Dinner is the most difficult meal to prepare as we are already drained out of our energy, and we tend to order outside food or eat junk. But having a light and healthy dinner plays an important role in our sleep and which inturn decides our next day.
In this post, I will show you how to make a healthy dinner in less time and enjoy a home-cooked meal with your family!
Tips for making dinner at home easily
- Plan the dinner before. Planning means half done already. I said this many times and it’s so true.
Most of the time people waste time thinking (count me in!) what to make and end up ordering food from outside. If you can, plan for all meals on weekends or at least plan a day before.
My weekly plan will not be a very strict one with exact recipes but I fix the type of dinner per day.
For few days of the week when I know I will be busy with work, I do prep work for dinner in the morning itself or have lunch dishes with freshly cooked rice.
- Chose simple dishes for dinner. As the sun sets, our energy levels also go down. Select simple dishes that are easy to make and easy to digest.
We are not only what we eat but also what we digest. If you cannot digest and assimilate, it’s a waste of eating good foods. Digestion makes an important role in leading a healthy life.
- Reuse the breakfast and lunch leftovers. It is not always easy to cook the exact amount of food at each meal. There will be leftovers and I try to reuse them and prepare a new meal out of them.
Dinner meal plan
Though I do not plan my dinner a week ahead, I always have fixed dinner items based on the day. I am sharing this with you after following it for more than six months.
This schedule has helped me immensely and could able to decide what's for dinner in less time (yes, often this decision makes more time)
|Monday||Breakfast for dinner|
|Tuesday||Breakfast for dinner|
|Wednesday||leftover lunch items with freshly cooked rice or cooked millet|
|Thursday||Breakfast for dinner|
|Friday||One pot meals|
|Saturday||Roti with any dal or lentil curry or gravy curry|
|Sunday||leftover lunch items with freshly cooked rice or depending on my energy and mood|
Dinner ideas using leftovers :
- If you have Pongal or khichdi, add some whole wheat flour and make the paratha with it.
- If you have some carrot poriyal or beetroot poriyal, add some chickpea flour and make dosa with it.
- Use leftover dal or rasam to make the roti dough instead of water.
- If you have some leftover millet salad or millet stir fry or plain cooked millet, add it to idly or dosa batter and make uttapam or paniyaram using that.
- If you have leftover cooked beans, make simple beans pilaf.
- You can even make hummus with leftover beans or lentils and have it with any flatbread. For a light dinner, have it with raw veggies.
Indian vegetarian dinner ideas
All of us at our home have the same dinner. So all these dinner recipes are good for toddlers, kids, and adults. I just make sure to reduce the spice level.
I prefer to keep our dinner simple for these reasons -
- It is easy to prepare after long working hours
- Can make in less time so that we can have it early
- It will be light on the stomach and aids in better sleep
And I always make sure to have enough protein and veggies in my dinner.
Breakfast for dinner recipes:
We love to have breakfast dishes for dinner at our home. I love it as it is easy to make after a tiring day. Other than idly and dosa, these breakfast dishes make a good dinner.
This protein-rich instant dosa is perfect for dinner as it is full of veggies. Easy to make and you cannot overeat.
Prep work: You can make the batter ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two.
Instant rava uttapam with lots of veggies especially bell peppers. My family doesn’t like peppers and this is the only way to make them eat bell peppers. If you are bored of making upma every time with sooji, you should make this rava uttapam.
Prep work: Only chopping of veggies takes time for making this recipe. Like besan chilla, you can make the batter ahead of time. Also, you can refrigerate the excess batter for a day or two.
I usually use Leftover batter as a next-day evening snack for my kids. You can top this batter on one side of bread and cook it on both sides.
Are you Bored of semiya upma, then you should try this dosa. You can even use leftover vermicelli upma from breakfast to make this dosa recipe. That’s how I found this recipe.
Prep work: This is another instant dosa that doesn’t require any prep work. And the batter can be refrigerated a day. So you can make this batter in the morning also.
If you have leftover cooked millet, you can make this recipe in just 10 minutes. Even if you do not have cooked millet, it’s very easy to cook fluffy millet.
Check out my detailed post on how to cook the perfect millet every time and make this simple capsicum millet rice.
Prep work: Soak the millets before for better digestion. You can use leftover cooked millet to make this recipe. And cooked millet can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Have this with pan-fried paneer or tofu to make the dinner completely balanced.
Adding veggies to the paratha is one of the easiest ways to make anyone eat veggies. Instead of zucchini, you can use ridge gourd or bottle gourd or cabbage or carrots to make this vegetable paratha. Have this with a side of yogurt for a complete meal.
Prep work: Except for grating the zucchini, nothing much is needed for this recipe. As water will be oozed out from the veggies, we need to make the flatbread immediately after preparing the dough.
