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30 Minute Meals?

I was wondering if anyone has ever tried one of Rachel Ray’s thirty minute meals. Can it really be done in half an hour?

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  1. I don't know, but she's really taking the naming to an extreme. The other week she made Notsagne (basically penne with riccotta, tomato, sausage, etc.) and last week it was Shish-ka-hold-the-bobs. Which was basically lamb and grilled veggies over rice.

    I don't doubt that you can make them in a half hour, though. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of the time she's got mise en place set up (under the guise that she acctually comes home from the grocery store and preps all her veggies for the week at once.)

    1. I read an interview with her and she said that there isn't a timer running, and not everyone should expect to do it in 30 minutes. For example, she said, knife skills play a big part in how quickly you get everything going. Someone like me, with no knife skills whatsoever, would probably take closer to an hour. :-P

      Totally OT, but don't you wish you had her appliances? I'd kill for her fridge and her broiler. :-D

      1. My friend (who reads a lot of internet gossip columns on every topic imaginable...not that that means what she said is true) says a common complaint about RR recipes is that they can NOT be completed in 30 minutes. Like others have said, she has everything cleaned and neatly packaged and portioned out in the fridge, and she has decent knife skills, and someone's laid out all the pots and pans she needs.

        Having said that, you could do the same for yourself the night before and get closer to that 30 minute mark the day that you need to cook.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pei

          Exactly the same complaint I've read - you should expect to spend an hour to 2.5 hours on her "30 Minute Meals", depending on the prep.

        2. I haven't tried her recipes so I personally can't say if they are doable in 30 minutes. I was interested in the same topic so I have checked the feedback on amazon.com that people have left regarding her cookbooks. The comments are from people who have actually used her recipes and they might be helpful for your research. The other option is to pick a recipe from the food network website and give it a go.

          1. Well, after just watching her spaghetti and meatball episode, I can definitely say that it would be terribly difficult to make this one in 30 minutes. Yes, you can multitask, but even with a 20-30 minute cook on the sauce, you're looking at more like an hour from start to finish. That's not bad, but you could certainly do this the day ahead, and just boil up the pasta and make a salad in 1/2 hour.

            1 Reply
            1. re: personalcheffie

              I just wish that all the ingredients I needed were right in front of me when I open the cupboards. That would save me a good 5 minutes of rooting around.

            2. i was gifted one of her cookbooks earlier this year and figured, what the heck, i'll try it out. i've made several weeklong menus from the book, and, all in all, have been satisfied. i rejigger the recipes quite often in order to use the charcoal grill instead of cooking inside. even so, i usually have dinner done in under 50 minutes (counting from when i start the grill). when i cook inside, the meals generally take 25-40 minutes to prepare. i don't do any of the post-shopping prep she advocates, and often embellish the recipes to develope flavors more fully. i also often make a side dish instead of serving up bread or chips as she frequently advocates. in short, if you're an efficient cook, the recipes are achievable in the 30-40 minute time frame. if you tend to be scattered or have trouble multi-tasking, then they are less so. the biggest complaint i have is the number of pots and dishes some of the recipes churn through; they may be 30 minute meals, but they're also 60 minute clean-ups.

              1. I think RR's programs and books are not about teaching skills or recipes to people who already cook. They're about encourageing people to cook who think they can't, or who are out on their own for the first time. She's all about encouragement and demysistification, not about working against the clock.

                "30 minutes" is a fugure of speech here, not a line drawn in the sand. She's just telling folks that they CAN whip up something really tasty in 1/2 hour OR SO; they don't have to spend 3 hours and use every pot & pan in the kitchen, which would turn off most newbies.

                In other words, letting folks know you don't have to be a classically trained chef to cook good food. Her program strives to be the opposite of all the shows with white-coated professional chefs and their labor intensive methods. She's also sprinkling in hints about knife use and time-saving methods, things fledgling cooks can soak up.

                While I don't find many new ideas in her shows (been feeding myself for 40+ years)I can appreciate her appeal and the need she's filling. So it would take 35, 45, or 55 minutes. No biggee.

