10 Healthy Meal Ideas for Busy Dads

More dads are now getting involved in dinner preparations, now that moms are also busy. If you’re a busy dad with a job, then you also have a job as a dad when you’re home from work, you probably don’t have time and energy to put on something healthy on the table.  After fulfilling the usual child’s plea “Daddy please help me with my homework” you can feel even less desire to cook.  If you’re tempted to make a trip to the fast food, remember that it’s your responsibility to keep yourself and your family healthy. The good news is that there are a number of healthy yet quick and easy recipes you can prepare. Here are some examples best suitable for a dad like you:

1. Honey Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon

The aluminum foil can be your go-to utensil – you can seal it up easily after you pile your ingredients, then after cooking and eating, you can simply throw it up for clean-up. No need for scrubbing pans and pots after. One tasty dish to cook for in an aluminum foil is salmon flavored with sweet honey, tangy garlic, and citrusy lemon.


  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ pineapple, halved and sliced
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
  • Chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan. Add garlic, honey, and lemon. Whisk until honey and butter are well-combined. After the mixture is ready, add one tablespoon of chopped parsley and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  • Prepare 4 sheets of 14-inch long aluminum foil. In the center of every sheet, layer pineapple slices and sprinkle with pepper. Place salmon fillets on top and drizzle with the mixture prepared earlier. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and more chopped parsley.
  • Pull sides of the foil inward, and roll the edges up. Leave a little room for heat to circulate. Put the foils with the salmon into a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once cooked, serve and enjoy. Pair it with brown or white rice if you like.

2. Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

For picky eaters, try serving them with homemade, low-sodium sloppy joes. It’s meaty and tasty, which most kids will love, and it’s also satisfying for the hungry tummy.


  • 1 lb. ground chicken / beef / turkey
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup yellow pepper
  • 1/3 cup red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup red onion
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper


  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground meat and mix in the onion, yellow pepper, and red pepper. Drain excess liquid.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, brown sugar until well combined with the meat.
  • Heat until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the mixture as filling to the hamburger buns. Enjoy.

3. High-Protein Mac & Cheese

Instead of using the usual creamy sauce for this recipe, a healthier, tomato-based sauce is used. Tuna and veggies are also added for extra nutrition.


  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 1 cup low sodium, tomato-based sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cans of tuna
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced yellow peppers
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • Boil a pot of water. Once it is boiling, add uncooked macaroni. Follow package directions as to how long it must be cooked.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • In a saucepan, heat olive oil and stir fry canned tuna with vegetables. Fry until vegetables are tender.
  • Drain pasta, then stir in the tomato sauce. Toss tuna and vegetables and mix to combine. Place mixture in a baking pan. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese on top.
  • Set the oven to broil and broil the cooked macaroni, tomato sauce and cheese mixture for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted or browned.
  • Let it cool for 5 minutes then serve.

4. Spiced Pork Tenderloin

Spiced Pork Tenderloin

Cook a restaurant-style dish at home using only a few ingredients and in just 20 minutes cooking time. Juicy and tender pork tenderloin is always favored among many, and this sweet and spicy dish will be well-received by your family.


  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine Worcestershire sauce, bourbon, sugar, and cinnamon in a large, zip-top plastic bag and shake to mix well. Add pork to bag, seal and shake. Let it stand for 10 minutes while turning it frequently.
  • Remove pork from bag and place it in a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Set the marinade aside. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly to the pork. Grill the pork for 10 minutes each side while basting with the marinade.
  • Remove pork from the grill. Let it stand for 3 minutes before slicing. Serve and enjoy.

5. Crockpot Chili

Crockpot Chili

Crockpot recipes are must-learn for busy dads. You simply add in your ingredients then you go to work and start of your day. As you go home, dinner is already waiting for you. One of the recipes you can try is making chili since it’s tasty and so easy to prepare.


