25+ Last Minute Dinner Ideas - Real Food Whole Life

25+ Last Minute Dinner Ideas

January 14, 2022

black skillet pan with italian chicken on light blue background with napkin

If you’re looking for easy, healthy last minute dinner ideas you’re in the right place!

Read on for last minute ideas that are family friendly, and include vegetarian, chicken and ground beef options perfect for busy weeknights.

close up of a last minute dinner ideas recipe in a cast iron skillet on blue background

about these last minute dinner ideas

Around here we are all about embracing more ease in the kitchen!

From dump & go slow cooker recipes to quick 30-minute meals, we love sharing recipes that help you take the stress and guesswork out of weekly meal prep.

While I love a good crockpot recipe, some weeks a quick stovetop, sheet pan or grilled recipe is just the thing to get a hot meal on the table fast.

I know a lot of you might be looking for some last minute dinner recipes to lean on too – so I’ve gathered all my favorites for you in one easy to find place.

Including tacos, bowls, stir fries, one-pan and skillet dinners that you can throw together any night.

Since they’re simple to prepare, they make the perfect low-effort dinners on busy weeks (or just anytime you don’t really feel like cooking)!

PS – All of these recipes feature simple good-for-you ingredients, minimal clean up and easy prep steps with flavor profiles designed to be loved by the whole family.

table of contents

While we’re big fans of healthy chicken dinners (you’ll find plenty below), you’ll also find plenty of recipes in this round up that are not chicken!

Click on each category below to go straight to that section: 



ground beef

ground turkey



what makes these recipes healthy

The truth is, there isn’t a universally agreed upon definition of what makes a recipe healthy.

As an expert on healthy habits, I should know — I’ve interviewed over 200 health and wellness experts on the question of what it really means to be healthy, and have yet to uncover a definition of healthy eating that all experts agree on.

However, I did write the book on what it really means to be healthy, and when it comes to recipes I take a whole, real foods, research-based approach.

With that in mind, all of these recipes are made with whole food ingredients, without any added refined sugar, and do not include processed ingredients or oils.

They are also plant-forward, include whole grains, as well as plenty of colorful, health-filled veggies.

Finally, as a healthy habits expert, I know that a big part of eating healthy is making the process easy.

That’s why all these recipes are not only filled with good-for-you ingredients, but also incredibly simple to prepare.

As always, if you’re following a specific diet for health reasons, consult with your doctor or registered dietitian for specific health advice and check out our nutrition disclaimer for more information.

how to freeze & store leftovers

All of these recipes will keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container.

Many of these recipes also freeze well, store in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.

more easy healthy dinner recipe collections

30+ Dump and Go Slow Cooker Recipes

50+ Healthy Crockpot Recipes

Vegan Slow Cooker Recipes

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes

Whole30 Slow Cooker Recipes

Paleo Crockpot Recipes

Anti-Inflammatory Crockpot Recipes

Gluten Free Crockpot Recipes

these recipes are all…


I’ve also included some kid-friendly, whole30, paleo, and vegan options too – so there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

I hope you’ll make these easy Last Minute Dinner Recipes soon.

If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

last minute chicken dinner ideas

This Easy Italian Chicken Zucchini Skillet combines chicken, zucchini, tomatoes and classic Italian flavors for an easy, one-pot dinner you can make any night of the week. I love that it's naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, whole30 friendly and ready in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients: chicken breasts (or chicken thighs), zucchini, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, butter (optional: traditional or dairy-free), fresh basil, red pepper flakes, garlic, Italian seasoning, olive oil and salt.

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Crispy chicken, tender green beans, and a gingery sauce make One-Pan Ginger Honey Cashew Chicken and Green Beans a simple, tasty weeknight recipe you’ll want to make again and again.

Ingredients: chicken breasts (or thighs), green beans, ginger, chicken broth, honey, green onions, cashews, coconut oil, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) and salt.

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One-Pan Orange Chicken Asparagus Stir-Fry requires only 10 ingredients, one pan, and just a few minutes. Full of golden-brown chicken, crisp asparagus, and a tangy naturally sweet sauce, it’s perfect any night of the week!

Ingredients: chicken breasts (or thighs), asparagus, garlic, orange zest, orange juice, chicken stock, white wine vinegar (or lemon juice), cocount oil, arrowroot powder and salt.

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20-Minute Stovetop Chicken Pot Pie (Dairy-Free) is a super-fast weeknight dinner that’s as easy as it is delicious. A naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, whole30 recipe.

