Turn 5 Main Ingredients into 25 Healthy Dinners


Athletes lead busy lives. Who has the time to cook dinner every night after spending time and money at the grocery store? One thing most of us have in abundance, however, is leftovers. I'm not a huge fan, but I'm not fond of cooking every night either.

Just as you make progress in your workouts by performing exercise variations, you can do the same with your meals. Here's how you can take one main ingredient (like chicken) and turn it into five healthy dinners. The key is to cook individual ingredients together and change up a sauce, herb or side dish to make a new meal. Then, even if you eat chicken two nights in a row, it won't be the exact same dish. (See also 5 Low-Calorie Pantry Staples to Have on Hand and How to Make Flavorful Meals Without Excess Fat, Sugar and Sodium.)


  • Grilled chicken Parmesan with mozzarella and tomato sauce
  • Chicken stirfry with brown rice, broccoli and sauce of choice
  • Chicken paninis with spinach, roasted tomato, and pesto
  • Breaded and baked chicken strips with buffalo sauce served over salad
  • Chicken kabobs with zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, marinade and BBQ on a stick

Ground Turkey

  • Turkey chili
  • Turkey burgers with carrot fries
  • English muffin pizzas with spinach, cheese, and ground turkey
  • Turkey meatballs with whole-wheat pasta, basil and olive oil
  • Italian turkey meatloaf


  • Sweet potato with spinach and egg scramble
  • Savory omelet with goat cheese, spinach and onions
  • Egg salad sandwiches made with light mayo and tarragon
  • Add hard boiled eggs to a Greek or Caesar salad
  • Quiche feta, salmon, and dill

Black Beans

  • Healthy baked nachos with black beans, avocado, and salsa
  • Black beans mixed with rice, veggies and tofu for a vegetarian stir fry
  • Homemade black bean burgers
  • Bean dip for veggies and pita chips
  • Black bean soup


  • Fish tacos with whole wheat tortillas, cabbage, and yogurt sauce
  • Grilled salmon with salsa and roasted vegetables
  • Salmon cakes
  • Teriyaki salmon with pineapple and snap peas
  • Salmon chowder with vegetables

Want more quick dinner ideas: see 10-Minute Dinners: 8 Healthy Recipes for Athletes.


Kait Fortunato Kait Fortunato - Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
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