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium bell pepper (green or red), diced
  • 1 can of 28 oz. diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 can of 14 oz. chili beans, undrained
  • 1 can of 14 oz. black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • Salt and pepper


  • In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat.
  • Drain beef and transfer to the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.
  • Taste before serving. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Grilled Shrimp Shish Kebabs

Grilled Shrimp Shish Kebabs

Bring the delightful flavor of shish kebabs to your homes using shrimp. For just a few ingredients and short cooking time, you’d have flavorful dinner in no time. Plus, you can get your kids to help you grill so you can spend time with them.


  • 10-12 large precooked shrimp
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 sliced potatoes
  • 1 red pepper, squared
  • 1 green pepper, squared
  • 1 yellow pepper, squared
  • 1 red onion, squared
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing


  • Get shish kebab sticks. Poke the shrimp, potatoes, and vegetables in an alternating manner into the stick.
  • Brush the shish kebab with Italian salad dressing.
  • Start grilling. Cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping half a time so they would cook evenly and won’t get burned.
  • Serve and enjoy.

7. Spaghetti Pesto with Meatballs

Spaghetti Pesto with Meatballs
Cook your own pasta for a hearty and delicious meal. Simply use frozen meatballs and frozen veggies from the grocery store, and you’re on for a tasty pasta dish. With a touch of your TLC, it’s so much better than fast food.


  • 1 1-lb. package frozen cooked meatballs
  • 1 16-oz. package of spaghetti pasta
  • 1 16-oz. package frozen bell pepper and onion stir-fry mix
  • 1 12-oz. container refrigerated pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Cook meatballs as directed in the package and set aside.
  • Boil a pot of water and cook the spaghetti pasta as directed on the package. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, cook the frozen bell pepper and onion stir-fry as directed on the package, or simply cook until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • After cooking the vegetables, stir in the cooked spaghetti, meatballs, pesto and the half and half over medium heat. Stir constantly for a few minutes until every ingredient is hot.
  • Serve and enjoy. Add some garlic toast to complete the meal, or simply drizzle with a creamy ranch dressing, if preferred.

8. Apple Cinnamon Glazed Chicken

Up for something grilled, yet sweet and spicy? Try this chicken breast recipe glazed with apple cinnamon sauce. Give yourself a flavorful and juicy treat for working so hard as a dad.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat your grill so the coals are medium.
  • In a small bowl, combine the apple sauce, honey, honey Dijon mustard, cinnamon, apple jelly, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Brush the apple mixture into the chicken breast pieces.
  • Grease the grill rack with oil. Place chicken on grill 4-6 inches away from the coals.
  • Cook the chicken for 15-30 minutes while occasionally turning and frequently brushing with the apple mixture. Keep grilling until internal temperature reaches 165°F or until chicken is no longer pink. Once grilling is finished, discard the remaining apple mixture.
  • Place chicken on a plate and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Then serve and indulge.

9. Smothered Pepper Steak

For a quick, weeknight beef meal, try making this classic American-Chinese dish. It’s saucy yet very nutritious – best served over hot rice.


  • 4 4-oz. ground sirloin patties
  • 1 16-oz. package frozen bell pepper stir-fry
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, basil, and olive oil; undrained
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • On a shallow dish, place flour. Dredge patties in flour, then sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a non-stick skillet over medium to high heat. Coat pan with a cooking spray. Once the skillet is hot, cook patties to pan for 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
  • Add bell pepper stir-fry, tomatoes and soy sauce. Wait for it to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until meat is done.

10. Crockpot Beef Roast

Crockpot Beef Roast

Using your slow cooker, make a lusciously satisfying dinner with beef. Pair it with potatoes and green peas, and you have a complete meal. If you get leftovers, you get to have a tasty sandwich for tomorrow.


  • 2 pounds boneless shoulder pot roast
  • 1 8-oz. package pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 1 8-oz. container refrigerated prechopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water


  • Place bell peppers and mushrooms on your slow cooker coated with cooking spray.
  • Mix ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, salt and water in a bowl. Stir until blended.
  • Heat a non-stick skillet over medium to high heat. Brown roast for three minutes on each side. Place roast over the vegetables in the slow cooker. Add the mixture over the roast.
  • Cover and cook on high for 1 hour, or low for 6-7 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Cooking can also be a fun hobby for busy dads as its something they can do at home and also include the kids as well.