Ingredients: chicken breasts (or thighs), frozen vegetable blend, celery, onion, chicken stock, canned coconut milk, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, olive oil, arrowroot powder and salt.

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This 15-Minute Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry is a weeknight classic full of clean, simple ingredients. Naturally gluten-free and super easy, you’ll want to make this recipe again and again.

Ingredients: chicken breasts (or thighs), broccoli, coconut aminos (or tamari), scallions, cashews, coconut oil (or olive oil), garlic, ginger, and salt.

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Sheet Pan Chicken, Kale & Sweet Potatoes is a super-simple and healthy 5-ingredient sheet pan recipe perfect for any night of the week!

Ingredients: chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, lacinato dinosaur kale, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.

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Sheet Pan Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Veggies is a meal in just one pan. Juicy chicken, tender veggies, and a tangy-sweet glaze make this recipe easy, quick, and so delicious!

Ingredients: chicken breasts, asparagus, carrots, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, olive oil, and salt.

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Bursting with vibrant flavors and nourishing ingredients, Peach Chicken Basil Glow Bowls will have your feeling amazing from the inside out. A gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, whole30 recipe.

Ingredients: chicken breasts (or thighs), zucchini, onion, cooked quinoa (or cauliflower rice), peaches, garlic, white balsamic (or white wine vinegar), olive oil, fresh basil and salt.

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last minute dinner ideas with fish

Easy, quick, incredibly delicious, and made in just one pan, Sheet Pan Ginger-Orange Salmon Bowls are just the thing for dinner tonight! Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, grain-free, paleo, and Whole30 friendly

Ingredients: salmon, green beans, coconut aminos, orange juice, garlic, ginger, olive oil and salt.

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Easy, fast, and made in just one pan, Sheet Pan Fajita Fish Tacos makes the perfect weeknight dinner!

Ingredients: white fish (like cod), bell peppers, onion, cumin, garlic powder, mild chili powder, olive oil, lime juice, and salt.

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A fun twist on taco night, 20-Minute Salmon Fish Tacos with Quick Cabbage Slaw comes together in minutes. Full of fresh flavors and easy to make, they are the perfect way to add more fish into your diet!

Ingredients: salmon, cabbage, cucumber, avocado, tortillas (or grain-free wraps or lettuce wraps), mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt), lemon juice, and salt. 

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Easy Fish Tacos with Honey-Lime Cabbage Slaw are simple to make at home and so flavorful. The warm slaw makes a great topping for the tacos and serves double duty as a veggie side as well.

Ingredients: white fish (like rockfish, cod or tilapia), purple cabbage, lime juice, avocado, green onions, mayonnaise (or plain yogurt), honey, olive oil, cumin, mild chili powder, garlic powder, ground black pepper and salt.

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meatless last minute dinner ideas

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Apples & Mushrooms is simple to prepare and is perfect for a hearty, grain-free breakfast, side or dinner.

Ingredients: sweet potatoes, apples, mushrooms, onions, melted coconut oil (or avocado oil), celery, pecans, cranberries, sage and salt.

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Asian Quinoa Bowls with 5-Ingredient Peanut Sauce are packed with vibrant veggies and topped with the easiest peanut sauce ever. A new weeknight classic that just got simpler.

Ingredients: quinoa, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, frozen edamame, garlic, maple syrup, tamari (or soy sauce), rice vinegar (or fresh lime juice), peanut butter and salt.

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Slurpable noodles and heaps of tender veggies combine with an ultra-simple sauce in Veggie Noodle Bowls with 5-Ingredient Peanut Sauce. No complicated ingredient list here, these bowls are easy to make and taste amazing.

Ingredients: pasta (gluten-free or whole wheat), broccoli, cabbage, carrot, green onions, peanuts, peanut butter, garlic, maple syrup, tamari, rice wine vinegar (or lime juice) and water.

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With just a few minutes, some simple pantry ingredients, and a handful of fresh veggies you can whip up these flavor-packed 20-Minute Black Bean Bowls with Confetti Slaw. They are easy, quick, and super delicious!

Ingredients: canned black beans, onion, baby spinach, purple cabbage, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, cumin, garlic powder, mild chili powder, olive oil, lime juice, and salt.

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This Black Bean Quinoa Bowl recipe combines bell peppers, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, corn, pumpkin seeds and cilantro with an easy, healthy cumin lime dressing. Perfect for a light dinner or make ahead lunch!

