Hey pretty momma, I’m on vacation in sunny Florida, but I’m super excited to bring you some amazing posts in my absence. Today, I wanted to feature my friend Amy as she demonstrates an actual 20-minute meal. Can you believe it? I couldn’t either, but it’s perfect for busy moms like yourself.
Waves I’m Amy and I’m so grateful to Yvonne for giving me a chance to share here at the Dahlia Scene. I’m a natural foods chef who’s spent the last 5+ years teaching busy people just like you how to eat more delicious, healthy food regardless of their cooking skills. As a mama of a 2-year-old myself, I also know that having a kiddo takes the term busy to a whole new level, which has inspired me to think of even more creative ways to get nutritious meals on the table in record time.
Given that, nothing drives me crazier than 20-minute meals that actually take an hour to make. And that’s if you’ve already done the shopping!
I made this meal ages ago and still remember it not living up to it’s projected cooking time. Let me show you why:
You must also remember a time that your 20-minute meal took exponentially longer much to the chagrin of your whining children, hangry spouse, and you who was unsuccessfully willing the water to boil faster?
I want to help you avoid that dinner frenzy by showing you how to identify a truly 20-minute recipe! I’ve also included a few recipes throughout that look delicious and like they’d meet this criteria so that you can 1. See what they look like and 2. Make one if you’re scrambling for a quick, healthy meal sometime soon.
Sound good? Here we go.
- Look for meals that only use 7-10 ingredients: Why 7-10? Honestly, it’s a pretty arbitrary number, but time and again I find that it walks the fine line between highly-processed meals (sure you may only need chicken and a can of mushroom soup for that 2 item meal, but think how many ingredients that you may or may not prefer went into the soup itself) and overly complex things (nothing is more frustrating than buying an ingredient you’ll only use once). Don’t include olive oil or salt and pepper in the count – you’ll need them for most things worth making.
Some great examples:
- Shrimp with Green Sauce: Less than 6 ingredients and tons of flavor. Pair with a veggie and/or grain on the side for a complete meal.
- 15-Minute Cauliflower Fried Rice: 8 ingredients and only 3 steps in the instructions. I bet you could use coconut oil in a pinch here if you didn’t have sesame oil on hand.
- Grilled Balsamic Steak with Tomatoes and Arugula: 6 ingredients total (some are used a couple times). The only thing to note is that you’ll want to marinate the steak the night before, which requires a little forethought but makes the recipe even faster and more flavorful on your cooking day.
- Find recipes that don’t have detailed instructions in the ingredient list: We recipe writers are super tricky (and lazy) in that we put a lot of what you need to do directly in the ingredient list instead of listing it in the actual instructions. The result? You spend unexpected time getting ready to follow the instructions which adds on time to your meal prep.
Check it out:
- Forego the recipes altogether and just use things that you already have on hand: There is no easier way to get a quick meal on the table than to use pantry items and/or leftovers as the base for your dinner. Frugality, efficiency, and eco-friendliness for the win!
If you’re a strict recipe follower, this can be intimidating, but I assure you that it doesn’t have to be scary! Some of these may be a little more “processed” than you’d prefer but, honestly, it’s better than the takeout alternative. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Cooked pasta + frozen veggies (added in the last 3 minutes of pasta cooking) — drain and then stir together with drained canned beans + tomato sauce
- Tofu or chicken + frozen veggies + a couple Tbsp curry paste + coconut milk — bring to a simmer, stir well and let everything cook and warm through before serving. A squeeze of lime or dash of fish sauce go a long way added at the end if you have it
- Black beans (drained) + cooked brown rice + jarred salsa + avocado — extra credit if you have some fresh spinach to add at the bottom of your bowl.
Interested in more of my musings on cooking whole foods in the real world, regardless of how busy you are? I’d love it if you visited me on my website Delicious by Nature.
Amy is a natural foods chef, culinary instructor, and recipe writer. She specializes in making whole, real, unprocessed food delicious, but as a mom to a 2 year old she knows that there’s not always time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking everything from scratch. So far, she’s helped hundreds of busy people just like you find ways to fit healthy eating into their real lives and wants to help you do the same by sharing simple tips, tricks and recipes she’s learned along the way!