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Prepping is Key to the 20-Minute Meal Mission

Ever had the frustrating experience of diving into a recipe that claims to be ready in 20 minutes, but it ends up taking double that? Talk about setting the stage for a serious case of HANGRY. Well, we've come up with a list of suggestions that might make that time-crunched goal more realistic. It all boils down to proper prepping and savvy shopping. Relax. You've got this.

Chop Once, Cook Twice

Chopped Vegetables

Chopped Vegetables | Photo by Meredith

If you're not a fan of chopping veggies, you're not alone. It can be so time consuming, especially if you're trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Try making this chore more manageable by doing it in advance. Set aside some time in the morning or double up when you're cooking over the weekend. If a recipe calls for one onion, chop two and place it in an airtight sealed container for use later. (You can even freeze most vegetables, so there's no waste.) Arrange all your ingredients on a cutting board or a baking sheet — chefs call this mis en place — because having everything handy cuts down on the time you'll spend running back and forth between the fridge and the stove.

No Shame in Getting an Assist at the Supermarket

Spiralized Salad with Tomatoes

Photo by Meredith

In a real rush? Most supermarkets sell pre-prepped veggies these days. Sometimes, they're even cut into cool shapes or spiralized. Take a trip to the salad bar. Again, supermarkets are always looking to make cooking a whole lot easier to encourage more people to do it. While those prepped veggies might cost a little more, it's so worth it.

Preheat/Preheat/Preheat

Salmon in skillet with a nice sear

Salmon in skillet with a nice sear | Photo by Meredith

First thing's first: Before tackling any prep, it's essential to crank up the oven, start the water boiling for pasta, polenta or rice, turn up the temp on the skillet. Unless you're cooking in a microwave, bringing everything up to temp in the beginning of the process makes cooking go much more quickly.

Prep Makes Cleanup Easier

Taking the time to get organized on the front end makes doing the dishes and putting away ingredients a whole lot more manageable. Which makes for a lot more relaxing dinner, right?

Feel inspired? Check out more than 39,000 quick and easy Everyday Cooking recipes.

About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!