                2 Replies
                1. re: toodie jane

                  I have seen part of one of her shows. It was hilarious. She was going at a breakneck pace to prepare whatever she was making ... she was totally wired, constantly mentioning the need to complete some phase in the preparation before the next commercial break (actually, a pleasant change from the laidback ultra-competence of most TV chefs). I wouldn't let small children watch her show shortly before naptime or bedtime.

                  1. re: Timowitz

                    I have a dear SIL like her (but she's not Italian!) who wears me out sometimes, it's just the (delightful) person she is.

                    And can she COOK! never a dull meal at her house!

                2. I have one of her cookbooks and my husband and I TOGETHER tried making one of her recipes. There was no way on EARTH we were finished in half an hour. From start to finish it was definitely an hour. And that was with two sets of hands working on different parts of the recipe at once. Like someone mentioned above, if all my ingredients were just littered around my kitchen next to my lovely coordinating platters--I could be done in 30 minutes, too.

                  She can only get done in 30 minutes because she has the mannerisms of a small nervous rodent on acid.

                  1. I received a cookbook of hers for a gift and can tell you that they take between 20 and 40 minutes. Now the novice or disorganized cook would fall at the longer end of that range, or possibly take longer. Most of the recipes are quite simple and not really geared toward the cooking enthusiast. Instead, they're perfect for people who have only cooked a limited range of dishes in the past or who would be intimidated by a less simple and friendly cookbook. The results of the recipes I've made have been good and even the 'cheats' aren't too bad, nothing like that dreadful "semi-ho" nonsense that some people have convinced themselves is cooking!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kater

                      I wouldn't call myself a novice cook. Or unorganized. I happen to think the recipe was a bit too involved for 30 minutes.

                    2. I once made a salad of hers which took less than 5 minutes. But then, I didn't make the rest of the crap from that episode.

                      I will tell you one thing about RR though, her book $40 a day is pretty good. I've used it as a standby in certain cities and it can take you to some good places. Like her lunch in Memphis, or breakfast in D.C. (both of which I copied).


                      1. I've made more than a few of her recipes. I think that, with practice, her recipes can be made in 30 minutes, but not usually on the first try. Average is probably closer to 45 minutes the first time. There are few recipes that I make semi-regularly, and they are definitely 30-minute meals for me now.

                        1. Her shows and cookbooks are for the novice cook, I would say. Her presentation is annoying at best!

                          1. I can't wait for her overextended "5 minutes of fame" to come to an end. There is no escaping "Rach". What's next, she refers to herself as "Double R", "R&R", "R squared", "Rx2". Hit the road ! She was fortunate in that the premise for most of her shows was a decent idea that would be useful if they would put it in the hands of someone with the ability to speak without saying "you know" or "going on" every third sentence.

                            1. I agree she's annoying, but as a novice cook (though not a novice eater!) I have to admit her recipes are very helpful for getting a homecooked meal on the table on those nights where I'm a hungry, tired second away from ordering way too much takeout. I don't watch her shows anymore--the tone in her cookbooks is annoying enough--but I do use her recipes. They take me a bit longer than 30 minutes, but certainly less time than the recipes in most of the other cookbooks I have.

                              And speaking of her shows, at least you actually see her chopping and prepping all of her ingredients, even if her pantry is pre-stocked and the produce is pre-washed. As annoying as it is every episode to watch her juggling all the food she gets from her cupboards, it is refreshing to see that in the show, vs. all the other cooking shows you see where the mise en place is already...in place.

                              1. I find that I can make most of her recipes that I have tried in under an hour. I put everything out on the counter before I start cooking and that really helps. My problem with her recipes is that they are never very good. I'm not sure if I just have odd tastes or what, but even my fiance can do without Rachel Ray's recipes.

                                1. I have pretty good knife skills and I always prep before cooking, so if I try I can make her meals in about 30 minutes, assuming you don't count the prep time.