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20 Minute Meals

Do you have time every day to prepare a home cooked meal for your loved ones? Who does? Here are some recipes for quick meals – 20 minutes or less. Here’s a tip, too: cut your preparation time by using frozen vegetables, meats that are prepared, sauces, and mixes. (Although these may not be the best choice for a money conserving family!)

Pizza Fingers with Marinara Sauce (you know the kids will love this recipe)

1/3 cup Shake N’ Bake Extra crispy seasoned coating mix
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (or buy a block and grate it yourself)
1 Tbsp. oregano leaves, dried
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into thirds (long ways)
1 jar spaghetti (or marinara) sauce, cold or warm
2 cups steamed vegetables (steamed helps to keep vitamins, better for your kids)
8 soft breadsticks (you can add cheese or garlic on top to suit your tastes).

Preheat your oven to 400F. Put the Shake N’ Bake mixture, grated Parmesan, and oregano into a plastic bag; shake well to mix.

Place the chicken breast strips into the plastic bag and shake, roll, toss, any way you can think of to get that coating around the meat evenly. Take the strips out and place them side by side in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. (Sometimes this size pan is not readily available to you – rest assured, as I don’t think it’s going to hurt to use a different pan. Just keep an eye on the cooking time as it could change.)

Bake for 20 minutes (or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Be sure to check this, as improperly prepared/cooked meat can lead to possible illness.) Serve the “pizza” sticks with breadsticks, the steamed vegetables, and marinara sauce and watch them disappear!

Stir-fry Chicken with Vegetables and Rice

If you can buy pre-sliced chicken for this, go for it! (You can use beef, chicken or pork, but note that chicken is the leanest meat.) It cuts the preparation time down if it’s already half prepared when you get it. Coat a large skillet (preferably a wok) with cooking spray. Set your oven burner for about medium to medium high heat. Toss the meat in with stir-fry sauce (or if you’re feeling a little antsy, try teriyaki sauce or even lemon juice with garlic) and cook until almost done; this may also be a good time to put instant rice on the stove to cook. Add frozen vegetables (fresh vegetables work, too, but take longer to prepare) and more of the sauce you chose; cook until chicken is done and vegetables are tender. Serve with rice and watch a wonderful meal, with little effort, be consumed almost as fast as your grandmother’s homecooked meals.

Tilapia and Yellow Squash

1 pound tilapia or any kind of mild fish fillets (4 fillets, preferably)

1/2 cup of chili sauce

1 whole tomato, seeds removed and vegetable diced

2 small yellow squash, sliced or chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or buy in block and grate it yourself)

Put the fish fillets, thickest part out, on a microwave safe plate. (Thickest part out because microwaves use waves to heat food, they radiate from the outside in. The first part to be cooked will be the outside.) Place microwave safe clear wrap over them, making sure to vent one corner, and microwave on the high heat setting for 3 minutes. (This time may vary from microwave to microwave.)

When the three minutes are up, drain the plate well. Slather 2 tablespoons of chili sauce on each fish, then place tomato chunks and squash slices on top. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the top of these four masterpieces. Get a little creative while you’re placing things on top, too – make it colorful and fun to eat!

After placing vegetables and cheese on top of the meat, cover the dish again with the clear wrap and place in the microwave for another 3-4 minutes on the high heat setting. Continue these three to four minute cooking times until the fish flakes when disturbed by a fork, and the squash, are tender. Be sure to check the food every time the microwave is done.

Now you have a delightful meal full of vitamins for everyone to enjoy. Estimated to make four servings.

Here are three simple recipes for 20 minutes or under meals. Try them, change them, and create your own – there are endless possibilities when food is coupled with imagination.