There are times I don’t feel like cooking so I resort to quick dinner tricks. Because we need to eat and with family, you are responsible for others well being as well. I combine my fast food tips with tricks here to speed up cooking or allow me to engage in other activities while cooking. I tried prep cooking, but it’s not for me.
Working two jobs meant I often arrived home at 23 PM, to leave at 5-7 AM depending on my schedule. So I started looking around the internet and in my kitchen to figure out how to cut the cooking time to a maximum of 30 minutes or less.
Just a quick note – I rarely use recipes for cooking and do my cooking by feelings. If I find a new one – I will follow it the first time with quantities, but after that, I cook by feelings and tastes. Therefore you won’t find exact ml and gr from here just ratios.
Use sandwich grill for quick dinner
I discovered that the sandwich grill (I have with a grill plate, not the triangle cutting) is basically a frying pan -and it heats food on both sides, at the same time – no need to flip cuts frying time in half. And it’s great for cutlets, wieners, and even for thin meat cuts (max 3 cm for my grill).
On the side, I usually like to prep fast porridges quinoa, bulgur, or noodles which need only hot water and some time. You need to check the preparation instructions on the box since there are different types. Sometimes I want something lighter I use vegan cutlets/kebab and just slice some tomato-cucumber on the side.
Sometimes I make tortilla sandwiches (they probably have another name, but I don’t know it). For these, I place some cheese, sausage – what I have and like to eat at the moment – on a tortilla, wrap it, and put it on the grill. My grill fits two. They need about 5 minutes depending on the preferred crisp maybe a few more. They work both quick dinner or breakfast.
On that note – if you leave up the lid you can fry there anything that fits there. This might be useful when living in a place without a kitchen or traveling on a budget while staying in motels and not wanting to use public kitchens, dorm rooms, or at work. My mother’s workplace had a sandwich grill in the office kitchen and she made fried eggs and omelets there for lunch sometimes.
Microwave is a friend
Might not be the healthiest – but not eating or getting enough sleep isn’t also. So I use it besides warming up last day’s food also to cook a quick dinner. And it doesn’t need any attention so I can have a quick shower or put ready things for the next day while the microwave does its magic. And even if other activities take a bit more – nothing gonna happen with food. Unless you forget totally – then it will be cold. But already in the microwave – so just heat up for 1-3 minutes.
I have boiled potatoes 2-3 takes about 15 minutes on a high setting. One of my favorites is potatoes and herring with sour cream and onions. For that, I need boiled potatoes, salted herring which I slice into bite-size, slice onion, and cover the herring with it – on top of it a generous amount of sour cream and a bit of salt. In springtime, I sometimes add green onion also for better looks.
I had a period when I needed to eat rice (or more, I wanted for some reason) so I boiled rice in the office microwave. One part rice and 2 part water, for more flavor I stir broth powder to rice and then add water. About 10-15 minutes in the microwave and it’s ready. (For one person portion, about one cup of rice)
I do use a stove and frying pan also
The quickest thing to do on a frying pan is an omelet. Put the pan to heat, shake eggs, a little milk, grated cheese* and spices, add them to the hot pan – turn down the heat! It should be about 5-8 minutes max until it’s cooked all the way through. No need to flip, just serve and eat.
If other dinners I feel comfortable leaving to cook and do something else – I don’t leave an omelet. I fill this time to make some fresh salad on the side close by – whatever fresh salad I crave at the moment.
Pizza – on the frying pan
Did you know – you can make pizza on a frying pan? OK, tortilla pizza – but still, it’s even healthier and quicker than frozen pizza. Just prep everything – tomato paste, chopped ham, grated cheese, some cherry tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, etc. *
I heat a frying pan a little – not too hot – place tortilla on the pan, put on tomato paste and anything good you like, top it with grated cheese and put a lid on. If you do it for the first time, stay near to adjust the heat lower – if the tortilla seems to crisp faster than cheese melts. Luckily for me, I got a glass lid – a lifesaver several times.
By the way, pizza is a great way to skip out from cooking dinner for the whole family – just prep ingredients on the table, and kids love to combine their own pizza. This means you have to just put them in the oven and take them out. And as a bonus, you will create quality memories from the family activities.
*Whatever you like on the pizza, just make sure it’s ready to eat. For example, minced meat needs to be fried before adding to pizza – therefore I use ham, smoked chicken, or something like that when not in the mood of cooking.
New family member – air fryer
I have written a few times about how multicooker saves time and how to choose one. Multicooker really is a super invention for skipping cooking – just put everything in and wait. Loved it and I will buy a new one defiantly. At the moment mine has died after 6 years of loyal work. So for now – I settle with an air fryer for now. They are a bit similar though.
The most obvious food – is French fries. Pop it in, turn it in and wait for a beep. I have one with a 5,5l capacity so when I put in a full bag (1 kg). I shake them around 2-3 times so all of them could get nice crisp.
But you can cook there also meat, fish, chicken and much more. Although they don’t cook within 15 minutes (unless you use small pieces) it qualifies still as a quick dinner for me since I don’t need to watch over it. I just pop them in the fryer and can do other housework, watch the news or read blogs until the beep.
There is more
To add some extra flavors I love to whip up cold sauces on the side. One of my favorites is about 500ml sour cream, then I add one chopped onion and 1-2 garlic cloves, about 2 spoonfuls of mayo, half a spoon of mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.* Give it a good stir and ready!
*This is how I make it, I like a strong onion/garlic taste. Feel free to adjust for your taste!
These are just the first tips I go to when in the hurry and I will share more later. But before that, I would love to hear your tips and tricks so leave me a comment!