Prep work: Clean and store the spinach leaves. You can make the spinach puree ahead and freeze also.
This millet salad is an easy and quick vegan, gluten-free recipe that has the goodness of veggies along with cooked millet. For an added protein you can add any cooked beans or paneer or tofu.
Prep work: Leftover millet works best for this salad. If you do not have it, cook the millet and prep the veggies in the meantime.
Prep work: If you do not have leftover rice or millet, you need to cook it. But even then you can make this recipe in less than an hour.
An easy and quick South Indian breakfast recipe with puffed rice that you can make in just 20 minutes. I like to add a little more roasted Bengal gram powder (sattu) and peanuts to make this a protein-rich dish. Serve it will some simple vegetable salad and your dinner is ready in under 30 minutes.
Prep work: No prep work is needed, all you need is sattu and roasted peanuts. These days sattu powder is easily available in markets. If not you can powder some large quantities of roasted Bengal gram and store it in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
Whole wheat penne pasta with mixed veggies and mild Italian spices. This recipe is simple and does not use any pasta sauce. This recipe is vegan but you can add cheese or paneer for that extra protein. For vegan, tofu will be a good addition.
Prep work: Chopping seasonal veggies is the only prep work needed for this recipe.
Simple and flavorful lemon rice with millet. Just swap rice in your regular rice preparations with millet to make it more healthy.
You can add black or white chickpeas to this recipe to make it a complete dinner. You could make this recipe with cooked quinoa as well.
Prep work: Leftover millet works best. If you do not have it, you can easily cook millet in under 30 minutes.
Simple, healthy, and probiotic-rich recipe with millet and yogurt. Again, leftover rice or millet, or quinoa works best for this recipe.
If you know that you will be busy at night, cook rice or millet extra during lunchtime and make this curd rice. Have it with a simple salad or chutney.
Prep work: No prep work is required if you have leftover rice.
A traditional Andhra recipe with rosella leaves and millet. You can make this recipe with rice as well.
For added protein and taste, you can add boiled chickpeas while making this recipe.
Prep work: Leftover rice or millet works best for this recipe. Cleaning of roselle leaves and cooking rice or millet before is required to make this gongura rice.
Indian vegetarian recipes for dinner:
These recipes will be good to serve for lunch or dinner. If you know that your day will be busy, make these recipes for lunch and serve them for dinner also along with hot rice or millet or any flatbread.
A simple vegan everyday curry recipe with rajma or kidney beans and mixed veggies that are cooked with Indian spices.
You can have this curry as a side with any Indian flatbread or rice or as a soup.
Prep work: If using dried beans, it is better to soak them for 8 hours for better digestion. This also reduces the cooking time of beans.
Make this quick version of traditional Indian style dal tadka in an Instant Pot in just 30 minutes and dinner is sorted out!
Serve this dal tadka for your dinner along with rice or millet or any Indian flatbread. You can even have this recipe as a soup with a slice of bread as a side dish.
Prep work: No prep work and you can even cook rice along with this dal using pot in pot method.
This is my favorite recipe with healthy horse gram. It's always good to include different kinds of lentils and beans in our daily diet.
Make this horse gram soup for dinner and have it with hot rice or as a soup with a slice of toasted bread.
Prep work: We need to soak horse gram for 8 hours to make this recipe.
Easy and healthy spinach dal that can be a great side dish for rice or any Indian flatbread. You can have this as soup also for a light dinner!
Prep work: Wash, dry, and keep spinach leaves ready in the refrigerator on weekends to make this dal in less time.
A very famous dal served in most of the Indian restaurants and dhabas. This is a very simple recipe and I showed you how to cook rice also using the pot in pot method.
Prep work: Clean fenugreek leaves if using fresh leaves. You can make this recipe with dried leaves as well.
Thotakura pappu is a comforting, tasty, healthy Andhra-style dal with amaranth leaves. Make this recipe for your dinner and enjoy it with rice or roti.
Prep work: Clean amaranth leaves beforehand to make a quick dinner.
Gongura pappu, an Andhra special tangy and earthy dal recipe that goes well with rice or any flatbread.
Make this recipe along with rice or millets using the pot in pot method in just 30 minutes.
Prep work: Clean and keep sorrel leaves ready and you can make this dal and rice in an Instant pot in one go.
This is a simple yet delicious one-pot recipe that you can make with just 20 minutes of active time.
Prep work: To make it easy at night, soak rice or millet and dal in the morning or afternoon. You can even chop the veggies beforehand.
A simple dump-and-go recipe that is tasty as well as healthy. Khichdi is light on the stomach, and anyone can make it effortlessly (even men at home!).
