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Stop ordering DoorDash: Healthy dinner ideas and tips when you work 40+ hours a week

Because the last thing you want to do after a long day of work is hours of cooking

Lean meat with vegetables
Sam Moghadam Khamseh / Unsplash

After a long day at work, ordering meals on DoorDash can sound extra appealing. Often, the last thing we want to do when coming home from work is spend time thinking about what to make for dinner, preparing it, and cleaning it up. As appealing as this sounds, ordering DoorDash several times a week can quickly make a dent in your wallet. Not to mention, restaurant food portions are often too big, contain inflammatory seed oils, and have way too much salt — which can be harmful to your health.

Healthy eating can be challenging for full-time workers, but not impossible. Incorporating simple adjustments can make it easier to consume healthy meals, even when you’re exhausted after a long day. Consuming healthy foods for dinner can also help you feel better, providing the important nutrients and minerals you need to feel (and work) your best. Try these healthy dinner idea hacks to save both time and money.

Meal prep
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Use meal prep to your advantage

For many, the term “meal prep” is associated with calorie counting and precise macros, often seen on social media by fitness influencers. Although meal prep is helpful for those who want to track specific macronutrients, meal prepping can also be used as a way to save time. After a full day of work, preparing an elaborate healthy meal that takes hours to cook is simply off the table. Instead, meal prepping on the weekends can help you save time and ensure you’re eating well every night, even when you’re short on time.

Meal prepping in advance means you can choose two to three healthy dinner recipes for the week — providing enough variety so you don’t get bored. Preparing your dinners in advance also means you’ll have fewer dishes to clean up every evening and more time to relax. Carving out a few hours on the weekend to meal prep can go a long way to saving time throughout the week.

Remember, your meal prep dinner recipes don’t need to be overly elaborate, and they are cheap, healthy meals that save time and money. Turning to budget-friendly grocery hacks, such as using imperfect food companies, can help you save money on ingredients, too. Selecting recipes with fewer ingredients like these 5-ingredient healthy dinners can make healthy eating easier and also reduce your meal prep time.

Sheet pan fish with lemon and capers
Rosalind Chang / Unsplash

Find your favorite sheet-pan dinner recipes

Sheet-pan dinners are a fan-favorite hack to help you save time and take away the question of how to eat healthy. These easy dinners include both protein and vegetables which cook together in the oven on a baking sheet. With only one pan containing all ingredients, the time required to prepare sheet pan dinners is minimal. Sheet pan recipes also give you tons of flexibility to change up recipes based on your food preferences, with options that include different types of protein and various veggies.

For example, this Greek lemon chicken and potato sheet pan recipe contains the perfect balance of fat, protein, and carbs for a wholesome dinner. You are likely to have many of the ingredients that you need for this recipe already in your pantry, too, such as lemon juice and garlic. Sheet pan dinners are a great option when you’re cooking for a family, too, making sure your whole family eats a well-rounded and nutritious meal.

Another similar alternative to sheet pan dinners is one-pot meals or dump dinners. These recipes are super simple and only dirty up one pot, such as a chicken tortilla dump dinner or a one-pot caprese pasta.

A hand opening the lid of a meal prep container on a kitchen table.
lithiumphoto / Adobe Stock

Try meal subscription services

Meal subscription services, such as HelloFresh or BlueApron, can take the hassle out of worrying about what to make every night and eliminate the need to aimlessly wander around the grocery store aisles. Real, fresh ingredients arrive at your door with instructions about how to cook and prepare tasty, healthy meals from them. Finding healthy dinner ideas is super simple, as meals are pre-determined based on a series of questions you answer about your taste preferences.

Using a meal subscription service can also help you easily adhere to a specific diet or dietary restriction, such as following a ketogenic or vegan diet. Plus, there’s great variety in many of these meal subscription services. If deciding on home-cooked meals is a challenge for you, this might be an option worth exploring.

Person placing bagged vegetables into the freezer
rosinka79 / Adobe Stock

Use frozen produce

It is a common misconception that frozen produce is not as healthy as fresh produce. As long as no sugar is added, frozen vegetables contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh veggies. By purchasing frozen produce, you can save time on vegetable prep, such as cutting and washing, and save time when preparing healthy meals.

A bird's-eye view of healthy foods on a table.
Nur Ezyan Hanis / Shutterstock

Prioritizing healthy eating habits

Changing your mindset can also be helpful in developing healthy eating habits. Even after an exhausting day of work, remember that the benefits of eating healthy are worth the time. Eating healthy is an investment in your long-term health and happiness. Taking the time to prepare healthy meals, even quick ones, can help improve your mood and energy levels, and help reduce the risk of chronic disease over the course of your lifetime. Once you find the methods that work for you, healthy eating will become easier.

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Emily Caldwell
Emily is a freelance lifestyle, food, fitness, and nutrition/health writer with a B.S. in Health & Human Services from…
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