These one-pot cooking strategies make weeknight meals easy, says cookbook author Melissa Clark

These one-pot cooking strategies make weeknight meals easy, says cookbook author Melissa Clark

It doesn’t get much easier than a one-pot meal. What’s not to love about a dinner that comes together in a single vessel with hearty, soul-warming ingredients the whole family will enjoy—and leaves you with just one dish to wash afterwards?

New York Times food writer and author Melissa Clark celebrates these dishes in her new book, Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals. Within its pages, she reveals her secrets—plus 100 recipes—to making these streamlined, no-fuss dinners, nearly all of which can go from stove to table in less than an hour. Better yet, she’s sharing her strategies for making every one-pot meal a success.

6 tips for making one-pot meals

Make smart substitutions

one-pot meals
Image Credit: Jason Briscoe/Unsplash

“You can always build from what [ingredients] you have—a recipe is only a guide,” says Clark, noting that the versatility of one-pot meals is one of their best qualities.

Vegetable swaps

It’s easy to swap vegetables that cook in the same amount of time; cherry tomatoes, spinach, kale, chard, mushrooms, or zucchini can all be easily substituted for one another since they cook quickly. Longer-cooking vegetables can be substituted, too, such as carrots, potatoes, winter squash, eggplant, and peppers.

Protein swaps

When it comes to protein, fish, boneless chicken, and tofu are often interchangeable. “The key thing to keep in mind is cooking time,” says Clark. “Then, think about what flavours will go well together.”

Try different cuts and types of protein

Just about any cut of meat can be incorporated in a one-pot recipe, so long as you cook it for the correct amount of time. You might like making one-pot meals like stews and soups that call for chunks of meat on the bone (i.e., shanks or bone-in chicken), but they can also work with boneless pieces of meat, which cook faster, says Clark.

One-pot meals can also easily be made vegetarian. Going meat-free? Simply swap in tofu, beans, fish, or even cheese (like halloumi or feta) and experiment by using them as the main protein element in your dish, says Clark.

Have the right cookware on hand

one-pot meals
Image Credit: Becca Tapert/Unsplash

The beauty of a one-pot meal is that—as the name implies—it only requires one cooking vessel. With that said, not every variation is made in a pot. A pan, Dutch oven, skillet, casserole dish, or even an Instant pot can work, too, depending on your recipe. Stock your kitchen with the following equipment to maximize your ability to make amazing one-pot meals, advises Clark.

  • Sheet pan (ideally 13 x 18 inches with 1-inch sides)
  • 5 or 6-quart Dutch oven
  • Large soup pot
  • 10 or 12-inch skillet (or both)
  • 9 x 13-inch or 2.5-quart casserole or gratin dish
  • Instant Pot

Add these items to your grocery list

Fill your pantry and fridge with versatile ingredients so you can whip up a one-pot meal on the fly. Clark recommends adding the following items to your shopping list.

  • For the pantry: canned beans, pasta, canned tuna, anchovies, garlic, olive oil, onions, jarred roasted peppers, olives
  • For the refrigerator: parmesan, a tube of tomato paste, baby spinach, parsley or cilantro, lemons

Keep serving size in mind

The serving size for anyone-pot meal is dependent on the size of the pan, says Clark.

  • Sheet pans and smaller skillets feed two to four people
  • Dutch ovens, 12-inch skillets, and casserole dishes serve four to six people
  • Soup pots and Instant Pots serve six to eight people

In general, the larger the pot, the more it can hold and more people it can feed, says Clark. However, if you’re feeding a crowd, there’s no need to avoid a one-pot meal. Simply double up and two skillets, two sheet pans, two pots, and so forth.

Cater to a variety of dietary needs

“If you are serving a one-pot meal to a group of people with different dietary desires and preferences, the sheet pan is your best friend,” says Clark. You might use tofu or chicken as your protein on half the pan and fish or sausage on the other. Or, you can use two smaller pans, known as quarter sheet pans, to feed vegans and carnivores without making separate meals: Try sausages and broccoli on one and tofu and broccoli on the other (they can both be made in the oven at the same time).

Soups are another great option for meeting a variety of dietary needs, notes Clark. Start by making a recipe that everyone loves and can eat, then add garnishes that will satisfy the different dietary needs of those around the table. Top the broth with fried chickpeas or chopped toasted nuts for those who don’t eat gluten and croutons for those who do.

This story first appeared on

(Credit for the hero and featured image: Amy Dickerson)

© 2021 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Licensed from and published with permission of Meredith Corporation. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

The post These one-pot cooking strategies make weeknight meals easy, says cookbook author Melissa Clark appeared first on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.

Back to blog