I always say anything that takes 30 minutes or less to make is a quick weeknight dinner, but is it really? When the kids are hungry, 30 minutes seems like a lifetime. So for weeknights, I’ve got a new slogan: “15 is the new 30.” (Trust me, if I was talking about age I would be telling you that 40 is the new 30, but when it comes to cooking time, wouldn’t this be great?)
I started sifting through my collection of recipes and found dozens that I can pull off in 15 minutes. So if you’re serious about making dinner seriously fast, here are my best tips and tricks:
1. Menu Plan. Having all of the ingredients in your home is the first step in making this work, so take 30 minutes over the weekend to plan out your week and make that shopping list. This is the key to pulling off quick weeknight meals.
2. Keep your ingredients organized. Being able to find things when you’re short on time is a great way to save a few minutes when you’re cooking.
3. Prep in advance. In a perfect world, when I get home from the grocery store I chop my veggies, wash my lettuce, and prep anything I can to save me time during the week. It sounds like a luxury, but spending a few extra minutes up front can save you valuable time when it really counts.
4. Pick realistic recipes for weeknights. Thin cuts of meat, veggies, and starches all cook very quickly. I love pounding out chicken breasts so they cook in 2-4 minutes in a pan. Skirt steak and thin cuts of fish can be cooked in 5-8 minutes. I also look for pasta dishes where the sauce can come together in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. Quesadillas, Panini sandwiches, and burritos are all great weeknight meals, too.
5. Stick to one dish meals. For my quickest dinners I choose recipes that have protein, carbohydrates, and veggies all in one. Pasta with Broccoli, Chicken Tostadas, and Turkey Burgers with Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Pickles all work. Or if I’m cooking a piece of fish or chicken, I’ll wipe out the pan and use it to sauté up some green beans or carrots.
For a weeknight one dish meal recipe, see Honey Mustard Salmon.
Amanda Haas is a cookbook author and founder of the website One Family One Meal, a free meal planning and recipe resurce for parents who want to cook healthy meals their entire family will love. Her most recent book project is Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Roasting, Revised Edition.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.