The Homemade Mom: 20 Minute Meals (yes!!)

The holiday season should be spent eating and spending time with family and friends, not cooking. So, here are 5 dinners that can be made in 20-minutes or less.

Print this out and take it shopping and get to work (and time saving!)

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Monday: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dates, Manchego Cheese, and Almonds

I’m glad this week is all quick dinners because I’m running out of time every day even though it’s only Monday! And, I’m even happier I opted for a salad today because we tend to have a free-for-all eating craze every weekend. So, this salad helps to reground me at the start of the week. The greens here are Brussels sprouts. I know. Who eats those besides me? Well, they are absolutely delicious when they are raw (and cooked too, but that’s for another day). When you shave them, they add such a glorious crunch and unexpected taste to this salad. And mixing them with the sweetness of the dates, the crunch of the almonds, and the creaminess of the cheese, almost outshine how amazing the dressing is. Don’t underestimate how good this salad is. It’s a prize winning salad!

Servings: 6-8

Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: easy


Juice of 1 lemon

1 large shallot, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

One 16-ounce bag shaved Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup dates, chopped

1/4 cup manchego cheese, diced

1/4 cup almonds, chopped


1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and shallot. Let stand 5 minutes (so the acidity in the lemon juice can begin to break down the shallot). Whisk in the Dijon and honey until well combined. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season generously with salt and add pepper to taste.

2. Add the sprouts, dates, manchego, and almonds and toss to coat. Enjoy!

Chefs Note: The salad can be dressed 15 to 20 minutes in advance if you like more tender Brussels sprouts.

Adapted from: Katie Lee @

Tuesday: 20-Minute Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Salmon is my go-to fish of choice. I love grilling it, baking it, pan-frying it, eating a smoked lox version of it… you name it, I love it! So I found a fast way of making it without sacrificing taste. Winner, winner, salmon dinner! This salmon is pan fried and has a balsamic glaze drizzled across the top creating a perfect harmony of savory and sweet flavors. You can saute some veggies up in the same pan for a complete one-pan dinner or serve on top of your favorite pasta or rice.

Servings: 4

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: easy


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine (or chicken broth)

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 thyme sprig

1 cloves garlic, minced

4 (6-oz) salmon fillets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Finely minced parsley, for garnish


1. Allow salmon to rest 10 – 15 minutes at room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine balsamic vinegar, white wine, honey, dijon mustard, thyme and the garlic. Heat mixture over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer over medium-low heat until sauce has thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and pour through a fine strainer into a heatproof dish. Set aside.

3. Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon fillets and cook, without moving until salmon has nicely browned on bottom, about 3 – 4 minutes. Carefully flip salmon to opposite side and continue to cook 2 – 3 minutes longer until salmon has cooked through.

Serve warm drizzling each fillet with balsamic rosemary glaze. Garnish with finely minced parsley, if desired. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Wednesday: 20-Minute Asian Ginger Chicken

Last night, both girls woke up in the middle of the night and could not fall back asleep on their own for what seemed like hours. Needless to say, Trevor and I are both walking zombies today. So instead of ordering in, I wanted to make a super quick, healthy dinner that took no brain power. This dish is that – peel, chop, saute, eat. It’s nothing fancy or hard, but some nights, I just need it to be easy.

Servings: 4

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: easy


2 teaspoons olive oil

4 small skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups carrots, julienned

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice


1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. While the pan is heating, diced and season chicken with salt and black pepper. Add to skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes (tossing every 1-2 minutes), or until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

2. Meanwhile, place a steamer basket in a large saucepan. Add enough water to come just below the bottom of the basket. Once water boils, add asparagus and carrots to steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat. Steam for 5 – 7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Transfer vegetables to a dish.

3. To serve, stir the soy sauce and ginger into the vegetables and/or rice. Divide rice and vegetable mixture among four dinner plates; top with chicken. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Thursday: 20-Minute Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls

I recently started drinking this green tea that has a really delicious lemongrass aftertaste. Since then, I’ve become a bit obsessed with lemongrass. It’s SO GOOD! I add it to everything I can now, including this Thai rice bowl. While there are an insane amount of flavor layers in this one bowl, it’s hard to say what my favorite is (lemongrass, lemongrass, lemongrass!). Did I mention I love lemongrass? Kidding aside, this rice bowl rocks. The ground meat cuts down on the cooking time (as opposed to cooking another kind of meat) and the thinner you cut the carrots and peppers, the better the bowl will come together (I learned this after I cooked it all). I think this deserves a medium difficulty level because you have to get the timing right on a few different moving pieces. If you can juggle it, you can easily make this in 20 minutes.

Servings: 6

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: medium


Lemongrass Rice

1 cup uncooked jasmine rice

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup water

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup fresh lemongrass chopped

Thai Basil Beef

2 large carrots, cut into matchsticks

2 bell peppers, sliced

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 teaspoon honey

Juice of 1 lime plus lime wedges for serving

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce divided

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

1 pound lean ground beef

pinch of black pepper

1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce

2 cups fresh basil leaves, sliced or chopped, plus extra for serving

Toasted sesame seeds + chopped roasted peanuts for serving


1. To make the rice. Add the coconut milk and water to a medium size pot. Bring to a low boil and then add the rice, sesame oil and lemongrass. Stir to combine, then place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible. Allow the rice to cook ten minutes on low and then turn the heat off completely and let the rice sit on the stove, covered for another 15-20 minutes (don’t take any peeks inside!). After 15-20 minutes remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork and stir in 1-2 tablespoons chopped peanuts if desired. Note that rice can cook differently for everyone, this is just what works for me.

2. While the rice is cooking, make the beef. Add the carrots, peppers, green onions, honey, lime juice and 2 tablespoons soy sauce to a medium bowl. Toss well and set aside.

3. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet/cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and once hot, add the garlic and ginger. Cook 15-30 seconds, then add the beef. Season the beef with black pepper and brown all over, breaking it up as it cooks (about 5 minutes). Once the beef is browned, add 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup sweet thai chili sauce and 1 cup of fresh basil. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sauce coats the beef, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup fresh basil.

4. Divide the rice among the bowls, top with equal amounts of beef. Add the carrots + pepper on top of the beef. Garish with chopped peanuts, fresh basil and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Friday: 20-Minute Honey Garlic Butter Scallops & Orzo

I used to think foods like scallops were the kind of thing only fancy chefs could make and you’d eat in fancy restaurants. Well, it turns out I was wrong! Scallops are way nicer to make at home because you can eat them the second they’re made (which is really the best way to eat them). And, (like most things) they’re way less expensive if you make them yourself. ‘But, fancy chefs can make them better than I can’, you say? Not anymore! This recipe is easy and uses honey which basically caramelizes the scallops and OMG, they’re so so so so good. The lemony, mediterranean orzo balances out the richer scallop flavors and you’re left with the most perfect dinner in just 20-minutes.

Servings: 6

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: easy


1 pound orzo pasta

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

juice from 1 lemon

8 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 pounds large scallops

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

4 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated

1 inch fresh ginger, grated

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with the dill, lemon juice, feta, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the scallops and sear on both sides until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the honey, garlic, and ginger. Cook 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the butter and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

3. Divide the orzo among plates. Spoon the scallops and any sauce left in the pan over the orzo. Sprinkle with chives and arugula. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Julie is a stay-at-home mom of two girls and with a passion for all things food. She loves growing, cooking, and, of course, eating food! She started meal planning years ago to stay organized and eliminate food (and money!) waste and started sharing it on her own blog, Season Generously.