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“30 Minute Meals?” Who’s Got That Long?

“30 Minute Meals?” Who’s Got That Long?


John Clark shares ideas for when you’ve got no time to be in the kitchen, and how to cook meals in less than thirty minutes.

My wife used to like to watch the show Thirty Minute Meals, but she never seems to have thirty minutes—in a row—to devote to cooking.

I know a lot of us are in the same boat, and we want to help out our wives as best we can. So I have come up with a list of seven culinary possibilities for homeschooling Dads that take far less than that long.

Every one of these has worked well for me, and I encourage you to try them. Try to remind yourself, as impressive as these may seem, I have never had a single cooking lesson.

If I can do it, you can do it.

1. Order a pizza.

This doesn’t take long at all. Two or three minutes on the phone and you’re back to laundry sorting (or, as your wife might call it, “just holding clothes while watching Columbo”).

Like a brilliant card trick, food arrives at your door shortly thereafter. Voila.

2. Macaroni and Cheese.

Long considered a staple of the Clark family diet, macaroni and cheese takes ten minutes to make. Ten minutes!

Throw a few bread crumbs on top, and you’ve got a gourmet meal. Even better, if it’s Lent, dump in a few cans of tuna fish.

The fact that you can feed a family of eleven for under ten bucks is the gravy (but don’t use actual gravy on Fridays during Lent—unless it’s fish gravy, and no one ever wants “seconds” on that).

3. Drive-Through Window.

I have found that ordering at a drive-through window usually takes under ten minutes—start to finish!

In fact, I have spent less than three minutes in line at times. How do they make the food that fast? Who knows? What difference does it make?

Either way, you’re eating a hot meal, and your kids are spilling fries in your Suburban in a matter of seconds. Folks, that’s not a thirty-minute meal—that’s a thirty-second meal.

If you have access to something like this, I heartily recommend it.

4. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.

When I was growing up, my mother—saintly, but not immune to the hyperbole that so often accompanies parenthood—counseled us boys to never a commit a crime and go to prison. Why?

“Because in prison,” she warned us, “for dinner, all they do is hand you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” I don’t know what all the worry was about.

I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Time for me to brag a little: I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in under a minute.

And with the proper dedication and training, so can you! Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: there is a problem with PB & J’s. Nothing goes with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can’t eat potato chips with it, nor pretzels, nor Doritos.

You can’t even use a garnish, like a sprig of parsley, on the plate. Granted, that’s a problem.

But I have devoted a lot of thought to this, and I have found that a glass of milk does go pretty well, and gives the kids an opportunity to dunk their food (which they tend to do anyway).

5. Bag of Chips.

You go to your cupboard. You grab a bag of chips. You open the bag. You’re eating in under a minute. Top that.

6. Cereal.

As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but who’s got time? “Yeah, yeah, John, tell us something that we don’t know,” you object.

Well, here’s the payoff. Even assuming the worst possible set of circumstances (all the bowls are dirty, you can’t find a spoon, your daughter drank the last of the milk the previous night, etc.), you’re eatin’ cereal in minutes.

Your morning threw you a few curve balls, did it? No problem. You pour the Trix into a coffee mug, you fill it with half-n-half, and you drink it.

Your day is started—in under fifteen minutes.

7. Go to Your Parent’s House for Dinner.

Granted, I’m using a little poetic license here, because it depends on how far away your Mom & Dad’s house is.

If your parents live farther than thirty miles away, and you plan on getting there by car, that ain’t no thirty minute meal.

But, in my case, my Mom and Dad live a mere five minutes away.

Even if you factor in the 22 minutes it takes to load my kids into the car, I’m still beating the clock.

Cost? Negligible. (Unless your brother shows up to talk about his job, complicating the thirty-minute part of the equation, and compromising your digestion.)

There you have it: seven meals in under thirty minutes.

To you homeschooling Dads: don’t bother with letters of thanks.

It’s reward to enough to know that I probably just changed a lot of lives.


Header Image CC roy-benjamin

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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