Ingredients: quinoa, water or stock, canned black beans, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, mild chili powder, maple syrup (or honey), olive oil and salt.

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quick & easy turkey recipes

One pan and a few minutes are all you need to whip up this easy, tasty 20-Minute Turkey and Green Bean Stir-Fry.

Ingredients: ground turkey (light or dark meat), green beans, garlic, ginger, honey, chicken stock, lime juice (or rice wine vinegar), tamari, arrowroot powder, olive oil, and salt.

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So fresh and simple to prepare, 20-Minute Turkey Tacos with Peach Basil Salsa is a flavor-packed, easy weeknight dinner everyone will love.

Ingredients: ground turkey (dark or light meat), onion, garlic powder, cumin, corn tortillas, avocado, peaches, lime juice, basil, olive oil, jalapenos (optional) and salt.

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20-Minute Turkey Tacos with Apple Salsa is the perfect, fresh recipe to ease your way from summer into fall. Topped with sweet, crisp Apple Salsa, they are simple to prepare on busy weeknights.

Ingredients: ground turkey, onion, garlic, apples, cilantro, green onion, lime juice and other seasonings

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All the flavor of an egg-roll, but without the fuss. Tossed together with a tangle of veggie noodles, Egg Roll Veggie Noodle Bowls are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, Paleo, Whole30 and so delicious!

Ingredients: ground turkey (or ground chicken or pork), crimini mushrooms, cabbage (or slaw mix), carrots, coconut aminos, vegetable noodles (spiralized carrots or zucchini), lime juice, green onion, ginger, olive oil, and salt.

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simple healthy dinners with sausage

Incredibly simple and delicious, One-Pan Sweet & Sour Cabbage with Sausage is a one-dish dinner you can make any night of the week.

Ingredients: cooked apple chicken sausages, onion, apples, purple cabbage, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt.

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Simple to prepare in just one-pan, Roasted Sweet Potato, Apple and Chicken Sausage Bowls make for a hearty, warming weeknight dinner. A dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo and Whole30 recipe the whole family can enjoy!

Ingredients: cooked chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, apples, baby spinach (or arugula), garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt.

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This Roasted Italian Sausage and Vegetables recipe is an easy sheet pan meal that combines sausage, squash, potatoes, onion, kale and Greek spices for a satisfying dinner!

Ingredients: Italian sausage, red onions, acorn squash, kale, baby potatoes, lemon juice, dried oregano and other spices

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easy ground beef dinner recipes

This easy Southwest Beef & Sweet Potato Skillet is a super simple and flavorful weeknight meal that everyone will love.

Ingredients: ground beef, sweet potato, canned diced tomatoes, mild chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, water, baby spinach, lime juice, olive oil, and salt.

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Savory pineapple beef combines with roasted sweet potatoes and fresh spinach, along with a quick mango avocado salsa, in this delicious weeknight bowl.

Ingredients: lean ground beef, sweet potatoes, canned crushed pineapple, mango, avocado, baby spinach, cumin, garlic powder, mild chili powder, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and salt.

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close up of chicken skillet with fresh herbs on top
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25+ Last Minute Dinner Ideas: Italian Chicken Zucchini Skillet

Yield 4
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 19 mins
Total Time 29 mins

This Easy Italian Chicken Zucchini Skillet combines chicken, zucchini, tomatoes and classic Italian flavors for an easy, one-pot dinner you can make any night of the week. Plus 25+ more last minute dinner ideas I know you'll love too!


  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp no-salt added Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp kosher salt divided
  • 4 cups 1-inch diced zucchini (from about 4 medium zucchini)
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced or grated
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter*
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes to taste


  • In a large 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken in one layer, taking care not to overlap the pieces. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Cook the chicken undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip, and cook an additional 3 minutes until browned on both sides and just cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add chicken stock, stirring to deglaze, then add tomato paste and diced tomatoes, stirring until well combined.
  • Add the cooked chicken back to the pan, turn the heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced.
  • Turn off the heat, add the butter, and stir to combine. Taste the sauce and add additional salt if desired. Serve sprinkled with basil and red pepper flakes to taste.


*Use dairy-free butter to keep this recipe dairy-free, or omit for Whole30.
This recipe works with either chicken breasts or thighs – if you prefer juicer chicken, use chicken thighs.


Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 995mg | Potassium: 1027mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 727IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutrition disclaimer
did you make this recipe?Mention @realfoodwholelife or tag #realfoodwholelife!

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