Photo: Food & Wine/Stephanie Foley

If you've got 30 minutes...
Let preseasoned sausage do the work. Sweet or hot Italian links may be a summertime grilling staple, but they also deserve kudos for how easily they transform into flavorful patties. Since the meat is already seasoned, all you have to do is remove the casings, form the pork into burgers, brush with oil and grill over moderate heat until browned and crusty, about 5 minutes per side. While the burgers cook, sauté a bag of baby spinach with garlic in olive oil for a fresh-tasting topping. Toasted ciabatta rolls will soak up the juices.

Photo: Anna Williams

If you've got 20 minutes...
Make Oprah's last-minute pasta. Her lemony, herby spaghetti calls for staples such as lemon juice and zest, butter, olive oil and Parmesan, plus a rotating cast of fresh herbs—Oprah suggests basil, lemon thyme and oregano, but parsley, tarragon, chives and mint work well, too. If you happen to have a bag of frozen peas on hand, add a cup or so to the pot of boiling water for the last few minutes of the pasta's cooking time and then drain the two together before mixing with the herbs.

Get the recipe: Oprah's Lemon Zest Pasta
Salmon with lime

Photo: Thinkstock

If you've got 15 minutes...
Do the salmon two-step. Pick up a lime and some salmon fillets on your way home. As the broiler preheats, whisk together a quarter-cup honey, the juice and zest from half a lime, plus a few shakes each of chili powder, ground ginger, salt and pepper. Spoon this mixture over the fish and broil until the glaze is bubbling and the fish is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Chicken thighs

Photo: Thinkstock

If you've got 10 minutes...
Remember that thighs have more flavor. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be your go-to, but boneless, skinless thighs are juicier and can cook even more quickly. Set a sauté pan over medium heat and add a few spoonfuls of butter. While it's melting, dredge the chicken in flour, then add it to the pan, cooking for 3 minutes per side. Remove the thighs, add a half cup or so of white wine or chicken stock to the pan, let it simmer for a minute and then add the chicken back to the pan for 1 more minute.
Scrambled eggs

Photo: Thinkstock

If you've got five minutes...
Have breakfast for dinner. Break eggs into a bowl and beat vigorously until frothy. While you heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, sprinkle salt and pepper on the eggs and stir in and cook one of the following combos: broken tortilla chips,a few spoonfuls of diced canned tomatoes and canned jalapeños (top with salsa or sour cream), crumbled goat cheese and pesto (finish with torn basil leaves), or sliced hot dogs (add them to the pan a minute before the eggs) and, yes, a squirt of mustard (toasted, buttered bun optional).

Next: 12 more meals you can make in 29 minutes or less