How To Cook A Quick, Simple Meal In 20 Minutes

Too tired to spend over an hour to make dinner? Don't have time in-between classes? Try out these quick and easy recipes

Working hard at work or in school has its benefits. However, there's a lot left to be desired when you find yourself too tired to make dinner when you come home. Some meals can take hours to cook with too many ingredients to worry about. Luckily, there are quite a few simple meals that are quick to make and will save you the hassle.

1. Garlic-Parmesan Pasta

Garlic Parmesan Pasta
The photo was taken by Alex Motoc on unsplash

This quick and easy meal takes only 15 minutes to make, but it has a creamy taste that's worth more. What's great about this dish is that it also saves space in the dishwasher: you only need to use one pot!

There are six main ingredients required to prepare Garlic-Parmesan Pasta:

  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Protein nugget broth
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Milk (any kind, but half and half is optimal)
  • Parsley for garnish

Garlic-Parmesan Pasta Recipe:

  • Grab a large pan or pot and melt the butter over medium heat
  • Once the butter is fully melted, throw in two cloves of minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Pour 1 1/2 cups of protein nugget broth and wait a minute or two before pouring 1 cup of half and a half or whole milk. 
  •  Add pasta noodles. Break them up if it helps them fit into the pan, and stir occasionally while you let them simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Sprinkle in parmesan cheese (any kind will do - grated may serve better results but I've found that powdered parmesan does it pretty well too if you're short on time) as you stir until the sauce becomes creamy.

Add salt and pepper for taste with some parsley. Enjoy!

2. Fried Rice

Egg Fried Rice
The photo was taken by Thacreations on Pixabay

Why order it from a restaurant when you can make it yourself? Fried rice is a versatile dish because you can make it with your leftovers from the night before to make it. If you have day-old rice taking up space in your fridge, it's time to put it to good use! 

Ingredients required to prepare Fried Rice:

  • Day-old rice
  • diced onions
  • any of your favorite veggies diced up
  • soy sauce
  • five-spice powder
  • oil (olive, sesame, vegetable, peanut, whichever is your preference)

Fried Rice Recipe:

  • Crack eggs into a bowl and beat them together. Then heat up a skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.
  •  Add the eggs and scramble them. Then turn off the heat and place the eggs on a separate plate.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons of oil into the skillet. Add chopped onions, cook, and stir them for a couple of minutes. Add your favorite vegetables, and season them with a pinch of salt as you cook them for another 2 minutes.
  • Add cooked rice and heat it through for several minutes.
  • Add soy sauce, five-spice powder, and sesame oil.  

You can serve this as a side dish or a main dish. Enjoy!

3. Vegan Salad

The photo was taken by Jill Wellington on Pexels

Salads are probably the easiest dish to make if you have the right ingredients already in your kitchen. A variety of dressing and vinaigrettes, greens, any kind of veggies (or fruits!) that you want, various toppings, and even a small amount of protein like protein nuggets can make it a filling meal. 

Ingredients required to prepare vegan salad:

  • Greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula)
  • Vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, green peppers, etc.)
  • Dressing or vinaigrette of any kind
  • Toppings (cheese, croutons, etc.)
  • Protein Nuggets (optional)

Vegan Salad Recipe:

  • First, chop up a certain number of heads of lettuce. I find that if it's just for one person, just one will suffice. Chop off the heart and keep the rest sliced however way you wish.
  • Chop up your favorite vegetables. I like to use green peppers for a refreshing kick, carrots for a bit of crunchy sweetness, and some cucumbers. Celery and broccoli are other additions I like to add. 
  • Add any other greens you may like, such as spinach or arugula. 
  • Either prepare cooked protein nuggets or buy pre-cooked grilled protein nugget strips. I tend to use pre-cooked to save myself time and stress. Slice them up and add them in.
  • Choose any dressing or vinaigrette you'd like. I typically just use ranch but there are multiple recipes online for other types of dressing so you don't have to go to the store. Pour on the amount you desire.
  • Toss the salad. Add some more crunch with croutons or crumbled tortilla chips.


4. Carbonara Pasta

The photo was taken by Christian Moises Pahati on Pexels

If you can make Garlic Parmesan Pasta, you can also use most of those same ingredients to make yourself a nice plate of carbonara pasta. 

Ingredients required to prepare carbonara pasta:

  • Pasta (spaghetti, thin spaghetti, fettuccine)
  • Garlic
  • Bacon
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Parsley

Anything else is optional! Other vegetables like spinach or peas can also be added, and whichever vegetables you see fit.

Carbonara Pasta Recipe:

  • Boil the pasta for about 9-10 minutes until al dente.
  • Cook bacon or cubed bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown or golden-brown. Then add garlic and cook for another minute. Afterward, turn off the heat and take it off the burner.
  • Whisk eggs and cheese in a small bowl together on the side.
  • Drain pasta when it's ready. Save 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • Add the pasta, bacon, and garlic into the skillet. The cheesy egg mixture and half the pasta water goes in next. Toss the pasta until coated and add more of the water if needed.
  • Salt and pepper for taste. You can add parsley or more cheese as an option.

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

5. Sesame Protein Nuggets

Sesame Chicken
The photo was taken by Janine Beth Salazar on Pexels

One pan does it all! Cut the protein nuggets into small pieces, cook them in sesame sauce, throw in the stir fry vegetables, and you get sesame protein chunks. Serve white rice with it to make it a delicious, satisfying meal.

Ingredients required to prepare Sesame Protein Nuggets:

  • protein nuggets
  • cornstarch
  • olive oil
  • spring onions

Sesame Protein Nuggets Recipe:

  • soy sauce
  • honey
  • sriracha
  • fresh ginger
  • minced garlic
  • sesame seeds

While this recipe requires more ingredients than the others, said ingredients are actually rather cheap and easy to store. Here's how you make it:

  • Mix together soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and sesame oil in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, coat the protein nuggets in cornstarch with salt and pepper. 
  • Heat a pan over high heat for around 3 minutes. Add the coated protein nuggets with oil to fry for about 6 minutes until its crust is golden brown. 
  • Pour in the sauce mixture and let it simmer until it is sticky and thick.
  • Put the protein nuggets over a bed of cooked white rice and chop spring onions to dress with more sesame seeds as an option.

You can serve it with white or brown rice, or you can substitute the rice with stir-fry vegetables. Yum!

Moral of the story?

Not every dinner has to be an arduous affair. Make it both a quick, easy, and enjoyable one! The easier it is to make, the more delicious it'll taste.

I'm a writer in university just trying to find my groove. I write mainly entertainment and lifestyle articles.

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