Easy 3-Course Home-Cooked Meal Ideas To Surprise Your Loved Ones

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easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipes appetisers mains desserts takikomi gohan smoked duck soba salad strawberry galettes
(Credit: Chocolat Et Basil, Lace Zhang, Chocolat Et Basil)

There’s no need to wait for a special occasion to express your love for family and friends. But if saying ‘I love you’ is just too cheesy, why not show your appreciation and affection through your actions! A great way to convey your feelings is by preparing something from your heart — such as a home-cooked meal. Can’t cook to save your life? Don’t sweat it, simply follow these easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipes to whip up a feast that’s bound to warm the hearts of the ones you love. We’ve prepared a list of recipes for appetisers, mains and desserts so you can customise the menu according to your preference! 

Appetisers

1. Smoked duck soba salad

easy 3-course home-cooked meal smoked duck soba sald appetiser
(Credit: Lace Zhang)

The summer heat is in full blast this time of the year and nothing can be better than starting your 3-course home-cooked meal with an easy and refreshing cold noodle salad! Created by food blogger Lace Zhang, who is also the author of Three Dishes, One Soup, this smoked duck soba salad can be served in smaller portions as appetisers so your loved ones still have room for the next two dishes. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 pax

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 150g dried somen noodles or 2 servings fresh soba noodles
  • 2 slabs smoked duck breast
  • Cucumber slices or any fresh vegetables 
  • 10 to 12 edamame pods
  • Spring onions, to garnish

Ponzu dressing

  • 45ml light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 45ml yuzu juice (or mix equal parts lemon and lime juice)
  • 1 tbsp light sesame oil (optional)

Recipe Instructions: 

  1. For the ponzu dressing, simply mix all ingredients to combine and set aside 
  2. The smoked duck breast (available on yocornfoodsingapore) comes seasoned and ready to eat. Simply warm it up in a dry pan over medium-low heat. Slice the meat and set aside. 
  3. Cook either Kirei Showa somen noodles or J-Basket Japanese soba noodles (both available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) with the edamame beans (available on yocornfoodsingapore) for about 5 minutes. Quickly rinse the noodles under running water and place them in an ice bath to arrest cooking. 
  4. While waiting for the noodles to cool down, slice the spring onion and cucumber (or your choice of fresh vegetables). 
  5. To serve, pile some noodles on the serving plate. Then, add vegetables, edamame and arrange the smoked duck breast slices around the noodles. Drizzle some of the ponzu sauce and garnish with spring onions. 

2. Pumpkin and Beetroot Salad with Feta Cheese

easy 3-course home-cooked meal pumpkin and beetroot salad feta cheese appetiser
(Credit: The HedgeHog Knows)

Aim for your appetisers to strike a good balance between being tasty and nutritious. This vibrant pumpkin and beetroot salad with feta cheese, created by The Hedgehog Knows, hits the nail on the head! It stars pumpkin which is a rich source of heart-healthy nutrients and beetroot which helps lower blood pressure. Add this easy wholesome appetiser to your 3-course home-cooked meal lineup to satisfy even the pickiest eater in the family! 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 pax

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 60g salad vegetables
  • 300g pumpkin, sliced
  • 120g beetroot, sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 90g feta cheese, cubed
  • 50g pecans

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Steam the organic pumpkin (available on QQMart) slices until soft 
  2. Meanwhile, wash the organic beetroot, cherry tomato (both available on QQMart) and salad vegetables thoroughly as they will be consumed raw 
  3. When the pumpkin is ready, combine it with the salad vegetables, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and pecan nuts (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store),  together in a large bowl. Toss well and enjoy!

