One Pan & One Pot Meals
There’s something awesome about one pot meals! Simply putting all your ingredients in one pot or one pan and miraculously creating a unique meal seems almost magical. Nevertheless, One Pot Meals are where it’s at when looking for simplicity and ease of clean-up. Likewise, during the pandemic, there has been a trend of people cooking more at home. After all, eating home-cooked meals is associated with improved nutrition; therefore, one pot and one pan meals can be a way to promote this Healthy Habit of the New Year.
Today’s blog will focus on mastering One Pot Meals and One Pan Meals. Also, I will include such handy appliances as Slow Cookers, Pressure Cookers or Air Fryers. The intention of this blog is to demonstrate how to streamline meals to lower stress. Additionally, remember that an easy dinner does not mean a dull dinner.
This post was sponsored by the Egg Farmers of Ontario, as always, all opinions are genuine.
What are One Pot or One Pan Meals?
Before we jump right into all the ‘pots-a-bilities’ (wink), it’s important to clarify the definition. When speaking about one pot or one pan meals, I am referring to doing all the cooking in one single baking cookware. Instead of using two pots and multiple sheet pans, we are reducing the kitchen equipment down to only one.
5 Benefits of One Pot Meals:
- Get all your nutrition in one pot – Aim to have a source of protein, carbs and veg! After all, that’s the way to go for balanced nutrition. This will give your body energy, protein to sustain you, along with fibre and vitamins and minerals in those veggies. (Stay tuned for lots of meal ideas below).
- Simmering or roasting one pot/pan meals allows the flavours to combine, thus, creating scrumptious meals that are sure to please a crowd (think stews, soups and casseroles).
- Reduce cleanup. By using only one pot or pan there are fewer dishes to wash. This sure beats a sink full of dishes after a weeknight meal. Or you may only have to clean one slow-cooker pot, Instant Pot or Air Fryer. Less pots or less pans is less fuss!
- Ideal Leftovers – To save yourself a headache for planning a week of new dinner ideas, why not batch prepare your one pot or one pan meal for ideal lunch leftovers or future freezer meals?
- Meal Theme Focus – Set the intention of having a day of the week for One Pot or One Sheet-Pan meals. Mexican night, Breakfast for dinner or Soup-Theme adds focus to your dinner ideas. As a result, grocery shopping and meal planning are made easier. See this post on 15 Fun (& Unique) Meal themes for more inspiration!
One Pan or One Pot Meal Categories
To help in brainstorming one pan or one pot meals, we have broken them down into five major categories. Get ready for lots of meal inspo! Additionally, be sure to take notes of the dinners you want to try and plug them in a meal plan. Having an idea of what you want to cook makes grocery shopping easier and more focused too.
1. One Pot Meals
This is the most popular one-pot-meal category – put everything in One Big Pot (or Dutch oven) and go for the gold! By that I just mean a tasty and nutritious meal. Here are some one pot meals that are sure to impress you or your family:
Chili is an admired one pot meal. Likely the most common and standard one. It’s a perfect way to use veggies on hand, a ton of beans and legumes (I love lentils, black beans and chickpeas in mine.) You can also choose your protein from legumes, ground beef, turkey, pork, veggie ground or chicken. Lastly, the one pot clean-up is easy and the leftovers (including freezer meals) are always awesome.
Dietitian Foodie Idea: To use leftover chili, try making it into a bowl-style where you add cool toppings (see Summer Chili Bowl above). You can also top whole grain nachos/tortilla chips with leftover chili, extra veggies and shredded cheese for weeknight tacos! Or possibly use the chili to make quick and easy burritos? Whatever you choose, chili as a one pot meal is awesome to batch-cook for speedy future meals!
Another popular option for the one-pot-meal category is to use pasta for your carbohydrate and balance the meal with protein and veggies. To make one pot pastas, you will be cooking your veggies, protein and your pasta all in the same pot. This means adding sufficient water, milk, or broth for your cooking liquid. Importantly, be sure to taste test your pasta to ensure it’s cooked to your preferred doneness (al dente is best). This means you might have to add more liquid if the pasta isn’t done yet. Conversely, if more comfortable, you could always cook your pasta separately and add it to your sauce but this adds an extra pot.
