The thought of cooking a full dinner after a day at work is…less than appealing. But there’s a simple solution to your dilemma—and it doesn’t involve the drive-thru. Whip up a quick one-pan meal and you can have a nutritious dinner ready in a flash, without all of the dish-washing and cleanup.
“One-pan meals are a great way to get a healthy, balanced meal without a ton of work!” says Malorie Blake, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., C.L.T. Combine your ingredients and pop your pan or baking sheet into the oven or onto the stovetop and you’re good to go!
For a nutritionist-approved one-pan meal, combine a quality protein source (like chicken, fish, eggs, or beans) with a wholesome carb source (like starchy veggies, potatoes, or whole grains) and plenty of veggies. Cooking or topping your meal with healthy fats (like olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, or seeds) will boost flavor and your absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamins A, E, D, and K, according to Lisa Stollman, M.A., R.D.N., C.D.E., C.D.N. And experimenting with a variety of different veggies, sauces, herbs, and spices can help keep these simple meals flavorful and interesting, Blake adds.
Try one of these healthy one-pan recipes the next time you’re crunched for cooking time (or just don’t feel like going all out Julia Child-mode.)
1. Tofu With Mushrooms And Broccoli
A simple stir-fry is an easy way to pack protein, produce, and flavor into a meal. Stollman loves using shiitake or Portobello mushrooms in her stir-fries, aiming for a meal that’s three-quarters veggies and one-quarter protein. With this Feasting At Home recipe, you’ll make the most of the nutrients (like vitamins and antioxidants) you get from the vegetables.
The whole thing takes about 20 minutes flat. Just add a sprinkle of chopped cashews or peanuts into the mix for extra crunch. Plus, carnivores can easily swap thinly-sliced chicken breast for tofu.
2. Salmon, Red Cabbage, And Potato
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grab a baking dish to make this flavor-packed salmon dinner by Martha Stewart. “The cabbage provides tons of nutrition, including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and salmon is my favorite protein of all time,” says Brooke Alpert, R.D., who makes this delish dinner all the time. Plus, the healthy fats in salmon support everything from skin and heart health to mood, she adds.
Not a fan of cabbage? You can swap just about any veggie into this recipe, says Blake. Toss your veggies of choice (like Brussels sprouts or asparagus) with a drizzle of avocado oil, salt, and pepper before adding them to your baking dish, she recommends.
3. Lemon Chicken With Sweet Potatoes And Kale
Back-to-basics doesn’t have to mean boring. To make one of Alpert’s go-to weeknight meals, all you need for this recipe is a quartered chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Massage chopped kale with a bit of olive oil, toss with cubed sweet potatoes, and spread onto a baking sheet. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon, and add to the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees, and serve. “This dish is super quick and provides great protein and tons of flavorful fiber,” says Alpert.
4. Burrito Bowl
With this recipe, you’ll never crave Chipotle again, especially since this healthy version contains protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin C. First, fire up your stove top. Then, sauté chopped red bell peppers and onions, says Blake. Add your lean protein of choice, like ground turkey or beef. From there, add corn, green chilies, salsa, beans, and taco seasoning. (If you want to, add some brown rice and vegetable stock to the action). Top your burrito bowl with Greek yogurt, cilantro, green onions, and/or sliced avocado.
5. One-Pot Roast Chicken
Hosting a dinner party but trying to avoid endless mess and cleanup? This one-pot chicken recipe from Alice Waters’ In The Green Kitchen feels super fancy and is complete with potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, squash, turnips, and a little butter. It’s basically roasted-veggie heaven, and no one will suspect just how simple it was to make!
“High in fiber and protein, this is a perfect meal for anyone focusing on weight-loss and wellness who still wants the satisfaction of a rich-flavored meal,” says Amy Shapiro, R.D., founder of Real Nutrition NYC. (Pro-tip: Shapiro recommends removing the chicken’s skin to cut back on saturated fat.)
In the mood for healthy comfort food? Shapiro loves this pumpkin quinoa chili recipe from Super Healthy Kids. Quinoa, pumpkin, beans, and loads of spices come together for a unique, low-calorie twist on the often-indulgent meal. “It is loaded with protein, fiber, iron, and B vitamins,” Shapiro says. Score!
7. Pesto Spaghetti Squash
This easy-peasy recipe from Sweet C’s Designs is the perfect veggie-based solution for pasta cravings. Spaghetti squash, olive oil, garlic, pesto, and Parmesan cheese make for a satisfying, healthy swap. “This dish is loaded with healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber, is low-calorie, and guaranteed to be sweet, filling, and delicious—with minimal clean up!” says Shapiro.