Mains

1. Spicy grilled salmon (Ikan Bakar style)

easy 3-course home-cooked meal mains spicy grilled salmon ikan bakar
(Credit: Global Gastronaut)

The main dish is undoubtedly the star of any easy 3-course home-cooked meal and this spicy grilled salmon will not disappoint — especially if you’re cooking for a special someone who loves fiery food! This spicy grilled salmon recipe is inspired by the classic Indonesian Ikan Bakar (roasted fish) dish, where the seafood is traditionally wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over coals. Food blogger and editor Global Gastronaut has put a modern twist to this dish, making it accessible for all Singaporeans — as long as you own an oven in your kitchen! 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1 pax

Recipe Ingredients: 

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 packet of Assam sauce
  • Torch ginger flower (optional, for garnish)
  • Half a lime

Rempah (spice paste)

  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli (optional)
  • 4 shallots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-inch piece of turmeric
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 1 tsp belachan
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tbsp oil of your choice (avoid olive oil which has a low smoking point)

Recipe Instructions: 

  1. Start by preparing the rempah. Slice the lemongrass (available on GrocerKing Official Store) into 2cm pieces. Place them in a blender along with the shallots, garlic, ginger turmeric, dried shrimp, sambal belachan (available on Fresh Catch Seafood Bidding Official Store) and water. The bird’s eye chilli is optional but add it in if you like it spicy. The water should help to ease the blending. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and add the rempah. It will sizzle and release a beautiful aroma! Stir continuously so that it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Once the oil begins to separate, you know that the rempah is ready! At this point add the Assam sauce (available on Lian Huat Seafood). 
  4. Stir until well-combined and allow the rempah to dry a little
  5. Lay out an aluminium foil (available on ORIENT CO) followed by a piece of banana leaf
  6. Place some rempah on the leaf and lay the salmon fillet (available on Lian Huat Seafood) over it. Coat the salmon with even more rempah. Then, fold the leaf to cover the salmon and wrap everything securely with the aluminium foil. 
  7. Allow the salmon to marinate for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius. 
  8. Place the fish on a tray and bake for 15 minutes 
  9. At the 15 minute mark, take out the fish and open up the foil and leaf. Turn off the oven heat. 
  10. Slide the unwrapped salmon into the oven for another 5 minutes. This allows the moisture and trapped steam to evaporate. 
  11. Serve and get ready to dig in!

2. Takikomi Gohan (Japanese mixed rice)

easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipe mains takikomi gohan
(Credit: Chocolat Et Basil)

The time is ticking and you’re still at a loss for dish ideas to surprise your loved ones with. Don’t panic, we’ve got your back with this simple and fuss-free Takikomi Gohan recipe created by Chocolat Et Basil! No easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipe list is complete without a one-pot rice cooker recipe. Most one-pot rice cooker recipes involve laying all the raw ingredients over some uncooked rice in the rice cooker. To bring out the robust flavours of your ingredients, this recipe requires you to fry some ingredients beforehand. Despite the additional steps, this Takikomi Gohan is still easy to master and you’ll be guaranteed a hearty feast when the timer rings!

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 pax

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Kirei Daichi calrose pearl rice
  • 500-600ml dashi/vegetable/chicken stock
  • 300g boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 0.5 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced + 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100g maitake mushrooms (or shimeji or shiitake mushrooms)
  • 30g ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • Knob of butter
  • Sesame oil, for frying
  • Scallion, sliced, to serve
  • Hamaotome Iwashi furikake, to serve

Ginger scallion sauce

  • Handful of scallions, sliced thinly
  • 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Salt 
  • Chicken seasoning powder
  • Canola oil (or any neutral oil with a high smoking point)

