April 14

Sheet Pan Meals: Quick and Easy!

Meals

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Today we had the most amazing meal! And my favorite part? No cleanup! Now this wasn't exactly a sheet pan meal, but it could have been, easily.

sheet pans

We found a great deal on a ham at our local grocery store: an eight pound, bone-in, Artisan ham for less than $4.00! We should have bought two!

Now we have a Traeger grill. I think it smokes and grills your food. I don't even know how to turn the thing on, but my husband and son love it. (Note: this is not a sponsored post; we just love our grill!)

So the grill is nice and big - that was one thing I wanted - and before time to start cooking, I took my sheet pan out to see how it would fit. Perfect! We had an eight pound ham, a sheet pan with green beans and bacon, and two foil packets of potatoes (white and sweet) on there with plenty of room.

An hour later, dinner was done. It was delicious, and all I had to do was put the ham away and throw away the foil. I always line my sheet pans with foil so there's no clean-up.

What is a Sheet Pan Meal?

Since I didn't cook a traditional sheet pan meal, I guess I should tell you what they are. Basically, you cook an entire meal on a foil lined sheet pan in the oven. If you look it up on Pinterest, that's what they are called. I guess there is a difference between a cookie sheet and a sheet pan - the cookie sheet doesn't have sides and the sheet pan does - but we've always used sheet pans for everything, even cookies.

So what you do is come up with a few ingredients that will make a meal, go together well, and be able to cook at the same time and temperature. (My oven automatically turns on to 350° and that's pretty much what I use for everything, unless I'm following a recipe.) This is where Pinterest will come in handy, because when you first get started, trying to put things together can be hard, especially if they all have to cook on one pan.

sheet pan nachos

Nachos!

Sheet pan meals are the ultimate set it and forget it meal - great for a busy day or when you just don't feel like cooking.

One of My Favorites

We seem to eat a lot of chicken in our family, just as I'm sure yours does. My husband prefers chicken thighs and refuses to eat chicken breast; he says he "can't swallow it". We've been married almost 40 years and now he can't swallow chicken breast, which is my favorite part of the chicken.

So here's what I do: I get both. I cut the breasts into small chunks or sometimes I butterfly them (except I cut all the way through) and then flatten them so they're nice and thin. The key to juicy chicken breast is to coat both sides in oil before baking.

I put the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet, add a little oil to the thighs (boneless skinless or not), add some potatoes in small chunks, and then a vegetable of your choice. Yellow Yukon potatoes work especially well, and carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower work as vegetables. You can also do asparagus or green beans, but add them about halfway or more through cooking. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic. The juices from the chicken (OK, the thighs) make everything taste so good!

Bake at 400° for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is done. There you go! Dinner is done and cleanup is as easy as throwing the foil away!

By the way, you can pre-package all of these ingredients with some oil and seasonings and either freeze or store in the fridge for use later in the week. Sheet pan meals are easy peasy!

Plan Ahead

Here's an idea that you can put to use fairly easily and it will save you time all week long. Take a look at my Pinterest board or Pinterest in general and find some sheet pan meals that sound appealing to you. If you find some good deals, buy extra and plan to freeze some. And don't forget to buy gallon sized freezer bags while you're at the store!

Once you get home, put the meat in the fridge and keep the veggies out. If you have your meal plan in front of you, that helps too. These really aren't the kinds of meals that need recipes, all you need is a general list of ingredients. Note: I made a planning sheet for you if you decide to do this. It will make it even easier! It's in the Library. Need the password? Just sign up below.

freezer meals

Start by chopping all of your vegetables. Make sure you check each one; maybe you need to chop enough onions or garlic for more than one. You can buy prepackaged chopped garlic or even peeled garlic cloves, but we've tried them and they just don't have the taste of fresh garlic. Of course you could also use garlic powder.

Get a Sharpie and label each of your freezer bags with the name of the dish. Add the appropriate vegetables to each one. Now get out your meat and cut up, chop, and divide into each bag. Finish each with the seasonings or oil they need and you are done. This will take you about an hour, tops. 

You can put some in the freezer for another day and save some in the fridge for later that week. 400° and about half an hour seems common for most of them, but be sure to check the recipe to be sure. And a digital meat thermometer is a great idea! We use ours all the time!

More Meal Ideas

Your imagination is the only limit to the kinds of sheet pan meals that you can make. To get you started, I've tried to come up with a few:

  • Polish sausage or brats, cut in chunks, with shrimp, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. Serve over rice.
  • Polish sausage or brats, cut in chunks, with potatoes, onions, and broccoli.
  • Chicken, cut into small pieces, with any bag of mixed vegetables. Choose the larger sized veggies like broccoli and cauliflower over the diced ones. I love Herbes de Provence with this, but Italian seasoning would work just as well.
  • Pork chops, potatoes, and green beans. Add the green beans after about 10-15 minutes and be sure to coat everything with a little bit of oil.
  • Chicken or pork chops with a mixture of butternut squash and cauliflower. About 5 minutes before they are done, sprinkle the vegetables with cheese. We like Gouda or Gruyere, but any cheese you like will do.
  • Chicken, potatoes, and brussels sprouts. Add some balsamic vinegar to the chicken and brussels sprouts. Yum!
chicken in foil

A Few More Ideas

Sheet pan meals aren't just for the oven. Depending on the kind of grill you have, you can cook them there too. If you don't want to use a sheet pan, make a foil packet. 

Lay down a sheet of foil big enough to hold your food with some extra at all four edges. Spray it with cooking spray. Add your food and seasonings and then put a second sheet of foil on top of everything. Putting the top and bottom edges together, make a fold and then a second one. This is neater and more likely to create a seal than just bunching it together. That way, if you want to flip it over as it cooks, you can without any worries.

This is also a great idea for camping. I used to do this all the time before I had even heard of sheet pan meals. I would throw some cut up chicken into a foil packet with vegetables and seasonings and then put it in the cooler. That way, we could have a "real" home cooked meal while we were camping.

I forgot to mention that fish is easy to cook this way. Just be sure to adjust your times. And sometimes we just cut up a bunch of potatoes, add salt, pepper, and butter and cook them in foil. Take them off the grill (or out of the oven), add some cheese, and close it up again for a couple of minutes.

And desserts! I forgot all about desserts!

I've never tried it, but imagine Chex cereal with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Or biscuit dough in small pieces with apple pie filling. Or cut up apples with graham crackers and caramel sauce.

You'll have to try those and let me know!

About the author 

brenda

My name is Brenda and I was born without the "clean gene". I believe that you can keep your clean and tidy in minutes a day and still have time for yourself.

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