Let’s Talk About Sheet Pans
And sheet pan meals, too.
Doesn’t that sound like the most interesting conversation you’ll have all week?
Well, nevertheless, it must be done.
First, too many of you have poor quality sheet pans.
I know because I own 4 of them myself.
One was from my bridal shower (I’ve been married almost 39 years) and the other three look as though they came from the dollar store.
They are rusty and stained and warped.
Plus I have two perfectly good ones from Gordon Food Services that are the size of two of those flimsy ones, still look new, and are nice and sturdy. Why don’t I throw the others out?
Anyway, whether you have good sheet pans or not, you can make some wonderful, quick meals using them.
The Basics of a Sheet Pan Meal
I always line my pans with either foil or parchment paper. I’m hoping it means less cleanup, and sometimes it does. Other times, I just have to wash the pan.
I like sheet pan meals because they are quick, easy, and versatile. You can throw almost any combination on them, add some seasonings, and you have a meal in about 30 minutes. And most of them are healthy too.
The basics of a sheet pan meal are simply some kind of meat – you want something that does well in the oven and will cook quickly – and some vegetables.
So to begin planning a sheet pan meal, start with the meat.
You want something that will cook fairly quickly, and in smallish portions. Some examples:
- Chicken cutlets
- Chicken tenders
- Fish fillets
- Thin cut pork chops
- Smoked sausages cut into pieces
- Certain tender cuts of beef, like sirloin, sliced into small pieces
Next the vegetables. Almost anything will do, in any combination. This is a great way to clean out your fridge.
The vegetables can be in any form – fresh, frozen, from the fridge (leftovers) or even canned.
Toss everything together with some olive oil so that it’s all covered.
And finally, don’t forget the seasonings. Add salt and pepper, seasoned salts (our favs), and herbs. Dried herbs are great but once you’ve used fresh ones, you won’t believe the difference!
Usually, about 25 – 30 minutes in a 350° oven works.
You can add extras like a salad or some rice or quinoa, but it’s really not necessary.
Here are some of our favorites to get you started:
- Smoked sausage, cut in pieces
- Corn on the cob, small sections
- Bell peppers
- Garlic ( especially good if you use a whole clove. Cut the top off to expose all the cloves, wrap in foil, and drizzle with olive oil. Seal and add to the pan. The garlic gets soft and mellow. You can just squeeze it out onto your food.)
- Tomatoes (optional)
- Oregano or Old Bay
You might want to make some rice with this.
Chicken and Vegetables
- Small pieces of chicken – thighs give more flavor
- Small potatoes
- Green beans
- Any other vegetable you want
- Thyme and rosemary work well with chicken, so does Herbs de Provence
Chicken and Brussel Sprouts
- Chicken thighs
- Brussel sprouts
- Other vegetables, if desired
- Season simply and roast for about 20 minutes, then drizzle with good balsamic vinegar. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Good quality steak, cut into strips
- Bell peppers
- Jalapeños and/or tomatoes if desired
- Garlic in foil if desired
Butternut Squash and Cauliflower
- Butternut squash, cut into cubes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese – add at the end, about 5 minutes before it comes out
This one isn’t a meal, but you could throw some chicken cutlets on it and have a wonderful meal.
And if you want to make it super special, take it off the sheet pan, and put it into a good sized serving dish. Add a little real cream to the veggies and chicken, along with some parsley and toss. This is good enough for company or the holidays!
And for more ideas, I have a Pinterest board for you to check out.
One More Idea
This is to save you even more time. (Yay!)
Give some thought to your meal planning before you go shopping. (And don’t forget there are free meal planning and grocery list sheets in the Library. If you’re a subscriber, you have the password. And if you’re not, the form is right below.)
So, you could space this out over the course of several weeks, to make it more affordable and less overwhelming.
Each week when you shop, keep your eyes out for things like meats on sale. (Buying chicken tenders or cutlets is more expensive than buying boneless, skinless breasts and doing it yourself. Sure, they’ll look weird when you first start out, but who cares what shape it’s in? It’s chicken!)
So when you get home, cut your meat up if you need to, throw it into a gallon sized freezer bag, and add some vegetables. Frozen is good. Throw in your seasonings.
A really great trick? Add some Italian salad dressing or some marinade. You can buy it already made or do your own: vinegar, oil, and your seasonings.
This way, as everything thaws out, it’s getting extra flavor and moisture from the marinade.