30-minute meal ideas for a stress-free autumn term

With both kids now off to school I’ve been making a real effort to keep my evenings organised. So far have been on top of it with meals, but there are always those days when we just don’t have the time or inclination to slave over the stove, these are usually Monday’s here as the children have swimming lessons straight from school. I wanted to share my family’s favourite 30-minute meals, which range from cheap and quick to something a little more indulgent. Most recipes are also made up of things we tend to have in the cupboard or freezer, so there’s no need to do the dreaded mid-week top-up shop.

Cornflake chicken

I find that the breaded chicken method where you coat in flour, egg then breadcrumb is really messy and creates piles of washing up. So when I came across this idea for cornflake chicken I had to give it a go (if you’re not convinced, think of the crushed cornflakes like a rugged polenta). The lemon and pepper seasoning in the yogurt adds a really nice zing – just dip the chicken in then add the cornflake layer. Parmesan is included for extra flavour and ensures the coating goes really crispy when cooked in the oven.

Omelette, fries and peas

This is our go-to on nights when we’re going between school and clubs, as the chips and peas only take five minutes each. Pop the Quick Cook Fries from McCain in the oven at 230˚C and you’ve got the perfect french fries in just five to seven minutes. Cooking the omelettes in batches means that the total time spent on this meal can rack up to 15 minutes – still pretty impressive for a family dinner. I like my omelette with bacon, cheese and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge.


A bit of a winner in our house, we always keep a bag of tortilla chips in the cupboard so we can knock up some quick sharing nachos. We toast ours in the oven for a few minutes and top with some spiced beef mince and grated cheese so it goes nice and melty. When then add sour cream, ready-made salsa from Old el Paso and a dollop of guacamole. If you have some chilli in the fridge that you’ve saved from a previous batch, you could use that instead of the mince – or pop some sliced jalapenos on if you like it really hot!

Spring lamb, vegetable platter, mint sauce, Chianti gravy

Of course Jamie Oliver is the master of 30-minute meals, but generally you have to be prepared – oven turned on and kettle boiled – to make sure you get it all cooked within half an hour. If you want a treat one night but don’t have the time to cook for hours, this spring lamb dish is super easy, although there are lots of steps. If you’re more of a novice at cooking, you might want to try it without the pudding first time.

Feeding the family on those busy weekday evenings can be a daunting task, yet there are a whole host of inspirational meal ideas to be discovered. What’s your favourite 30-minute dish?

**Collaborative post**

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