In a perfect world, we would have enough time to make elaborate dinners every night. Since we don’t live there (wouldn’t that be nice?), dinners are often microwaved, eaten out, or delivered. That’s totally fine once in a while, but because cooking your own food enables you to know exactly what you’re eating, it’s almost always the healthier option.
So what should you do if you want to form healthier eating habits, but don’t have the time, energy, or desire to spend a long time in the kitchen? Find recipes that are so easy, they basically cook themselves. Enter sheet pan dinners: dishes that can be entirely prepared on just one pan. The method lets you cook your protein, your veggie, and your starch all in the same place and at the same temperature—which means no extra saucepans and pots to clean after.
If you want to start cooking your dinners this way, there’s a pretty simple formula you can follow. Choose a protein, vegetable, and starch that will all cook to doneness at approximately the same time and temp. If you’re cooking something like chicken alongside delicate vegetables like tomatoes, green beans, or mushrooms, cutting up the chicken will help it cook faster, at a speed more in line with those veggies. Alternately you could choose to use a protein that will naturally cook a bit faster, like fish or shrimp.
On the other hand, if you’re roasting something sturdy like potatoes or squash—both of which may need a bit more time in the oven—leaving your chicken whole will allow it to cook slower, so neither your veggies nor your bird end up overdone.
If you prefer to follow a recipe and would rather not wing it, these 15 ideas will help get you started. In addition to being insanely easy, they’re also pretty high in protein and lend themselves easily to meal prep, so you can eat half of it for dinner and save the other half for tomorrow’s lunch.