Here’s a scrumptious one pot Gouda Mac and Cheese with Peas. Like chili, it’s awesome for leftovers. Remember, it does not take twice as much time to cook twice as much! Batch cooking reduces the amount of time we need to be in the kitchen because we can simply re-heat.
Gouda Mac & Cheese Peas!
Simmering flavours in a curry allow for the full appreciation of the aromas and spices. Curries are a staple one pot meal and again you simply add your veggies and your protein along with carb. For my Mussels in a Red Curry Sauce, I added baguette on the side to soak up the curry and to balance the meal with a source of carbohydrate. Additionally, if you’re curious about the nutrition of mussels, we have that for you too.
2. One Sheet Pan Meals
Sheet Pan Meals are super trendy and impressive. They are ideal for winter months because you can simply heat the oven and toss all your ingredients onto one pan and into the oven it goes! However, the only consideration with this style of one pan cooking is proportionate cutting of foods for uniform cooking times. For example, if you have potatoes and fish on a sheet pan, you will want to ensure the potatoes are cut in small pieces so they will be done cooking at the same time as the fish.
Naan flatbreads are one of my favourite quick and easy meals. In fact, I always keep my freezer stocked with naan bread, and different types of cheese and a little bottle of pizza sauce in the fridge. Stocking your kitchen for healthy eating success also means I have quick proteins like eggs, ready to be used.
Eggs for Classy Panache!
Have you noticed that eggs make dishes extra classy? Something about that silky yellow yolk just entices the palate and creates visual interest. Consequently, I added a sunny side up egg to my Flatbread for a beautiful flare and a complete protein source. In fact, many do not know that we receive half the protein in the yolk and most of the nutrition – such as choline for the brain and lutein (a type of carotenoid) for brain and eye health. Actually, there are 6 grams of protein per egg along with 14 essential minerals. Can’t beat that for a completely affordable price too (see blog on Cheap, Healthy Meals for only $2/serving meals).
Here are More One Pan Meal Ideas:
3. One Fry Pan, Skillet or Casserole Dish Meals
Now that we’ve used the one large pot and one sheet pan, we can move on to other cooking equipment that can be used to cook your entire meal. A large fry pan, skillet or casserole dish can all do the trick. Here are some tasty and nutritious meal options to try:
Colourful Fried Rice
We could not have a one pot meal blog without a dedicated category for soups! After all, they are a hug in a mug and can easily become complete nutritionally balanced meals. If you are new to making soups be sure to have your ingredients prepped in advance for easily assembly. This is known as Mise En Place. Sauté your vegetables (could also roast them if you’re wanting to use another pan), add your protein and carbohydrates. Finally, pour in your broth and any fresh or dried herbs for seasoning.
Here are One Pot Soups for #MealInspiration!
5. Appliances – Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Air Fryer
Now, to finish up my One Pot and One Pan meal blog, I have to include the luxurious appliances that can be used. You might be familiar with the traditional slow cooker, or the trendy Pressure Cooker (aka Instant Pot) or the new guy in town, Air Fryer. These can be wonderful ways to again reduce your clean-up and also prep your meal ahead and go about your day while it cooks.
Here are some One Pot Meals using appliances:
Our One Pan and One Pot meals are a way to simplify any what’s-for-dinner dilemmas. Using one piece of cooking equipment allows you to hit your nutritional goals, have flavour-packed meals and speed the clean-up process. Be sure to try new recipes with a friend or family member. Similarly, you could dedicate one day of the week as an ‘Adventurous Cooking Day’ to try something new in the kitchen – perhaps new recipe or one of our one pot meal ideas. Virtual cooking with a friend is another fun option if isolated during the pandemic. Whatever way you choose, cook more and include wholesome ingredients to benefit your nutrition.
Now it’s your turn! Are you into one pot or one pan meals? Do you have strategies to help ensure leftovers for times when you’re too busy to cook? Nevertheless, remember that we don’t need meals to be complicated and time-consuming to be nutritious. Help your future self by reducing clean-up and having pre-made options handy when you need them!