Cookbook Review: Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals

jamie oliver review

By Kylie Archer

Before I begin, let me be honest. There are two types of people in the world. Those who love Jamie Oliver and those who despise him. Personally I love him. Wholeheartedly.

However, I don’t wholeheartedly love this cookbook. I also don’t wholeheartedly love the TV show of the same name. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not falling out of love with Jamie, I just feel slightly let down by this book.

I find it difficult to read. Each recipe reads less like a recipe and more like a schedule. If you want to do only one section eg stuffed Cypriot chicken but don’t want to do the pan fried asparagus and vine tomatoes, cabbage salad, st clements drink and the vanilla icecream float then the recipe is a bit of a jigsaw. Plus it will probably still take the half hour, because it is in doing all the bits together that you produce the most exciting meal and that you economise best on time.

Some of the ingredients are difficult to source. Part of the benefit of living in the UK when we were there, was the sheer volume of supermarkets. Within 2kms of my flat in Hampstead there was a Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Waitrose and a Budgens. So if one didn’t have the frozen mango chunks you needed for the frozen mango yoghurt….you traipsed somewhere else (quickly and on efficient public transport…but I digress). Some things like watercress are hard enough to find here, let alone prewashed and trimmed…and those frozen mango chunks? I’ve never seen them here.

I’ve made the Broccoli Orecchiette, the Mustard Chicken and also the Cauliflower Macaroni – they were yummy, they were done in 30-ish minutes and they did look just as good as Jamie’s rendition, so there isn’t any flaw in the book, or the recipes. Also there are 50 full meals in the book, so if you did one per week (except at Christmas and Easter) you’d have an interesting full meal once a week. I would have to skip the Liver and Bacon though, even when it is cooked by Jamie…

I love the concept and you can actually get the meals done in 30 minutes, but they are 30 intense, concentrated minutes. Not thirty minutes with a toddler and a newborn! If you’ve got someone to mind the kids, knock yourself out.

Having said that, there are over 5 post-it notes of recipes that I want to cook, so if anyone wants to mind my kids so I can have some time alone with Jamie…just drop me a note!

 6/10 – Great idea, good solid recipes.

Buy the book here.

What do you think?  Do you love or not-so-love Jamie Oliver?  Do you have all his cookbooks? Do you agree with Kylie’s review? How would you rate them?


About our Kylie:

I’m a mother of two, educational designer, and self-confessed cookbookaholic. My husband had to build an ikea bookshelf just to house all of my cookbooks.

I make my own cheese, pasta, jam and icecream. I haven’t yet MamaBaked, but would love to start a group in my area. In the meantime, I’m trying to perfect some “big batch” recipes of my own and cooking vicariously through MamaBake’s Facebook page.


  1. We were given this book and the 15 minute meals book as Christmas gifts. It’s caused a massive rift in our house at dinner time. Mostly because my I say ‘what would you like for dinner’ and my partner immediately grabs ‘the Jaime’ to consult. Meanwhile I curse Jaime for all the vile four letter words I know, and then some. I HATE these books. The food is great, but when I cook a 15 or 30 minute meal, I don’t like feeling like I’ve run a marathon afterwards. If I thought I’d get away with it, I’d burn them!

  2. I’ve got the 30 minute cookbook, and enjoyed reading it. I’ve only cooked the cauliflower macaroni (a hit in my veggie-averse house), but haven’t been tempted to try again. I love watching Jamie on tv, but really don’t enjoy his cookbooks, and probably won’t buy one again.

  3. I bought this book for my husband because he is usually inspired (once or twice a year tops) to cook by Jamie’s other books. I didn’t realise that a lot of the recipes are wheat based (I am allergic to wheat) and my husband who isn’t, doesn’t like loading up on pasta and bread. Even if we didn’t want to cook the pasta for example and something else in the “recipe” on the same page, we have had so much trouble deciphering the cryptic manner in which it is structured that we have thrown the book on the “sell on ebay” pile in our office. As for the 15-minute book, forget it, I’d rather open a can of beans.

  4. I agree with you, even on the bit about the ease of getting ingredients while living in the UK. Oh what I wouldn’t give for efficient public transport and close supermarkets stocked with decent food! (Watercress? It’s so English!) I got the 30 minute meals from my husband for Christmas and while I like it and have made a few things, it always takes waaaay longer than 30 minutes. Even if you do have all that stuff ready to go, you still need to do some prep work for some ingredients (not everyone has some whiz bang garlic crusher that also peels garlic for you) and what about all the washing up and stuff afterwards? It might be fast cooking but it’s not quick clean up. And as you say, with a toddler wanting your attention every five minutes, not a chance of sticking to 30 minutes. I like Jamie and I like his books, but only for the recipes themselves, not for all the other bits that go along with them.

Speak Your Mind

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!