A blog by runners. For runners.

Making dinners easy for runners


For me, dinner isn’t too hard to get wrong. I’m an afternoon runner, so by the time dinner rolls around, I’m more than ready for it, too. What does present a challenge regarding this evening meal is the planning involved. Unless I plan ahead — or even do a lot of the prep ahead — I often find myself stuck in front of the pantry wondering what to make, my stomach growling angrily.

Last month, I experimented with cooking a month’s worth of dinners and freezing them. That way, I’d have several pre-made options I could simply thaw and re-heat. We enjoyed our meals and have only a few left to savor. The only problem? The cooking days were pure madness. I’m not sure it’s something I’d do again if given the chance. Still, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around simplifying dinner time.

Sports dietician Jackie Dikos advises that “any quick meal should have a good source of quality carbohydrates, a source of protein and a source of healthy fats” (source). The key is finding quick-cooking ingredients and readily available sources of these essential edibles.

Here are some ideas:

  • A grain, a bean, and a green — I love this easy, inexpensive formula I came across on No Meat Athlete. Consider using quinoa or millet with black beans or kidney along with a side of kale or collards.
  • Grilled Asparagus and Avocado Tacos — Super speedy to make and you can use this concept with any ingredients you have on hand.
  • One Pot Meals — Simplify cook-time by using just one pot for it all. This link has 5 blockbuster recipes for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
  • Breakfast for Dinner — One of our favorite things to do is fry up 2 quick-cooking eggs and serve with a side of greens and sweet potato hash browns or toast. No recipe required!
  • Pasta Primavera — Kick the classic up a notch by adding lots of veggies to the mix. Add some tofu, beans, or homemade meatballs for protein.
  • Veggie Lasagna — Same idea here, and this recipe is vegan and freeable for those of you who want to think ahead.
  • Crock pot meals — If you search hard enough, you might be able to find a crock pot recipe for almost any meal you desire. This link is specific to healthy dishes.

Overall, there are some easy steps you can take to make healthy dinners more automatic.

  • Plan out your meals for the entire week. Choose whatever day you go to the grocery store to write out a loose plan. Not only will this give you a guide and reason to have recipes at the ready, you’ll be armed with all the right ingredients and possibly save money by nixing additional trips to the store.
  • Prep what you can ahead of time. If you know you might have a late night at work, take a few minutes to chop ingredients in the morning or even the night before.
  • Enjoy leftovers or double up. Either cook more of a certain dish so you can enjoy it for two nights or simply cut the yield in half so you’ll have leftovers. No enough food? Most main courses can be beefed up by adding more greens or grains on the side.
  • Create a list of go-tos. Once you’ve experimented with various recipes and worked out the kinds, take note of the fastest, most satisfying meals so you can make them again in the future. I keep a notebook in my kitchen for this very purpose.

What are some of your weeknight dinner tips or recipes?