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21 Simple swaps for your favorite family meals

Easy ingredient swaps make your family’s favorite meals better without giving up what they love. Some swaps might go totally undetected while others might make a dish even better. All are approved by our nutrition experts so you know you’re on the right path to meeting your healthful eating goals. 

Taco night 

1. Tortillas: Use whole-grain corn tortillas in place of flour tortillas. 

2. Meat: Replace half the ground beef or other meat with sautéed veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper, and corn to up your veggie servings. 

3. Sour cream: Dollop over nonfat plain Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice instead of sour cream for a protein boost and less fat. 

4. Chips: Skip tortilla chips and dip crunchy veggies in salsa for less sodium. 

5. Rice: If you’re making burrito bowls, swap white rice for whole-grain precooked brown rice or low-carb frozen riced cauliflower.  

Turkey-Bean Tacos

Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl

Pasta night 

6. Pasta: Instead of regular white pasta, try a combo of squash noodles and whole-grain spaghetti or use spaghetti squash  

7. Salad: Toss your salad with an olive oil—based vinaigrette instead of a creamy dressing to save calories and add good-for-you unsaturated fats. 

8. Sauce: Use a red sauce like jarred marinara instead of a jarred white sauce like Alfredo to save calories and fat. You can also make your own sauce: Sauté garlic and dried herbs in olive oil, then add canned crushed tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened.   

9. Garlic bread: Skip the melted butter and brush the bread with olive oil that’s seasoned with garlic, herbs, and crushed red pepper. This is an easy way to add more heart-healthy unsaturated fat to your meal. 

10. Meatballs: Try turkey meatballs (homemade or frozen) instead of beef or pork for a leaner option.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Garlicky Greens

Baked Turkey Meatballs with Pesto

Breakfast for dinner 

11. Fruit juice: Instead of apple or orange juice, serve your meal with apple or orange wedges. You’ll lose the added sugar (what can lead to weight gain) and add back fiber (important for digestion). 

12. Yogurt: Use plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt for more protein and less sugar.  

13. Syrup: Instead of drowning pancakes in syrup, top with fresh berries for a hint of sweetness. This cuts out added sugar while adding another serving of fruit. 

14. Cereal: Swap sugary cereal for a whole-grain cereal with less than 6g added sugar per serving for a fiber boost. 

15. Breakfast sausage: Look for lean turkey- or chicken-based breakfast sausages for an option that’s lower in fat.  

16. Spreads: Add protein and some healthy fats to your toast by topping with smashed avocado, nut butter, or hummus instead of butter or jam. 

Whole-Wheat English Muffin with Avocado and Fried Egg

Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

Burger night 

17. Fries: Swap frozen regular fries for sweet potato fries for a boost of vitamins A and C. If making your own, try baking or air frying potatoes instead of deep frying.  

18. Burger: Combine lean ground beef or turkey and sautéed onions, mushrooms, or zucchini or try a bean-based veggie burger. Replacing some or all of the meat in one of your weekly meals increases your veggie servings while lowering fat. It’s also a great way to save money.  

19. Spread: Skip the mayo and try a lower calorie yogurt-based sauce, or skip the spread and top with a vinegar-dressed cabbage slaw.  

20. Bun: Use a whole-grain bun or whole-grain English muffin instead of a regular white bun. Or for more veggies, try crunchy romaine or iceberg lettuce or thick slices of roasted sweet potato.    

21. Cheese: Instead of highly processed American cheese, use any sliced part-skim cheese that melts well (we love provolone, Swiss, and Monterey jack).  

Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Guacamole Turkey Burger 

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