Dinner in 30 minutes or less (and a giveaway!)

Canadian Living Dinner in 30 Minutes or LessWeeknight dinners – do they have you panicking in the supermarket aisle at 6pm wondering how you’re going to get a healthy dinner on the table?  If you can’t plan your weeknight dinners in advance (it’s what I aim for but not always possible), I have the book that you will want to carry around in your purse – The Canadian Living Test Kitchen’s Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less.  Basically, it’s a book of blueprints for weeknight dinners that are ready in 30 minutes or less.  Fab, right?

The best thing about these meals is that they take less time to get on the table than delivery and, of course, they cost less and are more nutritious. Sounds like exactly the type of meals you’re after on a busy weeknight, right?  Each recipe comes with the Canadian Living Tested-Till-Perfect guarantee, so you can be sure it will turn out perfectly.  The meals are divided into chapters according to how long they will take to make – 15, 20, 25 or 30 minutes and none of the ingredient lists are too long so you can easily flip through the book and figure out what you have time to make based on the ingredients you have on hand or can easily pick up on your way home.

Throughout the book, the Canadian Living Test Kitchen team share their best time-saving tips for whipping up a nutritious dinner in no time including invaluable information about stocking your pantry (having certain items on hand at all times will help in your food prep) and how you can save time during the week by spending a little time prepping ingredients on the weekend.  Other time-saving tips include:

  • Reading the recipe the entire way through before you start will ultimately save you time in the end as it will help you get and stay organized as you cook.
  • Cleaning up as you go. It’s all very well to make a meal in under 30 minutes but if you have to spend another 30 cleaning up afterwards, it defeats the point!
  • Using boneless or thinner cuts of meat will reduce your cooking time.
  • Turning on the oven as you arrive home so that by the time you’ve got your ingredients organized, it’s pre-heated.

I tried this Coconut Curry Shrimp and it took exactly 20 minutes from the time I stepped in the kitchen to the time I served it (to be fair, I did have most of the ingredients “ready” i.e. on hand in the pantry or fridge – I didn’t have to go hunting around and I knew for a fact that I had them all!) – it was super flavourful and the leftovers even more so.  The recipes serve 4 (and include nutritional information as well which is handy) so if there are 2 of you, you’ll have some left for lunch the next day. Score!

Coconut Curry Shrimp recipeCoconut Curry Shrimp Test Kitchen TipCoconut Curry Shrimp 20 Minute Meal(recipe and photos published with permission)

What I loved about this book was the absolute simplicity and “do-ability” of the recipes. They are simply, yet beautifully photographed and, unlike a lot of food photography, these days, you look at the dishes and think “I can do that!”  Un-fussy, beautiful food. Every night of the week. With this book you can achieve that!  The recipes themselves include information about the ingredients (and substitutions or adaptations, although the vast majority of the recipes call for very standard ingredients that you will probably have on hand anyway or will be used to buying) and any techniques involved in their preparation (nothing too complicated, I promise!), tips on how to shop smarter (saving you time in the end), storing foods and planning ahead – all factors which can help weeknight meal planning.  At just over 150 pages, it’s large enough to include a large variety of meal ideas, yet small enough to keep in your purse or on your desk at work.  It’s the perfect book to flip through for dinner inspiration, even when you think you don’t have time for dinner.

A Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less giveaway!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada, I have one copy of Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less to give away to one lucky eat. live. travel. write. reader in Canada!

How to enter:

There are 2 ways to enter (maximum of two entries per person for the duration of the contest).

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me your tricks for getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less!
2. Tweet the following message: Enter to win @CanadianLiving ‘s Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less from @SimonSchusterCA + @eatlivtravwrite ! Details: http://bit.ly/1snHMao then come back to leave a second comment letting me know you did.

Eligibility and contest rules:

– Open to Canadian residents only
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using www.random.org) from all qualified entries on Wednesday September 17th 2014 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email Thursday September 18th 2014.


Disclosure: I received a copy of Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


Congrats to Mr Gene who won my Longo’s gift card giveaway – read his excellent tips about how he copes with back to school meal planning here! I’ve send you an email, Mr Gene!

37 thoughts on “Dinner in 30 minutes or less (and a giveaway!)”

  1. At this time of year, with evening schedules hectic, you have to love recipes that really deliver on the “quick” front.

