Weeknight Recipes You Can Make in 30 Minutes

Save yourself some time and check out these 30-minute recipes perfect for busy weeknights.

Photo by Rachel Benavides

The number one reason people give for not cooking at home is that they don’t have enough time. On average, both men and women are spending about an hour in the kitchen, almost half of the 112 minutes women cooked in the ’60s. Most cite long work hours and juggling child or senior care as reasons for opting to eat out.

In fact, some food experts, like cookbook author and chef David Tamarkin, say that “Home cooking is dying.” He cites a 2014 study published in Nutrition Journal that showed a 16-30% decrease in home cooking from 1965 to 2007. An article published in The Washington Post reinforces this data, stating that less than 60% of meals consumed at home were actually prepared at home. Busy Americans have traded hours in the kitchen for pre-prepped meal boxes or semi-prepared foods.

And who can blame us? With all the demands and expectations put on the average adult, this form of self-care can seem like a tedious chore. And while cooking at home saves money and promotes health, it may not be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea.

Even the most hesitant home cook can take solace in this: There is a secret to simplify cooking at home. That secret is good ingredients. Fresh, high-quality ingredients don’t need frills and complicated recipes. Often, adequate seasoning with salt and pepper will do the trick.

This month’s recipes are simple and cook up within a half an hour. Customize these meals to suit your taste — replace the snapper with salmon, use tofu or chicken instead of cauliflower. Indeed, the most fun aspect of cooking at home is making every meal to your own taste.

Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Finding joy in the kitchen can be as simple as finding a superb, locally grown tomato or pastured, thick-cut pork chop.

Photo by Rachel Benavides

Recipe:

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

Serves 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Times: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup avocado oil

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tsp fine salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 white onion, cut into 1” pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

1 cup pineapple chunks, canned with juices reserved

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup tomato paste

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Heat avocado oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Whisk together cornstarch, salt and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Toss and coat cauliflower in cornstarch mixture. Test oil by adding a little cornstarch into the frying. It’s ready for the cauliflower once the cornstarch immediately starts to vigorously bubble when introduced to the hot oil. Fry cauliflower on each side for 3 minutes, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Discard all but approximately 1 tbsp frying oil remaining in the pan. Add in onion and bell peppers, sautéing for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce in a separate bowl by whisking together pineapple juice, brown sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. Add sauce, pineapple chunks and prepared cauliflower back into the pan. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Photo by Rachel Benavides

Recipe:

Snapper en Papillote

Serves 4

Prep Time: less than 5 minutes

Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 snapper fillets

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bulb fennel, sliced

1 bunch dill, divided

1 lemon, sliced

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp butter, cubed

1/4 cup dry white wine

Himalayan sea salt

Cracked pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper a little over two times the size of your fillet on a baking sheet. Place the fish in the center of the parchment, flesh side up, and season generously with salt and pepper. Lay asparagus, sliced fennel, 1/2 bunch of dill, garlic and lemon slices on top of the fish. Drizzle on 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp white wine, and top with 2 tbsp butter. Repeat steps for the second fillet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the fish is no longer opaque in the thickest region and registering 140 with a meat thermometer.