The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe That Can Be on the Table Instantly

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This healthy chili recipe is a staple in my house, we have it at least every other week! Especially during the cold winter months.

One of my secrets to successfully managing life as a working mom is how I serve a home cooked meal every night.  Sometimes I don’t get home until 6:30, so it’s essential food is on the table quick! I have a whole arsenal of delicious recipes that can be prepared in less than 15 minutes on the night of serving.  To achieve this, often prep is required the night before, but I get that done after the kids are in bed. 

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe Your Kids Will LoveI’ve always loved chili since I was a little kid.  Even to this day, I request chili and hot dogs as my birthday dinner each year!  One of my favorite things about making it for my family is how easily I can sneak in healthy ingredients.  

For this healthy chili recipe, I prepare the chili almost entirely the night before.  The next day has very little prep, just adding the beans while it’s warming on the stove and firing up some toast or cooking additional veggies (depends on how ambitious I’m feeling).

And remember that chili freezes GREAT!  So always consider making a double batch and freezing half for another time when you don’t have time (or just don’t want) to prep dinner the night before.  

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe Your Kids Will Love

Ok let’s get started.  Assemble those ingredients! 

The basics: ground meat, spices, beans, veggies, and quinoa.  One aspect of I love about this chili is the fact that I’m not using one of those prepackaged chili spices.  Ugh, first those are full of sodium and who knows what. Second, they’re really expensive for what they are. But don’t worry, you don’t need a lot of spices to make up for that.  Simple oregano, chili powder, and salt & pepper will do.  

Ah ok I’m getting distracted.  Let’s start prepping!  

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Nighttime Prep Work

1 |  Cut up your veggies

Lots and lots of veggies!  Green pepper, carrots, garlic, onion and anything else you want to hide in there. 

You can either do this the easy way or the hard way. If you have tons of time on your hands and like to torture yourself, I recommend cutting up all your veggies by hand.  If you want to save lots of time and make things super easy, use a food processor.

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe Your Kids Will Love

I don’t pull out my food processor all the time because it’s kind of annoying to clean. However, since we have to cut up so many veggies it is VERY worth it. 

This model is similar to the food processor I have, and so far it’s lasted 7 years and is still going strong.  It came with all the different attachments I need and it’s the perfect size. Can you tell how much I love it?  

Use the attachment that dices things, I’m not exactly sure what this one is called but it looks like this. 

2 |  Cook meat and veggies

Get out a big ol’ pot and turn the stove on to medium.  Once it’s hot, dump in the meat and all the veggies. Consider cooking spray or a little bit of oil if you’re using a very lean meat (like turkey) or going meatless entirely.  

3 |  Finish off the chili

Once the meat is fully cooked and the veggies are starting to get a little soft, drain the contents of the pot to get rid of the excess fat.  Put everything back in the pot and add the chili powder, salt, oregano, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and quinoa. After it boils, cover and reduce heat to low for about 45 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked.  Let it cool and throw that whole big pot in the fridge.   

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe Your Kids Will Love

Day-of Prep Work

1 |  Heat chili

Take that big ol’ pot out of the fridge, remove the lid, and turn the stove to medium.  Add the beans and heat until warm (less than 15 minutes).   

2 |  Make any additions you might want

My kids sometimes like eating their chili with toast (they dip it in there), so sometimes while the chili is heating I’ll throw some bread in my toaster oven.  We also like avocado in our chili so if I have some that’s ripe I’ll cut that up too. If you want extra veggies, this would be your time to cook them as well.  

3 |  Serve

Serve with your favorite chili toppings!  Sour cream, green onions, cheeeeese….

That’s how you do it!  Here’s the full recipe:

Yield: 6-8 servings

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 20-25 baby carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 (28 oz) cans tomatoes (stewed, crushed, or whole-peeled)
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 (each 15 oz) cans of beans, I use kidney and black beans
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa

Instructions

1. Wash and chop up veggies into small pieces - either by hand or with a food processor.  

2. Combine ground beef, onion, green pepper, carrots, and garlic in large stockpot. Cook and stir over medium heat until beef is brown. Drain.

3. Stir in chili powder, salt, oregano, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and quinoa.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

4. Stir in beans. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes; stir occasionally.

Notes

To make this an "instant" meal, complete steps 1-3 either the night before or earlier in the day. When you're ready to serve dinner, complete step 4.

The Perfect Healthy Chili Recipe Your Kids Will Love

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About Author

Jo

Hi, I’m Jo!

I have two small children, Ry and Lily, only 19 months apart. It’s usually crazy around my house, but thankfully my wonderful husband is around a ton and helps keep the peace.

I also own my own business and work full-time. I’d love to list all these amazing hobbies I have, but honestly I can barely handle keeping the kids entertained, the house clean, and food on the table. Although on days I’m too tired to do housework, I love to pour a glass of wine and watch Supernatural or Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix.

My husband and I like to stay very busy and drag our kids everywhere with us. Weekends often include relaxing at wineries, festivals, exploring Washington D.C. and other short getaway trips.

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