Weeknight Cooking

Make One Pot (Or Sheet Pan!) Dinners When You Don't Want To Fuss With Sides

September 18, 2017

When I was growing up, my mom made dinner almost every night. And I mean full dinner: protein, salad, vegetable, carbohydrate, and sometimes dessert. I know: I’m incredibly (incredibly!) lucky. Flash forward to today, where I struggle to cobble together a dinner/lunch-tomorrow meal in a postage-stamp-sized apartment (sans kitchen table) at 8 pm.

I love cooking, but limited time and energy usually mean I only make one recipe. Sometimes I’ll boil rice or pasta to bulk up my meal, but that means more pots to clean. The alternative is a side dish dinner. Sure, I’m full after eating a bowl of garlic-y, delicious tahini broccoli, but I’m not satisfied.

Which is why I jump on making recipes that do it all: dinners that pack protein with vegetables or pasta or grains into one bowl (or pot or sheet pan). Not only is it less clean-up, but I don’t get bored after my fifth bite. If you, too, want a meal with built-in sides, here are 26 recipes you’ll love. They’re not mom’s, but they actually feel like dinner.





How do you add variety to your dinners? Do you have staples at the ready in the freezer? Batch cook on weekends? Let us know in the comments!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


judy September 21, 2017
Looking at these wonderful dinners, I just realized that this is what I did for dinner tonight. I dug out a turkey thigh still in the freezer from last Christmas holiday season! Knew it was time to do something with it. Let it thaw in the fridge, still not knowing what to do two days later. As I looked around my pantry and fridge, I slowly thought about what I had. I made a marinade of oil and poultry seasoning. I had a few potatoes and carrots. cut them into chunks, tossed them in the marinade. Put them on the bottom of the wonderful new casserole ceramic dish that I recently bought--a longish thin oval with a nice domed lid. rubbed the spice blend into the turkey thigh placed it on top of the veggies. Roasted away for about 45 minutes. Made a side of broccoli in the microwave. Dinner! Delish. And almost no effort. And the clean-up? This ceramic dish was a breeze, even after sitting for a couple of hours. And enough left over for tomorrow night! I don't use foil very often. WE home cooks do Chopped! every night with whatever we have on hand.
BerryBaby September 19, 2017
Last night I made a beef stew in the oven. I use my Corning casserole dish, with lid, it's from 1980 and does a fabulous job. I have two Dutch ovens, but this works very well and doesn't weigh a ton.
I do brown the meat before putting it in the casserole. Meat only for and hour, then add veggies for another hour or so.
It was great!
Liz September 18, 2017
My family, gods luv 'em, always refer to the side dish as a 'sighed'. It refers to the moment when I realise that we REALLY should have some sort of green (red...yellow..,) on the plate to balance the vitamin intake. Such is the life of the carnivore.
Stephanie B. September 18, 2017
Lol the banner that appears on the thumbnail for this article says "vegetarian cooking" but the pic is of roasted chicken.
Stephanie B. September 18, 2017
Fair point! The baked coconut kale and tofu is a weeknight-friendly winner.