Dinner

Easy One Pan Meals That Get Dinner On The Table Fast

These meals are ready in under 45 minutes.

By: Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC

Considering the hectic and over-scheduled lifestyle that many of us live, it is no wonder why meal prep is not the highlight of people’s days. But while there are a slew of dinner options that involve tons of pots and pans, ingredients, and time, all of these factors are not must-haves when you are trying to get nutritious meals on your dinner table. 

Healthy eating can be quick and easy with a simple plan for one-sheet dinners combined with easy recipes. Healthy one pan meals are your new best friend if you want to get a balanced dinner on the table in under 45 minutes. 

Why One Sheet Pan Meals Work

One pan meals are a lifesaver on busy nights. Bonus? Clean-up is a breeze because they don’t involve multiple pots and pans.  

Balanced meals typically involve a protein source, a carbohydrate source, and some veggies. Sheet pan meals work by including all of these components on the sheet and having them cook all together. Some ingredients, like potatoes, take longer to cook, which is certainly taken into account. But generally speaking, sheet pan meals are the ultimate “set it and forget it” solution.  

Plus, these meals can be a solution for many pain points that people experience during meal prep time. Whether you feel like you don’t have time to cook, you are not typically comfortable making new foods, or you normally feel like your diet is lacking in the variety department, one pan meals can make all of these challenges a thing of the past. 

How To Make Healthy One Pan Meals

One pan meals can be an utterly satisfying and healthy way to get in key nutrients with very little effort. And the options for food combos are truly endless — from one-pan keto meals to one-pan vegetarian meals, the sky is really the limit when deciding what to toss on your sheet pan for mealtime. 

The key is to understand the components of a healthy meal, and then you can mix and match as you please.  

Start with a lean protein — chicken, pork, beef, or fish are excellent examples. And for those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, surprising options like an egg and chickpeas can be simple additions.  

Once your protein selection is chosen, you can add vegetables. Depending on the vegetables you choose — you may want to section off the sheet pan and put vegetables on one side and protein on the other. 

One-sheet pan meals also allow room for choosing more starchy vegetables as the carbohydrate source. Adding foods like sweet potatoes gives sheet pan dinners some substance with very little effort.  

Finally, add a bit of healthy fat and seasoning to make your meal totally crave-worthy. Drizzle everything with olive oil, sprinkle some minced garlic, and get creative with fresh herbs to add some pizzaz to your dish. 

You can also get creative with using easy one-pan dishes for any meal — have breakfast for dinner one night and serve leftovers the next morning. 

To save even more time on these dinners — cut and dice ingredients ahead of time. Meal planning and prep for the entire week can be a little daunting. Try breaking the week down into three-day increments — it makes the process a little less time-consuming and more manageable.  When doing batch cooking like this put extra sheet pans to work by doubling the recipe — save for lunch the next day or have a clean out the fridge leftover night.  

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning 

1 Pan Recipes: Common Mistakes

While prepping one-sheet recipes is a simple thing to do, there are some common caveats that you should be aware of in order to make whipping up your dish a breeze.

Trying to fit too much food on a sheet pan or baking dish that is too small is one surefire way to have a dinner that is unevenly cooked. Purchasing high-quality half-sheet pans will go a long way to making one-pan dishes as tasty as possible. These pans do not need to be expensive to be high quality — the commercial pans should be around $15-$20 each.  When used regularly over time, they will become naturally deliciously seasoned.  

In addition to overcrowding your pan, people may combine foods that do not have the same cooking time. For example, some may try to cook potatoes and asparagus on the same pan and expect both of these foods to achieve the perfect amount of doneness right at the same second — the potato is thick and starchy while the asparagus is delicate and does not require a lot of time to cook. 

Either pair foods that have a similar cook-time (like potatoes and carrots) or cook your sheet pan dishes in stages. When cooking sheet pan dishes in stages, you would cook something thicker (like potato wedges) for a certain amount of time, and then you would add the more delicate foods that do not require as much time in the oven.

