The basics for so many recipes can be prepared ahead of time so you can make hearty meals in about 20 minutes. Restaurants pre-cook and prep different parts of a meal all the time that is how they get a meal to you so quickly and you can do this at home as well.
One of the most used appliances in my kitchen is my slow cooker commonly known as a crock pot. The slow cooker allows me to make meals without standing over the stove stirring. Basically you can dump stuff into the Crockpot and walk away from it and return in a couple of hours later to find a wonderfully delicious, healthy meal. The other thing I use my crock pot for is to cook things in bulk that I will use later in other recipes. Take chicken for instance. I have a 6 quart Hamilton Beach meal maker - slow cooker so I am able to fit 2 small whole chickens in it. I add 2 cups of water to the chicken and then cook the chicken on high for about 5 hours. I separate the meat from the bones and divide it up into smaller meal sized portions and put them in the freezer. I turn the crock pot back on high with the chicken stock and bones and let it cook more. Later I let it cool down then I pour the chicken stock into a strainer to remove all the bones. I then divide the stock up into smaller portions and put those into the freezer also. Now I have tender cooked chicken that melts in your mouth and loads of healthy stock to use in recipes.
Many great recipes can be made in less than 20 minutes if you prepare some of the ingredients beforehand. Here is one of my favorite flavorful recipes using chicken stock and precooked pasta with fresh carrots in under 20 minutes Whole Baby Carrot Recipe
Bean and grain soaking is another speedy way of making healthy food in less time. I have a variety of dried beans, grains and rice's in my pantry that normally take a long time to cook, especially if you are talking dried beans. You can soak beans for 24 hours in the refrigerator and they will last for about 4-5 days. To soak beans take a glass bowl (I use Pyrex) and place the beans into it adding twice as much boiling water as beans, stir and let it cool down, then put the bowl into the refrigerator. There are different soaking times for rice's and grains which will be discussed in greater detail in other articles on this site.
Cooking pasta ahead of time is something that is very easy to do and saves lots of time when you need to get a meal on the table fast. Under-cook the pasta, drain the water off and dump it into cold ice water to stop the cooking. You can toss the pasta with a small amount of oil to prevent it from sticking together then you place it in the refrigerator. When you need the pasta just dump it into a pot of boiling water to reheat it and taste it to make sure it is done. You can also just dump the pasta into the dish you are making if the dish if you plan on cooking it a little bit.