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Rinse the Kirei Daichi calrose pearl rice (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) well, then soak it in water for at least 30 minutes
  2. While the rice soaks, cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch chunks. Combine the chicken with Takara Scb nigori sake (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store), soy sauce, fish sauce, minced garlic, coriander, cornflour (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store), sugar, sesame oil and white pepper. Mix well and marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Trim the base of the organic maitake mushrooms (available on QualityLiving) but avoid washing them as they might lose flavour. Cut them into smaller chunks and set aside. If you’re using dried shiitake mushrooms, reserve the soaking liquid. Add extra Sankou Katsuo furi dashi (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) to the soaking liquid to make up 550ml and use this broth to cook the rice. 
  4. Drain the rice and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Once it’s well-drained, heat a wide pan over medium-high heat. Add the knob of butter, followed by the rice, cloves of whole garlic, ginger slices and the maitake mushrooms. Fry them for a couple of minutes until the rice is slightly browned. Drizzle one to two tablespoons of sesame oil into the pan and toss to coat. 
  5. Take the rice off the heat and transfer it into the rice cooker. Pour the broth into the cooker. The broth will consist of dashi, vegetable or chicken stock if you chose to use the maitake mushrooms in step three. However, if you use dried shiitake mushrooms, the broth will be made up of the soaking liquid and dashi. 
  6. Give the pan a quick wipe or rinse, then place it back on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a little sesame oil followed by the marinated chicken skin side down. Brown the skin for a few minutes, give the chicken a quick stir in the pan and pour everything on top of the rice. 
  7. Without stirring or mixing, start cooking the rice. Cook for an extra 10 minutes if your rice cooker comes only with the regular rice setting. 
  8. While the rice is cooking, start making the ginger scallion sauce. Blend the sliced ginger with one to two tablespoons of water until it’s finely minced but not mushy. Alternatively, you can grate it. Place the minced ginger and sliced scallions into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and mix well. It’s alright to go a little heavier on the salt as it will mellow down once the oil is added. Add about 2 teaspoons of chicken seasoning powder and mix well. Heat some oil over medium heat until it starts to smoke. Pour the hot oil into the bowl — it should sizzle. Mix well. 
  9. When the rice is done, fluff it up with a rice paddle and serve hot with some sliced scallions and the Hamaotome Iwashi sardine sprinkles Japanese furikake (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store)

Pro Tip: To create slightly wetter and stickier rice texture, keep to the 600ml of broth as stated in the recipe. However, if you like your rice drier, use 500ml of broth instead. Additionally, if you use dashi as broth, mix in one tablespoon of soy sauce for more flavour. 

3. Japanese-style honey sake pork ribs with asparagus

easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipe ideas japanese-style honey sake pork ribs asparagus air fryer
(Credit: The Hedgehog Knows)

While you may not be taking your date out to a Michelin restaurant, you can provide a similar dining experience with this luxurious-tasting Japanese-style honey sake pork ribs with asparagus recipe courtesy of The Hedgehog Knows! This yummy feast is prepared using an air fryer — you can’t tell, can you? Check out these easy air fryer recipes for more 3-course home-cooked meal inspiration!

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 pax

Recipe Ingredients:

Ribs

  • 500g pork loin prime ribs
  • 50g dark sauce
  • 35g sake
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 20g ginger, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Asparagus

  • 200g asparagus
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper and salt, to taste

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Remove membranes from ribs for a fall-off-the-bone tenderness. If you use the Fresh Indonesia pork loin prime ribs (available on QQMart), then the membranes have already been removed.
  2. Marinate the ribs by mixing with dark sauce, premium Japanese Sake (available on QQMart), honey, ginger and garlic together. Cover with cling wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours. 
  3. Once the marination is completed, preheat the air fryer at 190 degrees Celsius for five minutes
  4. Then, place the ribs in a baking pan and cook in the air fryer at 190 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Flip the ribs and continue cooking for another five minutes. 
  5. While the ribs are being cooked, trim the base of the organic asparagus (available on QQMart) and brush them with the Royal Miller Extra Virgin Olive Oil (available on Lim Siang Huat Your Groceries Store). Add pepper and salt to taste. 
  6. Once the ribs are done cooking, take them out and place the asparagus into the air fryer. Cook them at 190 degrees Celsius for five minutes. Toss and continue cooking for another five minutes. 
  7. Serve the ribs and asparagus with some Japanese rice 

4. Steamed herbal chicken

easy 3-course home-cooked meal steamed herbal chicken nutritious
(Credit: The Hedgehog Knows)

Think your loved ones need a scrumptious pick-me-up? Treat them to this steamed herbal chicken as part of your easy 3-course home-cooked surprise meal! The Hedgehog Knows came up with this nutritional recipe which allows you to tap on the many health benefits of various Chinese herbs. By using dang gui, red dates and wolfberries, this mouthwatering dish can help to alleviate period pains, increase blood production, relieve eye strain and give your body a boost of vitamin B, C, E and P!

