Don’t get me wrong - I love experimenting in the kitchen. I could spend hours testing out new recipes, baking sweet treats, and using almost every kitchen utensil, spatula, dish, pot, and mixing bowl that I own. However, there are certain nights when ordering take-out or sliding a frozen pizza into the oven seems like the most convenient option after a long, tiring day. One-pan dinners are the closest solution I have discovered to this common issue among college-aged students.

As a college student myself, there is limited room in my small apartment kitchen and limited time to prepare healthy and satisfying meals. I have come to realize that while whipping up a box of Daiya Mac n’ Cheese or Instant Ramen may be the “easy” solution, it will not give me the long-lasting energy that I need to work and perform at the highest level possible.

I strive to eat a balanced diet and follow the principles of intuitive eating. I avoid common fad diets such as “Keto” or “Paleo” and rather incorporate all foods in moderation. If I am truly craving a frozen pizza one night, I will honor that craving rather than telling myself I “shouldn’t” have it. I have found that completely depriving myself of certain food items rather than allowing myself to eat something that will bring me true satisfaction, often leads to unhealthy habits such as binge eating. That being said, processed and fast foods are typically high in saturated fat and often have a negative impact on my mood, make me feel sluggish, and can lead to health problems down the line.

Like many of you, I have made it a goal to start off the new year in the healthiest way possible. This means eating nutritious foods while balancing classes, an internship, extracurricular activities, and a consistent workout routine. Over winter break, I started testing out one-pan meals for my family and I. These meals are great because there are so many different recipes online that cater to all dietary preferences or restrictions. These meals also typically include a protein, carbohydrate, and fat in every recipe. Incorporating all three macronutrients in a meal is key to feeling fuller for longer! There are so many options that allow for ultimate flexibility too - If you are in the mood for a vegetarian option such as tofu rather than chicken, simply substitute wherever needed!

This past week I made my family a one-pan balsamic chicken and veggie dish from @noshandnourish. I simply marinated chicken breasts in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, thyme, and garlic. After they had marinated, I put the chicken on a sheet pan with broccoli, mushrooms, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Cook at 400 and done!

Emma Barker

I have included a few one-pan recipes for inspiration at the end of this article that are sure to give you a few ideas and prepare you for this upcoming semester ;) Some recipes may be more difficult or require more preparation and cleaning than others!

If you make any of these recipes or have a one-pan dish of your own, let me know on instagram at @whatisemmaeating !! I’m always looking to test out a new healthy recipe. 

One-Pan Recipe Ideas: 

20 Healthy Sheet Pan Dinners from @eatingbirdfood 

One-Pan Salmon Dinner from @erinliveswhole 

One-Pan Baked Chicken Fajitas from @erinliveswhole

One-Pot Pasta from @erinliveswhole 

Sheet Pan Archives from @halfbakedharvest 

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Vegan Chorizo Sheet Pan Dinner from @goop