We are in the middle of a series of 7 Habits of Eating at Home.
If you missed the first three weeks then you’ll definitely want to check those out too. Week 1 was on meal planning around your calendar. Week 2 was focused on quick and simple grocery shopping tips. And last week we talked about stocking your freezer to bring less chaos and more enjoyment to dinner time.
This week our topic is all about how to make a healthy and tasty dinner in just 15 minutes. At my house, this qualifies the chef for Superhero status and all of us can use a day like that every once in awhile! I’ll be on Facebook Live talking more about strategies for quick food prep and cooking and I’ll be making a 15-minute meal live so you can see how easy this is!
Habit #4 – 15 Minute Meals
Keeping several good recipes in your repertoire that can be made in just 15 minutes is one of the smartest things you can do. Find a couple that your family loves and keep those ingredients handy so that you have something to fall back on. Even on the busiest, craziest nights, we can carve out 15 minutes to pull dinner together if we have a standby recipe or two to turn to and a pantry with basic meal builders ready for us!
If you are already a member, you know that Eat at Home Meal Plan members get a 15-minute meal each week in both the Traditional and Whole Foods plans to give healthy, quick options for that one night you don’t have any time to prepare in advance. There are really so many delicious, quick and easy meals to choose from that only take 15 minutes and I love having that choice on the menu every week!
Tools for the quickest cooking
In addition to those delicious 15-minute recipes, it’s a good idea to keep some tools on hand to make your prep and cooking time as easy and fast as possible. Stock your kitchen with these hard working tools to make cooking fast.
- Sharp knife –This is essential. So many meals require some chopping or cutting. You do not want to be fighting the food while trying to chop with a dull knife. Invest in a good, sharp knife and a knife sharpener. You will not regret this purchase.
- Garlic press – Fresh garlic makes a dish taste wonderful. Invest in a quality garlic press to make this step fast. Look for one that doesn’t require the cloves to be peeled. You also want an easy way to clean out the little holes. Pampered Chef makes a nice press, but there are other good brands too.
- Electric griddle – The ability to make many pancakes, sandwiches, or quesadillas at once makes this worth the space to store it. Fixing these foods one at a time in a skillet voids the meal of its quick quality. Unless you are only cooking for two people, invest in a large griddle.
- Large baking stone or cookie sheet – Useful for nachos, French bread pizzas, broiling sandwiches etc. I prefer baking stones because clean up is a quick scrape under hot water.
- Gas grill – Grilling can be quick, depending on the food you’re fixing. It’s an easy way to cook up lots of chicken for the freezer. Grilling also cuts down on cleanup.
- Microwave – I use the microwave for quickly thawing cooked meats. One or two minutes is all it takes to have cooked chicken or ground beef ready to add to a recipe.
Naturally quick-cooking foods & Meal Builders for your Pantry
It’s a great idea to keep your pantry stocked with key ingredients so you never have to worry about not having anything to build a meal on. This post talks about classic meal builders I always keep on hand in my pantry and it really helps!
There are also a few foods that are fast by nature.
These are excellent building blocks for quick meals at home, so it’s a good idea to keep some in your pantry for those days when your plan has to change unexpectedly and you don’t have time to run out for ingredients. Combine any of them with vegetables and maybe some meat and you’ve got a speedy meal. Bonus – most of them are inexpensive too.
- Beans – Canned beans are high in protein and quick to fix! Alternately, you can cook them in the slow cooker or instant pot in advance and freeze them for easy use later.
- Pasta – Angel hair pasta is especially quick, cooking in just 3-4 minutes. Ravioli and tortellini are also speedy and are more filling than plain pasta.
- Couscous – 5 minutes and done. Hard to beat that!
- Rice – My favorite is Jasmine, which cooks in about 15 minutes. Brown rice is healthier but takes longer to cook. An alternative is instant brown rice.
- Eggs – High protein, inexpensive, and versatile.
- Tortillas – Nearly anything can be wrapped in a tortilla and made better for the wrapping.
Pre-cooked and frozen meats
So here’s my biggest time-saving tip. Are you ready? My biggest ally in quick cooking is to have a variety of pre-cooked meats and even beans ready to go and stashed in the freezer. Doing this opens the door for a huge variety of meals that can be made in minutes instead of hours because the hardest part–cooking the proteins– is already done in advance!
You can precook meat in the instant pot (See this post for more info on cooking several kinds of meat for the freezer in the instant pot) or in the crockpot. I like to portion mine out before freezing so that I can easily grab a bag and it’s about the right size for a recipe for my family size without trying to break it apart or thawing too much at once.
15 Minute recipes to try
Ready to get in the kitchen and make a few 15-minute meals? Here are just a few of some of my family’s go-to recipes for when we need dinner on the table FAST!
There are 14 easy meals in this post that my family loves. You can get more ideas by browsing the 15-minute meal section of the blog, too!
Try Eat At Home Tonight
Want a simple, printable recipe for a 15-minute meal delivered to your inbox every week? Check out Eat at Home Tonight! It’s FREE to sign up and is a great way to get inspiration for the dinner table. Here’s just one of the delicious recipes that you’ll get to try if you sign up.