I get asked frequently how my cooking has changed since having a baby. I’m lucky because my time right now is either spent with the baby or working on this site which means I’m still cooking quite a bit. However, my nights have morphed from having two hours to cook dinner to wondering how 7:00pm arrived so quickly. Rarely is there a night that I am able to start dinner before the baby heads to bed. That is where my cooking has changed.
I need 30-minute vegetarian dinners more than ever. So to jump start your cooking this new year, I wanted to share a few of my favorite 30 minute meals. Some take a small bit of prep ahead of time (cooking up a batch of brown rice and freezing it, etc) but it’s worth the planning ahead.
Quick Red Lentil Curry with Spinach
When it comes to quick meals, red lentils are a favorite of mine. They can cook up fast and are great when added to soups and curries. This particular curry relies on store-bought curry paste and can easily be served with a quick cooking grain like quinoa or millet.
Bok Choy Noodle Soup
A must in winter, this bok choy soup is full of flavor but easy on time. While I really enjoy using ramen noodles, you could use udon, soba or a good gluten-free noodle instead.
Moroccan Carrot Millet Salad
This carrot salad has become a weekly staple in our house. To make it a whole dinner, I toss in a couple handfuls of chickpeas.
Chipotle Black Bean and Avocado Quesadilla
One of two ways on this list to use black beans and avocado together, these quesadillas require little prep but are one my favorite weeknight dinners. It’s often the answer to the question, “I don’t have a plan for dinner, what should I make?”
Pizza/flatbread may not seem fast but there’s a way around the dough. I’ll often make up pizza dough in advance and freeze a few balls to use throughout the month (we’re weekly pizza eaters). Or, if I didn’t plan ahead, some stores carry freshly made dough.
This bowl is all about the spice. If you’ve never tried Za’atar, I really recommend making a batch or picking some up at the store. It’s a wonderful blend that works well when tossed with vegetables, grains, and even eggs. Za’atar is the perfect way to easily up the flavor of a meal.
Smoked Paprika Red Potato Egg Bake
Easily one of my favorite recipes to make when I’m by myself for the evening, this potato bake can be tossed in the oven and left alone while doing other things. It’s filling and can easily be doubled or tripled for more people.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Chickpea salads were a staple in the past year for me while caring for a new baby. I could make up a big batch, using whatever flavors I had on hand, and could eat this chickpea mixture for days with crackers, as a sandwich, or salad.
Three Onion Fried Rice
Another way to speed up meals during the week is to cook grains in advance. Cooked grains, like rice, will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or can be frozen for up to three months. I then soak the cold brown rice in a bit of hot water, drain, and use with the lentil curry above or in a stir fry like this three onion recipe.
Turmeric Cauliflower Egg Skillet
Egg skillets are another staple in my life as you can throw a random assortment of vegetables, grains, and spice/herbs into a pan. Then to round out the meal, cook a couple eggs in the middle. This cauliflower egg skillet is not only beautiful but good too!
Spinach Pesto Noodle Bowl
A general pesto recipe is a good thing to have around because it can be adapted and updated as needed. This noodle bowl is fast and there’s no need for a large amount of basil. The pesto relies on spinach to boost the sauce. Also, if you haven’t hardboiled eggs ahead of time, this dish works well with a fried egg as well.
Vegetable Egg Bake
One recipe, endless possibilities. We eat breakfast for dinner at least once a week and while occasionally it’s waffles, more often than not it’s this egg bake filled with loads of vegetables and cheese. Some fillings will need to be cooked ahead of time but others, like spinach and onion, can tossed in raw.
Groovy Bagel Melt
While not one of the healthiest options, it’s delicious with a cup of soup or salad. This bagel melt is a fun swap for the traditional grilled cheese.
Carrot Rice Noodle Bowl with Tahini-Sriracha Sauce
Noodle bowls make a frequent appearance at dinner when I need something fast. It’s really all about the sauce and this tahini sriracha sauce is really good. I recommend making a big batch of the sauce and drizzling it over salads, grain bowls, and roasted vegetables.
Black Bean and Guac Burrito
One final reason to cook up a big batch of brown rice to use throughout the month. These burritos are a fun dinner and a good excuse to make guacamole (just try to not eat it all before assembling the burritos!)