Dinners to make in 30 minutes or less are my absolute favorite, but I don’t like to sacrifice flavor for speed either. In my many years of preparing dinner night after night, I’ve put together a cache of quick recipes that are not boring and bland and that my family enjoys eating. Not only do I save money by avoiding the drive-thru, but I can provide healthy and tasty meals for my family. Join me in cooking dinners to make in 30 minutes or less, and you too can have a yummy dinner in no time! I am not being specific about the recipes because I tend to change them up each time, but what I'm sharing with you are the basics for some great meals. Do like I do and adjust the quantity for how many you're cooking for and whatever ingredients you fancy or have to hand.
1. Chicken Tortilla Soup
One of my favorite dinners to make in 30 minutes or less is chicken tortilla soup. I can throw this dinner together in short order and it tastes great too! Start by grilling a couple of chicken breasts (I usually do 3 or 4 breasts for my family of five). Once the chicken in cooked through, shred it and toss it in a large pot with a couple cans of chicken broth, diced tomatoes, chopped jalapenos, frozen corn kernels and a bit of chili powder. Simmer the mixture until it’s hot and garnish with avocado cubes, corn chips and cheese. I serve it up with cheese quesadillas on the side if I’m really hungry.
Stir-fry is a great meal that takes very little time to make. You can also make it pretty healthy by choosing the right ingredients. Start with thin slices of beef or pork. Shrimp also works well. Lightly sauté the meat for a couple of minutes, then toss in thinly sliced vegetables. Carrots, celery, bok choy, cabbage, snow peas, water chestnuts and mushrooms are great choices. Cook the stir-fry until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp, but slightly soft. Toss the mixture with a bit of soy sauce and a dab of crushed red pepper flakes. Serve it with steamed rice.
The trick to making pasta work in a short amount of time is to choose a thinner version that cooks in just minutes. Angel hair is my go-to choice, but spaghetti and linguine also cook pretty fast. While the pasta boils, throw together a quick tomato sauce by lightly sautéing green bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic in a saucepan. Add a can of diced tomatoes, a generous sprinkling of Italian seasoning and some Parmesan cheese. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and serve with crusty garlic bread.
4. Grilled Meat and Veggies
When it’s hot outside, I like to fire up the barbecue, meaning I keep the inside of my house cool. Luckily, grilling is great if you want to get dinner on the table quickly. Heat your grill to medium-high and season chicken, steak, pork chops, fish or shrimp along with sliced potatoes, skewered mushrooms and halved zucchini. Olive oil, salt and pepper create a simple and delicious combination, but you can mix and match your favorite herbs and seasonings. Grill each item until cooked through. I suggest wrapping fish in foil so it doesn’t fall through the grill rack.
My family loves build your own omelet night, and eggs cook quickly, so I can get several cranked out in less than 30 minutes. Whisk two eggs and pour in a non-stick skillet greased with butter. Gradually moved the edges inward, allowing the raw egg to slide underneath. When the bottom is firm, flip the omelet and let each person choose their ingredients. I usually put out cheese, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. Add the ingredients, fold the omelet over and slide it onto a plate to serve.
Salad is so healthy, and it’s easy to toss together quickly. I serve salad for dinner, then we eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Start with a bowl of greens, then go crazy with whatever vegetables, meats and cheeses you have on hand. Try carrots, peas, chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, ham, turkey, roast beef, cheddar, hard-boiled eggs or roasted red peppers. The best thing about a salad is you can clear out your fridge while making a great-tasting meal. Go easy on the croutons and dressing to keep fat and calorie intake under control.
Tacos always get me loud cheers when I cook them for dinner. They’re tasty and fast, making them absolutely ideal when time is tight. Start by browning ground beef, then stir in a can of refried beans. Warm a package of taco shells in the oven for a few minutes, then fill with the meat mixture. Top the tacos with hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, black olives, avocado and cheese. Leftover chicken or fish also tastes great in tacos, so don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredients.
Don’t you hate trying to put dinner together when you’re in a rush? I hope these ideas will get you cooking fast! Which one will you try first?