How to Simplify Cooking with One Tray Baked Meals

This tray will save you so much time in the kitchen, especially with clean-up!

I’ll show you how to assemble different types of baked trays, how to bake different types of veg and meat together at the same time – and how to prep-ahead to make cooking even faster!

All of the trays cook at the same temperature: 400F/200C 

30 Minute Meals_-11

What are One Tray Baked Meals?

Instead cooking a meal, dirtying up different pots and pans, One Tray Baking let’s you cook all the components of that meal, on one single pan. It’s a simple kitchen skill, that makes life that much easier.

There are a few considerations to consider when baking different types of vegetables and meat together. At the bottom of this article, I’ve listed out the various types of veg and meat, and how to prepare each type so that they bake evenly together in under 30 minutes!

I’m gong to show you different types of arrangements that you can create on one tray. Whether you want to bake crisp or steam – you can do it all at once! Depending on what you’re craving, see which one works best for you tonight:


How to Create 30 Minute Baked Meals


Foil Packets: Great for cooking vegetables, fish, chicken breast and pork tenderloin. This dry steam method will keep your food moist, and the natural juices released stay contained in its neat little packet.



foil-packets

Consider adding lemon juice, butter and even cream to create a flavourful sauce inside. Season with fresh herbs, capers, pesto and your favorite seasoning blend.

This method gives you lots of room for variation: You can make steamed fish with a lemon butter sauce inside a foil packet – and on the very same tray, cook potatoes to a crisp!


Separate Arrangement: Cook a complete meal, like meat and two vegetables all on one a single tray. It’s easy to put together and lets you control the flavours. If you want to do lemon-herb chicken with garlic broccoli on the side, you can season the chicken and broccoli differently – and still cook them both on the same tray.

separated

This arrangement gives you flexibility: If one person in your family loves spicy, cajun chicken and the other doesn’t – you can very easily do different flavours with no fuss at all. Or, if you want to batch cook chicken for the week ahead you can keep it interesting by mixing different flavours all on one tray.

Drizzle everything with olive oil, and then season one piece of chicken with one type of seasoning and the other, with a different.


Mixed Arrangement: Create a flavourful one-dish meal, with the flavours of meat, veg and seasonings all working together.

This arrangement gives you ease: throw everything together in one pan, and the ingredients combine to create a medley of flavours.

mixedtray

A simple way to think of it, is by cuisine: On one tray, you can make an Italian chicken dinner with tomatoes, garlic, onion and italian seasoning. Another night, you can change the flavours and do Mexican with chicken, bell peppers, onions and cumin.  Same technique, different flavours.

The key with a mixed arrangement is that you choose a pan that perfectly contains all ingredients with no extra space. You don’t want to spread it all out, it’s all about blending the juices and flavours together nicely!


How to Bake 30 Minute Vegetables

All of the trays cook at the same temperature: 400F/200C 

30 Minute Meals_

Potato, Sweet Potato: To ensure it cooks in only thirty minutes, make sure to cut them into small quarters, one inch round pieces, wedges, or cubes. You can also cut slices without cutting all the way through. This is called a Hasselback potato which can be stuffed with cheese, bacon or left simple.  To get a crispy outside and soft inside, make sure that they are completely dry before baking, otherwise they will simply steam.

Carrots: Peel and cut a carrot in half lengthwise, make carrot wedges or cut in diagonal 1 inch slices. To compliment the natural sweetness of carrots, pair with smoky and flavourful spices like paprika, curry, ginger, thyme and rosemary.

Mushroom: Portobello mushrooms are very filling and can replace meat on your plate. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese during the last ten minutes. Button mushroom bake well, leave them whole as they will cook quickly. Toss your mushrooms well oil and/or butter and add to the baking tray only during the last 15-20 minutes.  A good idea is to bake sliced mushrooms in a foil packet, seasoned with butter, lemon juice and garlic – it will cook beautifully in its own juices.

Onion: Compliment other vegetables really well, cut a whole onion in half and then into one inch wedges and mix in with other vegetables on your tray. Don’t separate the layers otherwise it will cook too quickly. Or,  you can cut a whole onion into one inch round slices, lay them flat on the tray and splash olive oil. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings – salt and pepper is all you need. You can also add breadcrumbs, parmesan and herbs during the last ten minutes.

Asparagus: Leave asparagus whole, drizzle with olive oil and season simply with salt and black pepper. Lay them down in a single layer, if you are baking a thinner variety of asparagus, give them a check half way through. You may want to flip them so they don’t burn.

Zucchini: Cut a zucchini in half, and score diagonally down the middle to cook well. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle your seasonings. To make wedges, cut a whole zucchini in quarters lengthways or cut the whole zucchini in one inch round slices. Zucchini cook quickly, you can place them in the oven during the last 20 minutes, toss it with olive oil and your favorite seasoning.

Broccoli, Cauliflower: To use an entire broccoli from stem to petal, cut lengthways in one centimeter slices. You can also bake the florets. Drizzle with olive oil and season well.

Tomato: Cut tomatoes in round slices, and top them with your favorite toppings: seasonings, herbs or breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. If you’re making a bed of vegetables for baked chicken, you can throw in some whole cherry tomatoes, wedges of onion and it will create a chunky tomato sauce. Add cubes of mozzarella just at the end.

Leek: Trim off the last inch and the green tops. Slice lengthways in half and rinse well to remove dirt and sand. Lay the halves down in a single layer. You can create a bed to bake fish or chicken right on top.


How to Cook Meat in 30 Minutes

All of the trays cook at the same temperature: 400F/200C 

BakingMeat

You can easily bake dark chicken meat, like leg and thighs straight on the tray, or on top of a bed of vegetables. It will come out tender with a crispy outer skin.

If you want to cook lean meat, like chicken breast or pork tenderloin, it will cook quicker so you’ll want to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Brush well with olive oil and season. Place on a tray and bake for 20 minutes, and increase the temperature to 450F/230C. You want it to cook hot and fast. It will pair well with quick cook vegetables like – asparagus and mushrooms or cut vegetables like potato and sweet potato into smaller, thinner pieces.

A simple idea is to bake chicken breast or pork tenderloin inside a foil packet with a knob of butter, with or without vegetables. You can also cover with parchment paper to keep it moist.

Equally important – to ensure the moistest meat possible – let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing!

Fish like Salmon bake beautifully in the oven, straight on the pan. In the last 10 minutes you can sprinkle breadcrumbs and herbs. Or create a foil packet to bake fish in it’s own juices with or without vegetables – you can add lemon slices, capers and fresh herbs to create a flavourful dish.

Seek out high-welfare meat. If you live in Singapore, go to: Oh Deli and The Alaska Guys.  


Time Saving Tips


Storage

Prep your veggies ahead of time, and store them in containers in your fridge. You can pre-chop onion, carrots, brocolli and prewash asparagus and mushrooms.  Store them dry, in an airtight container in your fridge to quickly assemble a 30 Minute One Tray Baked Meal.

If you have oven proof containers, you can assemble a complete dinner or two in advance, seasoned and ready to go! Just put in a hot oven and you’re done.


I hope all of these tips gave you some new ideas and inspiration to simplify your cooking. What are you baking in the oven and loving?

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Comments (2)

  • militza
    cara Reply

    I LOVE the cooking tray concept! Everyone in the family can enjoy what they want…spicy and sweet chicken. I will try it out this summer on holiday, it will take that hassel out of summer cooking.
    Thanks Militza!

    militza

    Hey Cara! Yay, glad to hear it’s inspired hassle free cooking! Love it :) Enjoy

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