Move over, slow cooker. You aren’t needed, instant pot. Why? Because I can GUARANTEE that you already have a magical kitchen tool that will ensure a tasty and healthy dinner with minimal clean up. What is this kitchen unicorn? A baking sheet. Seriously. Start with a baking sheet, cover it in either cooking spray or aluminum foil, and then the fun begins. Don’t believe me? Then try out these five family friendly sheet pan meals.
First off, let’s talk about why sheet pan meals are so fantastic. They contain a cooking mess by typically only requiring a cutting board and colander to prep ingredients. And if you cover your baking sheet with aluminum foil, clean up is a BREEZE.
Sheet pan meals are great because they take advantage of your oven, causing vegetables to taste a little bit sweeter all while you take care of whatever else you need to do. I tend to pop my sheet pan meal into the oven and unload the dishwasher from the day before, so it is empty and waiting for dirty plates once our meal is through. I can be crazy efficient without becoming stressed out and crazy.
The one key thing to remember for sheet pan meals is that if you want everything to cook evenly, you need to ensure that your food is cut into the same size. But since that is a little bit too much prep work for my liking, I stagger what I put onto the baking sheet at a time. Since proteins like meat and fish take longer to cook than vegetables, I put those ingredients onto the baking sheet and into the oven FIRST. After cooking for a bit, I then add the other ingredients to the same baking sheet. Paying attention to cooking times is definitely the secret to success when cooking a sheet pan meal.
So what are my family’s favorite sheet pan meals?
Sausage & Peppers
Scatter sausage links (poke holes in them with a fork prior to placing in oven), chunks of pepper (2 cups) and a handful of whole red grapes (both tossed in light olive oil and salt/pepper) onto baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees, turning everything after 7 minutes. After 15 minutes the sausage will be fully cooked and your peppers and grapes will have a nice char to them. I like to serve this dish over microwavable rice (I’m too scared to try to make it in the oven!).
Roasted Chicken Breasts
As most cooks know, bone in chicken breasts taste SO MUCH BETTER than the boneless ones. The only problem is that they take sooooo much longer to cook through. So for this dish, place the bone in chicken (seasoned with rosemary, lemon juice, salt/pepper, and olive oil) in the oven under the broiler for 15 minutes. Next, add one cup cubed red potatoes (coated in salt/pepper and olive oil) and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Add cubed ½ cup carrot, 1 cup of onions and 1/3 cup of fennel and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Squeeze fresh lemon and orange juice over the entire pan before serving.
Apple Infused Pork Chops
After coating in olive oil and seasoning with salt/pepper, place boneless pork shops, 1 cup apple slices, 1 cup onions, and ½ cup chopped celery onto baking sheet. Place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes. If using a rimmed baking sheet, add 1/3 cup apple cider to the baking sheet
and then bake at 400 degrees for another 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle dried cranberries onto the baking sheet for the last couple of minutes. Add crusty bread on the side and use it to soak up all of the apple flavored juices leftover in the baking sheet.
Pour ¼ cup of jarred salsa over boneless chicken breasts. Chop Vidalia onions and any colored peppers, coat in olive oil and season with salt/pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Slice chicken, mix with veggies, and serve in warm tortillas.
Marinate salmon in 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce, salt/pepper, and ¼ cup brown sugar. After 15 minutes, place onto baking sheet and cook 10 minutes under the broiler. Add 1 cup of each sliced vegetable: onion, zucchini, mushroom after tossing in olive oil and salt/pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.
I hope these dishes not only help you add to your recipe arsenal, but also help you manage your time wisely so that you can spend it on the people and things that truly matter most.
Looking for other family friendly recipes? Here are our tried and true favorites.