It’s the beginning of the summer season, and many of us like to plan Friday night dinners with family and friends. It’s fun to go out to eat or enjoy meals away from home that we don’t usually eat during our daily routines. One thing to remember though, is that this could also mean that these meals are unhealthier than we are used to because we are not making them ourselves and can’t control the ingredients being used. Do you often find yourself asking,  “How can I enjoy these summer nights while staying healthy and fit?” Or do you try to avoid these social gatherings in order to avoid weight gain?

Well, as a dietitian, I would like to help you prepare healthy, creative dinners that you can share with your family and friends without feeling guilty or anxious about the calorie count. Your Friday night dinner ideas likely only need a little extra effort and some minor changes!

There are plenty of meals that you can enjoy for dinner, but first, you should focus on having a balanced diet every day.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is a diet that contains differing kinds of foods in adequate amounts, so the required needs of total calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and hydration are met. It is essential to have three meals per day with two healthy snacks because skipping a meal will lead to a lower metabolic rate and a higher feeling of hunger throughout your day.

More specifically, this diet should offer around 60-70% of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12% from proteins, and 20-25% from healthy fats. In order to know how many calories you should consume per day, consult your dietitian while providing him/her with data about your weight, height, physical activity, age, medical conditions, etc…

Exercise:

While maintaining a balanced diet, you should also focus on keeping yourself active. “What type of exercise is the best?” Every type of physical training is great, the key is choosing what makes you happy! Jumping rope, Zumba, jogging, running, boxing, having a walk in nature, playing tennis, and many others; these workout activities are beneficial and can be included in your day as a way of self-care and relaxation rather than a punishment.

“How many times shall I exercise per week?”, “I don’t have time to exercise, it’s impossible.” When you are first starting out your routine, set a realistic goal and increase your training time gradually. DON’T pressure yourself! If you try to rush yourself into a routine and workout every single day, especially when before you were never working out, you are going to get burnt out quickly and become unmotivated. It is important to start this routine, but do it slowly, so you can get used to the new routine and keep adding to it as you go on.

The health benefits of exercise are countless. Not only does it help you burn the excess calories you ate and protect you from numerous diseases, including diabetes and many types of cancer, but it also boosts your mood and makes you feel better.

Now that we have discussed the importance of a balanced diet and exercise, I will help you create your healthy and delicious Friday night dinner ideas!

Friday Night Dinner Ideas

1. Tomato and Basil Pizza:

A crusty pizza is always a good Friday dinner idea!

Ingredients:

  •          A 4-ounce piece of homemade or purchased pizza dough
  •         ½ cup of light grated mozzarella cheese
  •         1 tablespoon of flour
  •         8 fresh basil leaves
  •         1 teaspoon of olive oil
  •         4 black olives
  •         1 minced garlic clove
  •         2 San Marzanos, plum-type fresh tomatoes

Method:

  •         Position the oven rack in the center of the oven
  •         Preheat the oven to 180°C
  •         Sprinkle the flour over the baking sheet
  •         Roll out the pizza dough and transfer it to the baking sheet
  •         Spread the mozzarella proportionately but without reaching the border
  •         Slice the tomatoes and lightly coat them with the olive oil
  •         Distribute the tomatoes over the cheese
  •         Lay out the basil leaves on top and sprinkle the garlic all over
  •         Design with the 4 olives
  •         Bake the pizza until you can see the cheese melted and according to the crispiness you like
  •         Cut the pizza and Bon appetit!

2. Tuna Pasta Salad:

Here’s a healthy choice for your Friday dinner idea!

Ingredients:

  •         A can of flaked tuna in water
  •         2  pickled cucumbers
  •         1 medium green onion
  •         150g of pasta (choose the type you like)
  •         1 tablespoon of corn
  •         4 leaves of iceberg

Dressing:

  •         ½  teaspoon of salt
  •         ½  teaspoon of white pepper
  •         1 lemon
  •         1 tablespoon of mustard

 Method:

  •         Clean the iceberg leaves, cut them into pieces, and place them in a salad bowl
  •         Boil the pasta (stick to the boiling time mentioned on the pasta bag)
  •         When done, drain the pasta and put it in the mixing bowl
  •         Drain the canned tuna and put it over the previous ingredients
  •         Cut the green onion into small pieces
  •         Spread the pickles, onions, and corn over the mix
  •         Finally, prepare the dressing and drizzle it evenly
  •         Serve immediately and enjoy!

3. Healthy Burger:

Have a yummy grilled or stove-top burger for your Friday dinner idea!

Ingredients:

  •         1 homemade or purchased meat pattie
  •         1  medium fresh tomato
  •         2 small potatoes
  •         1 onion
  •         A burger bun
  •         1 teaspoon of canola oil
  •         ½ teaspoon of salt
  •         ½ teaspoon of pepper

Dressing:

  •         1 tablespoon of mustard
  •         1 tablespoon of ketchup

Method:

  •         Position 1 oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 180°C
  •         Place the burger meat in a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of canola oil
  •         Cook until browned on both sides and no longer pink on the inside
  •         When done, lay the burger bun cut into two in the frying pan for 20 seconds (it should become slightly toasted)
  •         Clean the potatoes and cut them into wedges then place them in the oven for around 15 min
  •         Slice the onion, tomato, and the cabbage leaves
  •         Spread the ketchup and mustard on bun bottoms
  •         Add the sliced tomato, onion, cabbage, and meat then set the bun tops in place
  •         Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and have them as a side
  •         Enjoy your meal!

4. Chicken Breast with a Side of Cooked Vegetables

This simple Friday dinner idea is super quick and easy to make. It’s also fresh and healthy! This would be a perfect meal prep option!

Ingredients:

  •         1 medium-sized boneless chicken breast
  •         ½ teaspoon of paprika
  •         ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  •         1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  •         ½ teaspoon of salt
  •          A pinch of black pepper
  •         1 tablespoon of canola oil
  •         1 can of ready-boiled vegetables (choose your favorite)

Method:

  •         Coat the chicken breast with the canola oil
  •         Season the chicken with paprika, salt, garlic powder, dried oregano and black pepper
  •         Place it in a frying pan and cook until you get a golden and crisp appearance
  •         Serve it with the ready-boiled vegetables of your choice and enjoy!

5. Greek Salad

This nutrients packed meal is a healthy and creative option for your Friday dinner idea!

Ingredients:

  •         30 grams of feta cheese cut into cubes
  •         5 black olives
  •         ½ green bell pepper
  •         3 cucumbers
  •         5 cherry tomatoes
  •         1 small onion
  •         A handful of fresh mint leaves
  •         3 walnuts, crushed

Dressing: 

  •         1 lemon
  •         ½  tablespoon of olive oil
  •         1 tablespoon of mustard
  •         ½ teaspoon of salt
  •         ½ teaspoon of black pepper

Method: 

  •         After cleaning the vegetables, cut the cherry tomatoes and the black olives into halves
  •         Thinly slice the cucumbers and the onion
  •         Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion in a salad bowl
  •         Add the chopped bell pepper and the feta cheese cubes
  •         Mix all the ingredients together and garnish your salad with the olives, the handful of fresh mint leaves, and the walnuts
  •         Drizzle your dressing along with the salad bowl and enjoy!

To Sum Up

We hope you enjoyed our Friday night dinner ideas. These recipes and Friday night dinner ideas will help you stay fit and full throughout this Summer! All you have to do is combine a well-balanced diet with a good workout routine. Make sure you check out our Summer workout challenge designed to tone your body and get you beach-ready!