The Little Known Secret to 30 Minute Meals

The Little Known Secret to 30 Minute Meals

I recently had the opportunity to interview the Editor-in-Chief of Epicurious. (Stay tuned for the interview!)

Have you heard of The Devil Wears Prada? Or wondered what the editor of a colossal Conde Nast publication is like?

Totally down-to-earth, patient, and far more normal that you would expect.

The Same 30 Minutes

“I come home like every other person and I have 30 minutes at most to get dinner on the table,” Tanya told fellow blogger Amy Sherman.

Tanya firmly believes that the number one reason people don’t cook at home is time. You come home from work in a state-dwelling on the research you are still waiting on or a project meeting first thing in the morning. You’ve rushed through a workout, quickly hit the grocery store and picked up toilet paper, and frankly, you are exhausted.

We all have the same thirty minutes or less to get food on the table. Why are some people able to pull off a healthy meal while others turn to packaged foods or take out?


It is a question of values, on one level. Take Lisa Leake. She and her husband decided that for 100 days, they would only eat a “whole food” diet. No preservatives, no packaged foods, no meat from industrial cattle farms.

If you give yourself no option but to cook and take your health seriously, you will do it. But at what expense?

Lisa spends hours in her kitchen whipping up dishes, reading food labels and doing Internet research…and she says that two-income families might not have time for all that cooking.
Charlotte Observer

A.k.a. if you work full time, you can’t eat like this. But Lisa herself admits that “I had to relearn how to shop and cook,” so maybe it goes back to the good ole’ Girl Scout motto.

Be Prepared

Line cooks are able to assemble a salad in 10 seconds flat. (Really, check out this book if you don’t believe me) But they have years of culinary training and a bevy of prep cooks chopping their vegetables.

These days, most Americans grow up without basic knife skills. These cooking essentials make a world of difference in the kitchen.

At Epicurious, they address this side of the problem. “Many baby-boomers don’t know how to cook–how to truss a chicken or baste a turkey or roll out a pie crust. At Epicurious we’re adding technique videos, so people can take their laptop into the kitchen and learn how to do it,” says Tanya.

Learning how to cook, from square one, is an admirable but time consuming venture. While these skills are necessary, they can be built slowly over time.

The Secret Shortcut

If you go whole hog, like Lisa Leake, cooking and planning your meals will take over your life. The academic route, with resources like Epicurious’ videos is a lesser commitment, but a commitment none the less.

So how do you pull off a 30 minute meal with ease?

Pick Your Battles

Dinners are no different than any other act of time management. You set priorities and let other things slide.

Do you care more about dinner or dessert? Food or drinks? Presentation or flavor? These are all trade-offs to make for a successful 30 minute meal.

A curry dish bursting with ginger, garlic, and a melange of earthy spices and sweet, caramelized onions is enough to impress your guests. Choose a complicated main dish and frame it with easy additions (bread, rice, simple dessert).

When you make dinner into a game, your guests will be too wrapped up in guessing each dish’s place in the puzzle to concentrate on your cooking, so you can plate up pre-made food or easy apps.

What trade-offs do you make to get dinner ready quickly?

  1. Sari Petch

    15 August

    I am so glad I don’t eat all that processed food anymore. Having my own garden has been very good for my family.