How to Cook Healthy Meals in Less Time – 2 Meal Types That You Can Easily Prepare in 30 Minutes


If your schedule is tight but you want to prepare a healthy meal in the little time you have, then you need to choose your meal types wisely. No matter how good you are, you won’t get a lasagne on the table in half an hour. Instead, stick to meal types that allow quick preparation, choose ingredients that are ready for use and short-cooking, and keep the number of ingredients small.

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Two meal types which take less time to prepare are

  • soups and stews
  • pasta with sauce, frozen vegetables or salad
  1. Soups and stews
  • Boil the water for your stock with the kettle. At the same time, set a pot with a little water on the stove, cover it and heat it on highest temperature so that the pot is hot when your kettle boils.
  • Choose one or two fresh ingredients that require little preparation (no peeling, no pip- removal) and are fairly fast cooking. Tomatoes, marrows, mushrooms and aubergines are great examples.
  • Slice the veggies or cut them into 1 cm cubes, as smaller pieces cook faster than large ones.
  • Top up with one or two additional vegetables that are canned or frozen. Add the frozen ones shortly after the fresh ones to give them time to cook. Canned foods can be added a few minutes before the end of cooking time as they just need to warm up.
  • Only cook the vegetables until they are just soft. Set a timer for 10 minutes and check if they are done. If not, check again after 5 minutes.


  1. Pasta with sauce, frozen vegetables or salad
  • If you are in a big rush, 3 minutes noodles and a sauce that just needs to be warmed can be an option. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to prepare a simple sauce whilst your pasta is cooking.
  • Remember that vegetables are vegetables, no matter in which form they come. If you have a large portion of tomato sauce you don’t need to add a salad to your pasta dish. But include a portion of protein rich foods, like legumes, leftover meat pieces or low-fat cheese.
  • A great asset for pasta sauces are canned vegetables. 3-4 cans (240g each) make four servings of sauce. For example, fry a chopped onion in a bit of olive oil until golden, add two cans of tomato puree and a can of sliced mushrooms and one of peas, heat it up and season with a bit of salt, black pepper and oregano.

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  • Another option is to use a frozen vegetable mix. Cook it according to the instructions on the packet, season and mix it under the pasta. Frozen vegetables can be used straight from the freezer and take about half the cooking time of the same amount of fresh veggies so that you can cook them in approximately the same time like your pasta.
  • Salad is another side dish you can easily prepare whilst cooking your pasta. Choose a green salad as base and add vegetables that don’t require cooking, like sliced cucumber, red or yellow pepper and cheery tomatoes. Chopped nuts can add some bite to your salad, or grated cheese if you have at hand.

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The big advantage about soups, stews and pasta sauces is that you can prepare them whenever you have the time (bulk cooking is a great method here) and then keep the portions you need in your freezer. To safe time on the actual cooking day, take them out over night and allow defrosting in the fridge so that they are ready for use when you need them.
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