Sheet pan dinners are one of the rock stars of the meal prep world. You may have visions of a chest freezer stacked full of zippered bags that you just up-end onto the pan and go. That’s close to the reality, but results will vary. Follow these tips for constructing a balanced sheet pan meal your family can love.
Balance the ingredients for nutrition.
A good rule of thumb is 4-6oz. of protein to 2 cups of vegetables per serving. If your veggies are all starchy, the ideal portion might be smaller. A quick visual guideline is to ask yourself if there’s a nice array of vegetative color in the tray. More colors, more diverse nutrition. Choose proteins that are low in saturated fat, and cook with a modest amount of unsaturated fat like olive oil for improved flavor, satiety, and nutrition.
Balance the ingredients for texture.
Sweet potatoes and squash will be soft. Grape tomatoes will get squishy. Green vegetables like pea pods, broccoli, or cabbage can provide crunch. Try to include 2-3 vegetables not only for nutrition, but also to provide a varied texture that can keep the meal more interesting to eat.
Balance the cook times.
Look up the cooking time on your meats and cut slow-cooking vegetables, like sweet potato, into small enough pieces that they can cook in the same short window you need for tomatoes or fish. Some vegetables, like onions, will just do better with long bake times even if you cut them pretty small, so for the best flavors and texture, consider layering your bake times by starting the pan in the oven with just your slowest-cooking ingredients and adding faster cooking ones as you go.