Weeknight Meal Makeovers

Our nutritious new versions of favorite boxed, take-out, and fast foods come in tasty, quick, family-friendly packages.

Takeout containers

Becky Luigart-Stayner

What's for dinner?

Answering the “what’s for dinner” question is something most of us face every night. For those of us who want to watch what we're eating, there are some healthful choices in take-out, as well as boxed and prepared meals from the market.

Yet an even more appealing selection is cooking these favorites yourself. That lets you balance time-saving convenience with fabulous taste and unbeatable nutrition.

Here we offer realistic weeknight options that come together fast. Ingredient lists are short, and the menus are ready in an hour or less (indeed, several are done in about 35 minutes). And when you start with high-quality ingredients, great flavor follows.

Cooking at home, you control what goes into your dinner so you can monitor fat, sodium, and calories. Check the nutritional analyses and see how our home-cooked favorites compare.

Red Beans and Rice

Becky Luigart-Stayner

Red Beans and Rice

Menu (Time: 30 minutes):
Romaine salad with shredded carrots
 Cajun Red Beans and Rice
Garlic breadsticks

Boxed version (1 1/2 cups, prepared with 1.2 ounces chicken andouille sausage): 429 calories, 2.4 grams fat, 2,562 milligrams sodium

Our version (3/4 cup beans mixture plus 3/4 cup rice): 336 calories, 8.4 grams fat, 698 milligrams sodium

Double-Mushroom Pizza

Becky Luigart-Stayner


Menu (Time: 42 minutes):
Mixed greens salad with toasted pine nuts
 Double-Mushroom Pizza
Red grapes

Take-out version (2 slices thin crust): 408 calories, 16.2 grams fat, 1,142 milligrams sodium

Our version (2 slices): 365 calories, 12.3 grams fat, 523 milligrams sodium

Shrimp and Broccoli Fried Rice with Toasted Almonds

Becky Luigart-Stayner

Shrimp Fried Rice

Menu (Time: 33 minutes):
Green tea
 Shrimp and Broccoli Fried Rice with Toasted Almonds
Sliced mango and kiwi

Take-out version (about 2 cups): 577 calories, 20.5 grams fat (sodium information unavailable)

Our version (1 3/4 cups): 442 calories, 12.6 grams fat, 693 milligrams sodium

Buttermilk Oven-Fried Chicken with Coleslaw

Becky Luigart-Stayner

Fried Chicken

Menu (Time: 50 minutes):
 Buttermilk Oven-Fried Chicken with Coleslaw
Dinner rolls

Fast food version (1 chicken breast half plus 1 side order of coleslaw): 540 calories, 31 grams fat, 1,290 milligrams sodium

Our version (1 chicken breast half plus 3/4 cup coleslaw): 342 calories, 8.8 grams fat, 672 milligrams sodium

Smothered Steak Burgers and Shoestring Fries with Garlicky Dijon Mayo

Becky Luigart-Stayner

Burger and Fries

Menu (Time: 55 minutes):
 Smothered Steak Burgers
 Shoestring Fries with Garlicky Dijon Mayo
Beer or iced tea

Fast food version (1 burger, 1 small order fries, and 2 ketchup packets): 980 calories, 53 grams fat, 1,950 milligrams sodium

Our version (1 burger, 1 cup fries, and 1 tablespoon sauce): 578 calories, 19.9 grams fat, 980 milligrams sodium

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