    This was more flavourful than frankly I expected. It’s not truly Indian of course, but darned tasty and made in a pinch. (And kudos to Mardi for cooking the prawns perfectly.)

    I can’t tell you the wine pairing, because it’s not really a pairing: we had a bottle of casual French Pinot Noir leftover, so I finished that off. Yes, yes….I know. But I had a touch before dinner, so wasn’t about to open a NEW bottle or let this one go down the sink. Not as disturbing as I was expecting – perhaps as more new world in style. 🙂

  2. The key for us is to keep staples in the house. Pasta, tomato sauce, fresh greens, proteins. If you have a good basic kitchen stocked, then even if you haven’t fully meal planned, a good recipe book or site will get you done quickly.

  3. I plan ahead so that on days I know I’ll be in a rush I choose something quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes I also cut up the ingredients and store them in the fridge and (a trick from Nigella Lawson), I freeze meat in its marinade in plastic bags–all ready to cook.

  4. The best method for getting dinner on the table quickly for me is to plan ahead; otherwise, I mess around and start thinking about dinner right around the time we ought to be eating….

    The other essential is to always have the basics on hand.


  5. I make a meal plan at the beginning of every week and a grocery list to pick up any fresh items needed for that week. Keeping my pantry stocked with staple items is also a must for me.

  6. Planning meals is a great! Which we do usually the night before and take out the meats and ingredients required.
    Yup most times this is great but after the past two days of getting home late … due to traffic! But last night these plans were shelved and Pizza was called in!

    Loved reading this as I’m a big fan of Canadian Living in which case this book will purchase to be part of my collection.

  7. I prepare as much as I can the night before – chop veggies, wash herbs, mix up sauces – and I keep it simple. Fresh, delicious ingredients don’t need a lot done to them to make a great meal

  8. I try to prep the night before or that morning, so that when it comes to putting it together it only takes a few minutes, and the cooking time.

  9. My trick for getting dinner on the table quickly is to big batch prep and portioning. I have also discovered how advantageous it is to meal plan for the week so that I know what to do with my left overs and can even precook meat. Would love to in this book! If I don’t it’s going on my Christmas list:)

  10. I have to echo Krissy. The crockpot is my new favourite tool. I’m also just darn grateful to have a proper kitchen (I just moved into a house from a condo, it’s SO MUCH BETTER). Other than that, I like to think about what meals I’m going to have before I grocery shop, and we buy the ingredients for those every week – I feel like this book would be a big help in that.

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  11. Key for me is meal planning, so that I know what I need to use up in a timely manner and I have planned a meal for each night of the week. Sometimes I’ll cook a new recipe (from a 15 – 30 minute cookbook) or sometimes I’ll combine left overs with fresh ingredients to create a new, quick meal.

  12. I would love to win this cookbook – I’m a huge fan of Canadian Living recipes. And my biggest tip for getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes is being organized – sometimes easier said than done!

  13. It’s almost quitting time here and I was just thinking “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”
    Love this shrimp recipe. So quick and easy. We have spring onions growing in the garden and jumbo shrimp in the freezer. All I have to do is pick up some sweet peppers and limes on my way home.
    Thanks for sharing, Mardi!

  14. I have two methods i use to try to get meals on the table in under 30 minures I try to get most of the ingredients prepared on the weekend because I find prepping ingredients usually takes the longest. The other method is doing meals that are cook once eat twice.

  15. I discovered that cleaning and chopping a supply of veggies on the weekend helps make meal prep a lot easier and faster – which helps reduce the appeal of take out food!

  16. My trick for getting meals on the table in 30 minutes is prepping on Sunday and meal plans. I grab whatever I need from the freezer or fridge pre-cut/ chopped, etc. put rice cooker or pasta on. Meat thawed in thaw bowl. All easily comes together. I also stick to familiar recipes during the week.

  17. My trick is to keep it simple during the week. Not every dish needs to be a ‘recipe’. Roast some broccoli, steam some rice, and bake a few chicken breasts with your favorite sauce (Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour, Pesto) and there ya go.
    Also, bagged salads. Sometimes if that’s what it takes to get salad on the plate, then it’s better than nothing!

  18. My solution is to put random things in the crockpot…and create some kind of stew that’s magically ready when I get home!


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