Go-To Dinners: Meals in Under 30 Minutes

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Twitter is a terrific way to observe how people are reacting to the dinner hour each day. I check in around 3:30, which is getting on to dinnertime on the East Coast, and then periodically as the West Coast starts cooking.

I offer suggestions from our Special Fork recipe database to people who are bemoaning their dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now!

Some people are musing about whether they should make dinner or get takeout. The answer is, it’s often easier and faster to cook something at home. Not to mention healthier, tastier and cheaper.

The tweets that frustrate me are from young people who complain that they don’t like what their mother is making for dinner or that they’re hungry and mom still hasn’t started cooking. It seems to me, if you don’t like what your mom is cooking, or if you want to eat now, cook something yourself!

I get it that cooking takes time and messes up the kitchen with dishes to wash. When I don’t have time to cook, or really and truly don’t want to do it, I turn to the easiest and quickest recipes on Special Fork. Mostly, these dishes are made with ground meat or cheese, which take nominal prep time.

Here are four of my choices for some of the best quick dinners from the Special Fork database.

Stir-Fry Curry Ground Beef: This delicious Thai recipe, from Dave’s wife Lynn, doesn’t require a trip to a specialty Asian supermarket. I wasn’t sure about the curry powder and soy sauce combination at first, but it really works.

  • Clocks in at 15 minutes, start to finish
  • Difficulty level 1 (the easiest)
  • 6 ingredients
  • To wash afterwards: 1 cutting board, 1 knife, 1 set of measuring spoons, 1 skillet and 1 wooden spoon

Old School Tacos: This family favorite from Andrew Hunter is the kind of tacos you would get at an old-style L.A. taco stand.

  • Clocks in at 12 minutes, start to finish
  • Difficulty level 1 (the easiest)
  • 12 ingredients (almost all are spices – you may have to invest in a few you don’t have)
  • To wash afterwards: 1 cutting board, 1 knife, 1 set of measuring spoons, 1 skillet and 1 wooden spoon

Ma Po Tofu: This is a Chinese tofu and ground pork dish that can be made with basic supermarket ingredients. Check the packaging, but usually vacuum-sealed tofu has a pretty long shelf life, so you can keep a package handy in the fridge.

  • Clocks in at 16 minutes, start to finish
  • Difficulty level 1 (the easiest)
  • 9 ingredients
  • To wash afterwards: 1 cutting board, 1 knife, 1 set of measuring spoons, 1 measuring cup, 1 skillet, 1 wooden spoon and 1 small bowl

Eggplant Parm Stacks: Lori Powell’s recipe, a dinner for one, captures all the flavors of eggplant parmesan in a quicker, simpler form.

  • Clocks in at 25 minutes, start to finish
  • Difficulty level 1 (the easiest)
  • 6 ingredients
  • To wash afterwards: 1 cutting board, 1 knife, 1 set of measuring spoons, 1 grater, 1 pastry brush and 1 baking sheet

For more quick recipes, you can search the Special Fork database by cook time and/or prep time. Just go to the “Find Recipes” tab, search by “Other/Advanced.”

Remember that all Special Fork recipes take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. But cooking time may be as short as 5 minutes, or as long as several hours. Sometime additional marinating time may be required. At Special Fork, we believe that prep time – the active time you need to contribute – not cooking time, is the barrier to cooking more often. Otherwise, we would have to live a life without comforting roasts or long-simmering stews.

No matter how you search, results bring up a summary page for each recipe to give you cook time, prep time, level of difficulty and special cooking equipment needs, clearly outlined, to help you make your recipe selection, customized to your time constraints, skill level and cooking tools available.

Photo by Lori Powell.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.



Related posts:

  1. Some Quick Meals to Survive the Holiday Frenzy
  2. Make Ghostly Halloween Treats in Minutes
  3. A Cook-it-Yourself Dinner Party
  4. More Kitchen Sink Dinners
  5. Stuffing in 30 Minutes

Posted: Feb 2nd by Sandy_Hu