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Faster-Than-Takeout Dinners

Whip up a weeknight meal quicker than you can pick one up.

Faster-Than-Takeout Option 2: Pick-a-Pasta Night continued...

When the water boils, add the pasta noodles (like Barilla Plus Angel Hair) and set your timer for seven or eight minutes (or whatever the package directions say). While the pasta cooks, prepare your side dishes: micro-steam the veggies and wash and cut the fruit.

 

Drain the pasta, then put it back in the saucepan, and add whatever sauce you're using (straight from the jar) along with your meat or meat alternative. Stir, cover the saucepan, and heat your pasta mixture for a couple of minutes over LOW heat. Serve with veggies and fruit.

End Time: 6:50 p.m.
Total Time: 20 minutes
Total Cost for a family of 4: around $15 (depending on choice of sauce, pasta, meat, fruit, and vegetable).


Faster-Than-Takeout Option 3: Nacho Night
Here's the timeline; more specifics are in the recipe below.

 

Start Time: 6:15 p.m. Open a can of fat-free refried (or vegetarian) beans and heat it in a pan with a couple tablespoons of taco seasoning (available in packets at your grocery store).

6:18 p.m.: Start getting the rest of your toppings ready. You might try:
Shredded, reduced-fat cheese (Jack, cheddar, or a mixture of both)
Chopped green onions
Chopped tomatoes
Ortega canned chili peppers, chopped
Fat-free sour cream
Bottled or fresh salsa

6:22 p.m.: Arrange a serving of reduced-fat tortilla chips on a microwave-save plate. Top the chips with spoonfuls of the beans, a blanket of cheese, then whatever veggie-type toppings you're using. Microwave on HIGH for a minute. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, or similar, then repeat with remaining servings.

End Time: 6:28 p.m.
Total Time: 13 minutes
Cost for a family of 4: Around $13.

2 More Options

Here are a couple of more faster-than-takeout ideas to take you through the rest of the week:

  • Soup & Sandwich Night. Choose a high-quality canned soup (like Amy's brand or certain Wolfgang Puck varieties that aren't too high in fat) or any other brand that tastes homemade. Heat this in a saucepan while you put together a sandwich (hot or cold).
  • Stir-Fry Night. Use a great stir-fry recipe as your base, and add or delete ingredients based on what you have leftover or in the fridge. Try this Easy Mu-Shu recipe on for size, then check out two other Faster-Than-Takeout recipes below.

Easy Mu Shu

Journal as: 1 cup vegetables without added fat + 1 slice bread + 1 serving lean meat without added fat
OR 1 cup hearty stew OR 1 cup entrée salad with meat, poultry or seafood with light seasoning OR 1 frozen dinner light, pasta or rice dish with fish.

I literally pulled this dish together in 10 minutes!

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