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Get Through a Busy Week With These 30-Minute Meals

Published:
March 11, 2024
March 11, 2024
Are you having a busy week? Get through it with these easy 30-minute recipes.

It’s not you, it's dinner. The prepping, chopping, cooking, and cleaning on repeat — adding more work to your plate can be the culprit for a dinnertime dilemma. But how can we make the task of cooking dinner less chore-like and more manageable? Enter: the 30-minute meal. 

Cooking a meal in 30 minutes feels doable. It’s not the Sunday simmer sauce kind of cooking my Nana taught me, or the all-day German potato salad made from scratch kind of cooking. But for me, it’s the kind of cooking that is essential to making time for my family. Being a modern parent, student, or busy young professional means trying to make the most of the limited time we have, thus an abbreviated cooking session is basically the chef’s kiss to our dinnertime woes. 

We’ve rounded up a list of time-sensitive dinner options, from a basic pasta dish with lots of flavor to a make-ahead meal sure to deliver. These recipes will add ease, flavor, and extra time into your weekday. 

Olive Oil Pasta

I like to call this dish, pasta: the pantry edition. Quick preparation, few ingredients, and bold flavor make this the perfect weeknight dinner option. 

Ingredients: 

  • Long pasta (think angel hair, bucatini, etc)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup of breadcrumbs (with seasoning or without)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Depending on the pasta style, al dente could mean cooking for 8-12 minutes. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt to the pasta water for every pound of pasta being cooked. 
  2. As the pasta boils, in a pan on low heat, place 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle a few dashes of salt and pepper. Then, add in the whole cloves of garlic, allowing the garlic to flavor the olive oil. Making sure not to burn the garlic cloves, keep the heat low while the garlic becomes fragrant. 
  3. Once the pasta is cooked and the water is drained, place the pasta back into the pot. Mix the olive oil with garlic into the cooked pasta, add ¼ cup of breadcrumbs and stir to combine. You can add more breadcrumbs if desired.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add in red pepper flakes if you like a little kick.
Mozzarella Panini with soup

Comfort food with a fancy twist, this mozzarella panini is sure to please, especially when paired with your favorite tomato soup. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of Italian bread 
  • 16 ounces of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 jar of pesto
  • 2-3 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Fresh basil
  • Box of tomato soup

Instructions:

  1. Lightly spray or butter a panini maker (or a pan).
  2. Taking two slices of Italian bread, spread the pesto on one slice. 
  3. Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella thinly. Then, layer the tomatoes and slices of mozzarella on top of the pesto. Next, place the basil leaves on top of the mozzarella. 
  4. Put the other slice of bread on top of the ingredients, and spread butter on the top slice of bread. 
  5. Place the sandwich into the panini maker, and heat until the cheese has melted. 
  6. Serve with your favorite tomato soup. 
Italian Wedding Soup

Soup is a meal that goes a long way, especially when it comes to leftovers. This recipe from Beach House Kitchen may require a bit of morning (or night before) prep, but once the essential ingredients are assembled, this soup is an easy meal to put on rotation. 

Ingredients:

- Meatballs

  • ½ pound of ground chuck
  • ¼ cup of Italian panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning 

- Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of yellow onion chopped
  • 1 cup of carrots chopped
  • 1 cup of celery chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 7 cups of chicken stock
  • ¼ cup of fresh dill chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ½ cup of acini di pepe
  • 2 cups of spinach leaves, stems removed and sliced
  • ¼ cup of parmesan cheese

Instructions:

There are a few places in the instructions where early preparations will make for a smoother cooking experience. For instance, chopping up all the vegetables ahead of time or pre-baking the meatballs and refrigerating them for later use will certainly save on time when making this soup. 

  1. In a bowl, combine the meatball ingredients and mix together. 
  2. Form the small meatballs, and put on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  3. Then, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. 
  4. Add the chicken stock, dill, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop in the meatballs and continue to cook for about 4 minutes. Next, add in the broth, the spinach and parmesan, cooking for an extra 2 minutes. 
  6. Serve with warm, crusty bread (optional). 
Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

When it comes to making mealtime painless, the crockpot is a welcome friend. This Sweet Little Bluebird recipe combines chicken, hot sauce, and a ranch packet into the slow cooker resulting in one delicious buffalo chicken sandwich. Although using the crockpot requires advanced planning, this recipe has only a few ingredients and is quick to prep for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 ounce bottle of Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 1 ounce packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix
  • Rolls or sub rolls
  • Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, blue cheese crumbles, ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, lettuce, onion, etc. 

Instructions:

  1. Lightly spray a slow cooker or crockpot with a non-stick cooking spray, and place the chicken breasts in a single layer.
  2. Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix in an even layer across the chicken breasts, flipping the chicken and covering both sides.
  3. Then, pour buffalo wing sauce over the chicken.
  4. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. 
  5. When the chicken is cooked, shred it in the crockpot with the sauce. Then serve on rolls, with your choice of toppings.  

You don’t have to break up with weekday dinners — make them work for you! With these 30-minute recipes, you can truly bridge the gap between home cooked and takeout.

Creators:
Lauren Lawson
Published:
March 11, 2024
March 11, 2024
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