Prep work: If using rice and dal, you need not soak it. If you want to make this recipe with millet and whole lentils like mung beans, cowpeas, etc., soak them in the morning.
This Pongal is another dump-and-go recipe that you can make with rice or millets or quinoa or even with daliya (wheat ravva). When you do not have any veggies or out of time, make this recipe that requires just 5 minutes of your active time.
You can use the same rice lentil mixture and even make sweet Pongal also. I usually pair this recipe with simple vegetable salad for a completely balanced dinner.
Prep work: If making this Pongal with millets, try to soak them for 4+ hours.
If you are bored of making regular Pongal, try this mint-flavored Pongal. It's good to have it with a side of few veggies.
Prep work: If making this Pongal with millets, try to soak them for 4+ hours. You can clean and store the mint leaves in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
This mung sprouts pulao is another healthy one-pot completely balanced meal that is ideal for dinner or even lunch on busy days. Pair this protein-rich pulao with a simple raita and your dinner is sorted out!
Prep work: Make sprouts on weekends and store them in the refrigerator for about 5 days easily.
If you do not have sprouts at hand and yet want to make a protein-rich dinner, make this brown lentil and rice pilaf.
Prep work: No prep work is needed as brown lentils or whole masoor dal need to be soaked for only 30 minutes. Start the recipe by soaking rice and dal. By the time you chop veggies and start the recipe, lentils and rice will be soaked.
Have some baby potatoes or potatoes? Make this quick pilaf and serve it with dal or curry. You can add paneer or tofu to make this a complete meal. I usually make this dinner recipe, if I have leftover dal or gravy curry from lunch.
Prep work: No prep work is needed. You can use homemade coconut milk or canned one or even skip it.
Rich, creamy, and super simple rice recipe with coconut milk and seasonal veggies. Coconut milk adds a slight sweetness to the pulao and that will be liked by kids a lot. Pair this with simple raita or a sprouts salad for a complete meal.
Prep work: You can make coconut milk at home and store it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days easily. So literally no prep work is needed if you have coconut milk handy.
Simple rice pilaf with seasonal vegetables is our dinner at least once a week. This recipe is mildly spiced and hence loved by kids also.
I usually add leftover beans or peas or tofu or paneer to make this dish a complete dinner.
Prep work: If using any beans or sprouts or peas, you need to soak them for at least 8 hours and cook them first. You can even use canned beans to make this recipe. Drain water from them completely before adding it to this pilaf.
Vegetable pulao recipe
Indian vegetarian dinner ideas
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 cup cooked beans or peas or panner or tofu (optional)
- 2.5 cups water
- 2.5 cups mixed vegetables (chopped into cubes)
- 1 medium onion (thnly sliced)
- 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste optional and you can use either one also
- 1 tbsp pulao masala
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp coriander seeds powder
- 2 tbsp oil
- Salt to taste
- Soak the basmati rice in water for 30 minutes or less. Chop the veggies and soak the rice. By the time we make tempering ready, rice will be soaked.
- Start Instant pot in saute mode. Once it is hot, add oil to it.
- Now add sliced onions, ginger, and garlic paste.
- Let onions fry until they are golden brown.
- Now add chopped veggies. I like to add veggies according to the season. You can use any veggies like potatoes, carrots, beets, beans, kohlrabi, turnip, peas, cauliflower stalk, broccoli stalk. If you use beets, the color of pilaf will be pink.
- Fry the veggies for a couple of minutes.
- Now add spice powders - pulao masala, coriander seeds powder, cumin powder, and salt. Mix it well.
- If you are using paneer or tofu or cooked beans or peas - add them now and give a good mix of everything.
- Now add water and taste the salt. Water should taste a little salty as veggies and rice will absorb it.
- Wash the rice gently 2 or 3 times to remove the starch completely. Drain the water from the rice completely and add it to the Instant Pot.
- Mix it well and close the Instant Pot with the lid.
- Cancel saute mode. Seal the vent and select the manual or pressure cooker option. Pressure cook it for 5 minutes on HIGH pressure.
- Once the Instant pot beeps, turn it off and quickly release the pressure after 5 minutes.
- Take the inner pot out and let it rest for 10 minutes. Mix it well after 10 minutes and the vegetable pilaf is ready to serve!
- 1:1.25 rice to water will give us properly cooked rice. Make sure to drain water from beans and rice completely, else we might end up with mushy rice.
- You can add a half-cup of chopped tomatoes or ½ tsp of raw mango powder or ½ tsp of grated gooseberry or amla while sauteeing the veggies. This will add slight tanginess to pilaf and makes it tastier.
- Instead of water, you can use thin coconut milk to cook the rice.
- You can add half tsp of red chili powder or 2 green chilies to make this recipe spicy.
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As you are here, you might be interested in my popular lunch ideas.