Lately, Katie and I have become professionals at making 15 minute meals happen. Here’s the rundown. In her career, Katie has a very busy season from January to March (right now). Owning a CrossFit box, I’m typically not home until 8:30 or 9:00 pm. This means neither of us has the opportunity to take even 45 minutes to an hour to prepare food when we get back from our days. For some, this might mean resorting to frozen meals (sorry, just not a fan) or a food delivery service such a Blue Apron (I weirdly enjoy the grocery store) or perhaps ordering pizza (not very healthy). For us, however, we’ve discovered a way to get fresh meals put together in no more than 15 minutes, and it is so easy I’m certain you can do it, as well.
15 Minute Meals Preparation:
Now, there is some preparation needed here. The only food which takes longer than 15 minutes to prepare and cook is meat. Therefore, you need to make a large batch of protein for your 15 minute meals beforehand. The best way to do this is to simply add another pound or two to your normal habit of meal preparation. For example, let’s say you make 10 lunches each week (5 for each person) and that uses 2 pounds of meat, or 4 ounces per meal.
To make 15 minute meals possible each night, add another 2 pounds of meat to that meal preparation. Chances are, you’re able to make twice as much with almost no extra effort. Additionally, keep a package of eggs in the house at all times. When you’re out of a meat option (or simply don’t want it) eggs are a great protein source which cook up in almost no time.
Next, you need to always have quick-cooking vegetables on hand. Depending on your nutrition, it may be all you need to go along with your meat for your 15 minute meals. Quick cooking vegetables include:
- Bell peppers of any variety
- Tomatoes (yes, they’re a fruit, I get it)
- Summer squash such as zucchini
- Shaved Brussels sprouts
- Sugar snap peas or snow peas
- Spicy peppers (jalapenos, Serranos, etc)
It’s also helpful to have leafy green vegetables around at all times. For one, they’re extremely healthy and should be a part of your diet. Number two, you don’t have to cook them, so if you get home and have literally no energy, they are your best friend. My favorites are:
- Arugula (great with a lemon vinaigrette)
- Spring Mix
- Napa Cabbage
Finally, you have your carb sources. There are a lot of ways you can address this, depending on what you need and what you like. White rice takes only 20 minutes to cook, but that is outside of our 15 minute meals time window, so you’d have to make a large batch and have leftovers for this. Most of the options here are going to be quickest if you already made them; however, potatoes and sprouted grain bread are both great options which take about 5-7 minutes to have ready.
For us, we always have a few sweet potatoes in the pantry which you can just stab, put in the microwave, and have done in almost no time at all. With bread, whether it is a loaf of sprouted grain such as Ezekiel, or a full loaf such as the Simple Truth loaf from Kroger, simply toast it according to package directions and you’re ready. I like this best when I’m eating eggs as my protein.
As always, remember to eat according to your plan and your goals. If you’re trying to gain weight, have a few more carbs. If you’re trying to lean out, keep the carb servings small and up that vegetable intake. 15 minute meals are infinitely customizable, which is why they are so great.
15 Minute Meals example: Re-Fried Rice
- 1 Cup Pre-Cooked White Rice
- 4 ounces Cooked Chicken Breast
- 1 Cup Snow Peas
- 1/2 Large Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 1 Garlic Clove, diced
- 1 T Soy Sauce
- 1 Egg, beaten
- Coconut Oil Spray
- Cumin, Coriander, Red Chili Flake (optional and to taste)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cilantro (optional)
- Put a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spray with coconut oil.
- When hot, toss in the red bell pepper, and cook until softened slightly. Add in the sugar snap peas, and garlic. Toss together with a dash of salt.
- When the vegetables have charred slightly, add in the chicken and rice, as well as the spices you’re using.
- Let the rice start to crisp, and then add in the egg and toss to combine. Add in the soy sauce, sprinkle on half of the cilantro, and remove from the heat.
- Serve with a little fresh cilantro on top, and soy sauce on the side. Enjoy!