Whether you’re a stay-at-home or working mom (or if, like me, you work from home), making dinner can be overwhelming at the end of a long day. There’s a meme by my blogger friend Christine, who writes at Keeper of the Fruit Loops
, that went viral because it was so relatable to millions of women everywhere.
“I’m just a mom, standing in front of the open fridge, hoping dinner will make itself.”
Right around 5:30 p.m. every day, I’m either hoping dinner will make itself, or I’m staring at my family wondering, WHY do they want ME to make dinner every night?
My one saving grace has been the slow cooker, which makes everything so easy, if and only if I remember to defrost meat the night before and get my preparations done early. If I don’t (and most times I don’t), then the slow cooker doesn’t really help me.
That’s why I’m so glad I recently stumbled upon this glorious, magical little lifesaver: the sheet pan dinner. What are sheet pan dinners, you ask? They are complete dinners, including a protein, vegetable and starch, that are simply seasoned and placed to cook on one rimmed baking sheet, which is lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, so there isn’t even a mess to clean up after!
If you’re still having a hard time conjuring up an image of sheet pan dinners and wondering what kind of sorcery this is, these recipes will break it all down for you and reassure you: you’re not dreaming.
I was drooling by the time I finished reading this super simple recipe. After lining the plan with parchment paper, all you have to do is roast a few chicken breasts for about 10 minutes, then add romaine lettuce to the pan and put everything back in the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the edges of the lettuce are crisped. Squeeze some lemon juice over the whole thing, and you’re finished. (The recipe also calls for anchovies over the lettuce, but I skipped them, because blecch, anchovies.)
Bok choy may be a little far out for your kids, but you never know – they may love it! It’s got a great crunch and mild, sweet flavor. If not, they can just eat the meat and potatoes. The recipe calls for adding miso (soybean paste) to the mayo, but if you don’t have any miso (or the time to hunt for it at the store), the next best thing is whisking 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce into the 1/4 cup of mayo.
A sheet pan is the perfect depth for making sliders, and this recipe couldn’t be easier (and it’s ready to eat in less than 15 minutes!). Plus, it’s so simple to personalize based on what your kids like. Substitute ham for beef if that’s what they like more. If pepper jack cheese isn’t their thing, try American or mozzarella cheese. You could even make a turkey bacon version. Add a veggie side dish, and dinner’s done.
This honey of a recipe would be perfect for Sunday supper! The recipe calls for carrots, golden potatoes and Brussels sprouts, but if your sprouts aren’t so into sprouts, you can always substitute something they do like. Or just use whatever you have on hand – sweet potatoes
, squash, broccoli, beets and parsnips are all delicious options. If you’re using more delicate vegetables, you may need to add them to the pan later so they don’t overcook.
This recipe is too easy to believe, especially if you buy shrimp that’s already been peeled and deveined, which REALLY speeds up the prep time. You can serve this on its own, or spoon it over rice
, pasta or even mashed potatoes.
This recipe is perfect for me, because I’m always trying to figure out what to do with salmon. It’s a great protein option when you don’t want to eat meat, and even though it can cost more than, say, chicken breast, this recipe pairs it with ingredients that aren’t expensive at all, like small yellow potatoes you can buy in bulk
If your family is like mine, they get a kick out of breakfast for dinner. (And if I’m being honest, sometimes that “fun” breakfast for dinner idea involves as little work for Mom as popping some waffles in the toaster. It’s a win-win). This recipe calls for more preparation than that, but it’s also super easy. For added protein, throw some little smokies or Canadian bacon on the pan before you crack open the eggs.
Making dinner for your family doesn’t have to be the last impossible hurtle in a long day. You can even throw many of these meals together on a sheet pan in the morning to refrigerate and cook at night. If, like me, you just can’t get it together that early (especially without at least two cups of coffee first), it’s a low-stress alternative in the evening. The typical dinner involves juggling multiple pots and pans, and hoping everything cooks and comes out at the same time, but sheet pan dinners take the circus act out of your dinnertime routine.