Finally, people may underestimate the importance of adding fats like olive oil. Fats add richness to the dish and help the ingredients achieve a gorgeous roasted hue. Fat is also important to prevent food from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bottom line? Don’t skip the fat!

Easy One Pan Meals 

#1 Simple Roasted Vegetables

Roasted veggies make the ultimate healthy side dish, and this makes one of those one-pan meals we love to make on meal prep day. Have these roasted veggies prepped to pair with a main course meal during the busy week. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes 

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Number of Ingredients: 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis, peeled and sliced 
  • 3 bell peppers, seeded and sliced 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • Sea salt to taste 

Directions:

Step #1: Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a glass baking dish with oil. 

Step #2: Add the veggies to a large mixing bowl with the olive oil and seasoning and toss to combine. 

Step #3: Transfer the veggies to the baking dish and bake for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through.

#2 Lemon Chicken & Green Beans

There’s nothing easier than a simple chicken dinner, and this is a family-friendly healthy one-pan meal that can be adjusted to taste using your veggies and seasonings of choice. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes 

Cook Time: 18-25 minutes 

Number of Ingredients: 7

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

Step #1: Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a baking dish with oil. 

Step #2: Add the chicken to the center of the baking dish and add the green beans around the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and season with spices. 

Step #3: Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the green beans. Add the chicken back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. 

Note: Cook time will vary depending on the size of each chicken breast. 

#3 One-Skillet Beef Tacos 

Turns out, you can make tacos in just under 20 minutes, and this one-skillet beef taco recipe proves that healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes 

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Number of Ingredients: 7

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (grass-fed if possible) 
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp water 
  • For serving: avocado, shredded lettuce, salsa 

Directions:

Step #1: Start by heating a large skillet over medium heat with coconut oil. Add the ground beef and cook for 7-10 minutes or until the beef is cooked. 

Step #2: Add the taco seasoning, garlic, and water. Saute for another 2-3 minutes. 

Step #3: Serve with desired taco toppings and enjoy! 

#4 One Pan Herbed Salmon With Veggies 

This FitOn PRO recipe is quick to prep and is ready to enjoy in under 45 minutes! 

Prep Time: 15 minutes 

Cook Time: 37-40 minutes 

Number of Ingredients: 7

Ingredients:

  • ¼ butternut squash, cut into wedges
  • ½ head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaf
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ¾ lb salmon fillet, deboned
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Step #1: Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Step #2: Arrange the chopped butternut squash and cauliflower on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. 

Step #3: Meanwhile, add the basil, almonds, 1 tbsp olive oil, and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper to a food processor and process until combined. 

Step #4: After the vegetables have been cooking for 25 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and make room for the salmon fillets.

Step #5: Arrange the two pieces of salmon on the baking tray and coat with herb crust. Return to oven for another 12-15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked to your liking.

Step #6: To serve, plate up the cooked salmon and roasted vegetables. 

Bonus No-Bake Dessert Recipe

Want a yummy dessert to pair with these delicious one pan meals? This Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice Cream requires zero cook time and is totally guilt-free. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice Cream 

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • Splash of dairy-free milk of choice
  • For topping: granola, raw cacao nibs, extra drizzle of peanut butter

Directions:

Step #1: Add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until it turns into soft-serve “ice cream”.

Step #2: Serve in bowl and top with desired toppings.

Step #3: Enjoy!

Healthy Eating Does Not Have to Be Time-Consuming

If you always thought that eating healthy means being bound to your kitchen cooking and cleaning, it is time to put that behind you. Sheet pan meals can check all of the healthy meal boxes with very little effort and even less clean-up. As long as you are including a variety of foods and balancing out your dishes with healthy ingredients (like lots of veggies), sheet pan dishes can certainly find a place on your meal rotation any day of the week. 

Ready to see just how delicious healthy eating can be? Consider joining FitOn PRO for access to personalized meal plans and exclusive recipes to reach your fitness goals faster without counting calories and with foods you’ll love to eat.