10 Fast and Cheap Ways to Make a Healthy Pasta Dinner

updated Dec 1, 2023
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Skillet penne pasta on a plate with a fork
Credit: Lauren Volo

Can a pasta dinner be fast, cheap, and healthy all at the same time? Absolutely. The key is to make wholesome swaps that won’t break the bank, like using ground turkey instead of ground beef or pork, loading up the dish with leafy greens, or finally giving whole-wheat pasta a chance. These easy changes can make your weeknight pasta dinner healthier for the whole family, but no less tasty. Here are 10 recipes that prove it.

Healthy Pasta Dinner

1 / 10
Chicken Pasta Bake with Spinach & Parmesan

Pasta bakes tend to be decadent, luxurious affairs, but this one is light and wholesome. That’s thanks to it being made creamy with yogurt and low-fat milk instead of the usual heavy cream.

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2 / 10
Spaghetti with Turkey Bolognese

Ground turkey is a wholesome choice for this quick meat sauce, as it’s leaner than ground beef or pork. Here it’s given rich flavor, thanks to a splash of red wine and balsamic vinegar in the sauce.

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3 / 10
Pesto Pasta with Lemon, Spinach, Edamame & Toasted Almonds

Although edamame and roasted almonds might not be common additions to pasta, they give the dish a rich, affordable meatless protein boost while also providing crunch and color.

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4 / 10
Broccolini, Chicken Sausage, and Orzo Skillet
Turn chicken sausage, quick-cooking orzo, and broccolini into an easy one-skillet pasta dinner with this weeknight-friendly recipe.
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5 / 10
Chicken and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake

Whole-wheat pasta and a slew of leafy greens make this pasta casserole a healthy pick for a weeknight meal. It’s also made creamy with ricotta, instead of cream, which is lower in fat but just as flavorful.

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6 / 10
Turkey and Greens Skillet Pasta

This easy skillet dinner is packed with ground turkey, Swiss chard, and tomatoes, and just speckled with penne pasta, making it automatically feel like a wholesome win.

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7 / 10
Fusilli with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce and Nigella Seeds

Yogurt strikes again in this unique pasta dish, where it makes for a creamy, protein-rich sauce, along with nutty tahini.

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8 / 10
Lemony Brussels Sprouts & Breadcrumb Spaghetti

What makes this veggie-packed pasta so weeknight-friendly is that is relies on leftover roasted Brussels sprouts.

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9 / 10
Spaghetti with Corn & Parsley Pesto

Whole-wheat spaghetti isn’t just a fiber-rich choice for this pasta dish — it’s also a smart choice for the sauce, as the strong flavor of the parsley pesto actually pairs well with the nutty flavor of the pasta.

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10 / 10
10-Minute Garlicky Tomato Spaghetti

Yes, this pasta really does come together in 10 minutes. It’s nothing but a simple, wholesome mix of whole-wheat spaghetti, lots of chopped, fresh tomatoes, and plenty of fresh herbs and garlic.

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