances are, the portion size is bigger than you think.
  • Make a fresh start. Filling up on a salad of water-rich veggies before dinner may help you munch less of your meal.

- Danielle Alvarez

09 of 09

Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions


Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large red onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 beef flank steak, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 7- to 8-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained, warmed


1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the bell pepper strips, sage, and oregano. Stirring constantly, cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are golden and the peppers are crisp-tender.

2. Preheat a grill pan (such as this Lodge 10 1/2-inch Cast-Iron Square Grill Pan; Buy it: $20.99, over medium-high heat. Trim fat from the steak; score on both sides by making shallow cuts at 1-inch intervals in a diamond pattern. Rub with salt and black pepper. Grill 8 to 12 minutes for medium rare or 12 to 15 minutes for medium, turning once.

3. To serve this meat and veggie meal, thinly slice the steak diagonally across the grain and top with the onion mixture. Serve with warm tortillas and black beans on the side.

Nutrition facts per serving: 434 calories, 40g protein, 36g carbohydrate, 15g fat (6.5g saturated), 7g fiber

How to Choose the Best Steak

Need dinner on the table fast? Flank steak is easy to prepare, quick to cook, and low in calories, says Boston-area chef Michael Schlow, author of the cookbook It's About Time. "It absorbs marinades well and grills evenly." Here, Schlow's tips for buying the best steak.

Be picky. Look for a cut that is deep red in color and has white specks of fat, which give the meat flavor.

Buy a thick cut. Choose a steak that's 1 to 2 inches thick so it will be brown on the outside but medium rare on the inside after grilling.

Serve, don't store. The steak will stay fresh for up to three days, but for the juiciest texture and best flavor, marinate and cook it within a day or two of purchase.

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