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2 pax

Recipe Ingredients:

Herbs

  • 140g black fungus
  • 50g red dates, halved and no seeds
  • 40g ginger, sliced
  • 5g dang gui, sliced
  • 2 tsp wolfberries
  • 200g water

Chicken

  • 2 tbsp sake or shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 600g chicken

Recipe Instructions: 

  1. Soak the black fungus (available on Hotpot King Official Store), Natural Brand Xinjiang red dates (available on Natural Brand Trading Official Store), ginger, dang gui in a large bowl. Do not soak the wolfberries.
  2. Marinate the fresh Anxin chicken (available on QQMart) with the sake or shaoxing wine as well as Mili Oyster Sauce (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) and soy sauce. Leave it in the fridge for at least two hours. 
  3. Once the chicken has been marinated, place the black fungus in a large flat metal dish. Lay the chicken on top of it. Then, spread the herbs (including the wolfberries) on top of the chicken. 
  4. Steam the chicken over medium-high fire for 45 minutes
  5. Enjoy this healing dish with some rice! 

Desserts:

1. Almond honey granola bars

easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipes desserts almond honey granola bars
(Credit: At Home With Simone)

Even if your loved ones claim they’re bursting from all that feasting there’s always room for desserts! They’ll surely not be able to stop munching on these nutty almond honey granola bars created by At Home With Simone, which serves as a yummy change in flavour and texture from the recipes above. You can even premake these dessert bars ahead of time for your easy 3-course home-cooked meal surprise. They can be stored in the fridge for up to a week! 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: Bake 15 minutes, refrigerate 2 to 4 hours
Servings: 10 – 12 bars, depending on cut size

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 50g butter
  • 30g fine brown sugar
  • 120g honey or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • 200g old fashioned rolled oats
  • 50g dried blueberries
  • 40g sliced dried pitted prunes
  • 90g chopped almonds
  • 10g almond powder
  • 20g pumpkin seeds

Recipe Instructions:

  1. In a large baking tray, evenly spread out Quaker rolled oats, chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds (all available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) and bake at 180 degree Celsius for 15 minutes until slightly golden
  2. In a small pot, melt butter, combine with sugar, Peacock maple syrup (available on SSG.COM, Korean #1 Online Shop), vanilla essence, lemon zest and salt. Once the sugar dissolves, remove the pot from heat. 
  3. Line an 8×8 inch baking tray with aluminium foil
  4. Combine melted butter sugar mixture with toasted oats, almond powder (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store), chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds. Once cooled, add dried pitted prunes and dried blueberries (both available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store).
  5. After combining them, brush foil with a thin layer of butter. Spread the granola mix evenly onto the lined baking tray with a spatula and fill the entire surface. Repeat this step and layer over the mix until it’s firm and even. 
  6. Refrigerate for two to four hours, then remove the slab from the foil. Cut it into rectangular pieces or whichever shape you like. Store them in the fridge. 

2. Mango blueberry coconut pudding

mango blueberry coconut pudding easy desserts home-cooked
(Credit: At Home With Simone)

Who doesn’t love a good mango pudding? If you’re cooking for someone with a sweet tooth, this easy mango blueberry coconut pudding by At Home With Simone needs a spot in your 3-course home-cooked meal menu! But remember to prepare this dessert at least one day in advance of your surprise feast or the pudding will not set! 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes and cool in fridge overnight
Servings: 4 cups

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 200g mango pudding powder
  • 600ml water
  • ½ cup dried blueberries
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • ½ tbsp lemon zest
  • ¾ cup chilled creamy coconut milk

