Got 15 Minutes?
Then you can make one of these delicious meals.
Here's the thing about weeknight dinners. It's been a long day, maybe you're tired from work but you're definitely already hungry and the thought of cooking can be daunting. So you fight an inner struggle. Maybe you pull out your phone and order Seamless or duck into your local sandwich shop. Perhaps you convince your significant other to go out to a restaurant or meet a buddy at the bar and make a dinner out of peanuts and hot wings. Either way, you waste the food you have at home and reluctantly spend your hard-earned cash just to avoid cooking during the week. But you're better than that. And your dinner can be better too. There are easy ways to make your dinner prep easier and quicker than ever before. Implement these tips and you'll have dinner on the table with extra time and money to spare.
This tip is just pure science. A thick slab of meat can take ages to cook through fully. The same goes for trying to bake or roast a large, whole vegetable. Sliced or cubed meat cooks in a fraction of the time. Famed food writer, Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything Fast, relies on this move all the time. "Big, thick pieces of food take longer to cook through than those cut small or sliced thin," he says. "I cut chicken cutlets in half so they cook faster and chop veggies accordingly."
Another tip Bittman swears by: Before you get going on anything else, make sure to turn on your heat source. Set your oven temperature, crank up the broiler, preheat a skillet and/or set your water to boil. "Appliances, pots, pans, and water take time to get hot," he says. "Boiling water is always my first move."
Take a few extra minutes during your cleanup routine to prep for tomorrow's meal. This ensures there are no surprising setbacks once you're ready to cook. So while you're loading the dishwasher or wiping down the countertop, take that chicken out of the freezer, toss your meat into a marinade, chop up and bag your veggies or put all the cans or jars you'll be using together in the panty (ensuring that you have everything you need). Soon, it will be automatic and tomorrow's meal will come together even quicker.
Who says you need a lot of ingredients to cook a quality meal at home? Less ingredients means less time (and usually less effort). But that doesn't mean they have to be any less creative or tasty as meals that would have taken twice as long to whip up. Need some inspiration? Here are five recipes with five ingredients or less.
Cook once. But eat twice (or three times). Those fajitas you made last night? Turn them into a burrito bowl tonight by adding your leftovers to a bowl of quick-cooking grains and top it all with some black beans, salsa and a dollop of sour cream. Or make your stir-fry into taco truck-worthy tacos with some chopped lettuce and a little extra dressing. Pasta can be topped with cheese and baked for an indulgent next-day meal. And since it's new, it doesn't feel like you're settling for "leftovers."
A microwave can do more than heat up Chinese takeout or frozen meals. Nuke a potato for a few minutes to soften and then finish it off in the oven for a nice crisp skin and richer flavor. Steaming veggies in the micro is a lot quicker (and easier) than pan-frying or grilling them, and without the added oils or butter, it's also a lot healthier. In a pinch, you can pick up bags of frozen pre-cooked brown rice and cook them in minutes for a stir-fry.
If you're looking for quick-cooking proteins, remember that fish and seafood can be cooked in almost no time at all. Shrimp, scallops and thin pieces of fish require just two to three minutes on the stovetop or under a broiler. And some you can enjoy without cooking at all. Simply prepare your side vegetable or grain first and as that wraps up, you can prepare your protein—that's how quickly seafood usually takes to finish. Need some help deciding what seafood to cook? Bon Appétit has over two dozen fresh recipes to choose from.