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Mix Redman mango pudding premix powder (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) in 600ml hot water (70-80 degree Celsius)
  2. Let the mixture chill overnight
  3. Prepare the blueberry compote by blending the dried blueberries (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) in a blender. Add a tablespoon of water to help aid the blending. 
  4. Transfer the blended blueberries to a small pot and cook on low heat. Add the brown sugar and lemon zest, then simmer gently and turn off the heat once the zest has reduced and the sugar has dissolved. 
  5. Allow the blueberry compote to cook. Once it has cooled, use a spoon to gently scoop and lay over the set mango pudding. 
  6. Top the pudding with chilled coconut milk and garnish with fruits of your choice, such as freshly chopped sweet mangoes! 

3. Mini strawberry galettes 

easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipe desserts mini strawberry galettes pastry bake
(Credit: Chocolat Et Basil)

Tart baking can be more challenging than normal cooking — think uneven oven heat, tough crust and curdled filling. Unless you’re a professional baker, we suggest to avoid risking a tart disaster and instead, try this forgiving mini strawberry galette recipe by Chocolat Et Basil! This recipe is perfect for our list of easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipes as it does not require any particular equipment or bakeware! 

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 mini galettes or 1 big galette

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (113g) salted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 450g strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup Kondo Japanese Honey Factory honey salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • ¼ tsp salt (only if using regular honey)
  • Sugar, to sprinkle

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Using the food processor bowl, combine the all-purpose flour (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) and sugar until well mixed. Add the butter and pulse until everything is evenly incorporated and has a coarse texture. It’s ok if you notice pea-sized lumps. The steps are the same if you’re doing this by hand. Add in the cubed butter and use a fork to press and blend it into the flour and sugar mix. 
  2. While the processor is running, drizzle in the water one tablespoon at a time. The dough should not be too wet, so observe and stop when everything starts to come together (it should still be a little crumbly at this point). Take the dough out and form it into an even, flat disk. Wrap it with a cling wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes. The dough can be refrigerated or frozen for up to three days. 
  3. Once the dough has chilled thoroughly, preheat the oven to 210 degree Celsius. Line the baking pan with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, combine the sliced strawberries (available on GrocerKing Official Store) with the Kondo Japanese Honey Factory honey salt (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store), lemon juice and vanilla. If you’re using regular honey, add ¼ teaspoon of salt. Mix well and let it sit for about five minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolk and milk for your egg wash. Set aside. 
  5. Take out your dough from the fridge. Use a rolling pin to gently roll it out onto a floured surface. You want it to be about 3 to 4 cm thick. Divide the dough into four pieces if you’re making mini galettes. Piece back together any cracks that may form. Carefully transfer the dough onto your pan by rolling the dough onto the rolling pin and gently lifting it up. 
  6. Strain the strawberries and reserve all of the honey mixture. Mound the strawberries in the centre of the dough, spreading them out evenly and leaving a one-inch border all around. Fold the dough over the strawberries around the edge, layering and crimping to seal. Press any cracks together as needed. 
  7. Brush egg wash onto the dough around the edges and sprinkle the edges with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, then drizzle half of the reserved honey mixture over the strawberries. Return the galettes to the oven and bake for another five minutes or so until the edges are crisp and golden. 
  8. Let the galette cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before serving. Drizzle more of the honey mixture and dig in!

Unleash the Masterchef in you 

Other than these easy 3-course home-cooked meal recipes, you can also come up with your own menu according to different palates! Consider making one of these Chinese soup recipes which will definitely impress your grandparents or try your hands at these simple K-drama inspired Korean recipes if you’re cooking for a K-drama fanatic! Don’t leave your furry pals out of the feast — prepare some delicious treats for them with these dog and cat food recipes for them too.


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A full-time writer and a part-time cat lover, Iris takes interest in all furry friends. When she's not scrolling through her long feed of cat images on Instagram, she enjoys keeping up to date with the latest beauty and fashion trends.