There are fast meals, and then there are one-dish meals. Most people love eating, quite a few enjoy cooking, but almost nobody gets their kicks from washing a tower of dirty dishes. To make prioritizing healthy eating at home that much easier, here are a whole slew of healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and side dishes that only use one pot. From skillet dishes to tasty casseroles, read on for plenty of healthy recipes that are quick, straightforward, and most importantly, easy to clean up.
This savory skillet makes for a perfect weekend breakfast, brunch, or even dinner (because who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner). The sweet potatoes take some time to cook, but the only prep work is cutting them up, so you’ll be relaxing most of the time.
Heathier French toast without all the mess? We're sold. Mix half a mashed banana, coconut milk, flaxseed, and vegan buttery spread in a mug, and store in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Stir in a diced-up piece of day-old bread and microwave for two minutes. Serve with cinnamon and banana slices, sliced almonds, or a little maple syrup.
Go ahead, start the day with a little chocolate—some researchers say it can be beneficial to eat something sweet in the morning to stave off cravings later in the day. Cocoa powder and vanilla sweetens up these oats, while egg whites and ground flaxseeds add in protein and fiber, giving you a flavorful and filling, hot breakfast. Add chocolate chips or nuts on top for an extra crunch.
From the crispy bacon to the sharp cheddar to the fresh Swiss chard, this frittata is nothing if not savory. Lighten it up by using turkey bacon and reduced-fat cheese. To make it truly one-dish, cook the bacon, remove, and then mix everything up in the same skillet.
This Mediterranean-inspired dish is ready in fewer than 30 minutes and is an easy way to finish off the rest of that tomato sauce in your fridge. The spicy sauce is smooth and creamy underneath runny eggs, fresh parsley, and shaved Parmesan.
This recipe can easily be made vegan by using water, not milk, and is miles away from a packet of artificially flavored instant oatmeal. Start by heating up oats in boiled water or milk, then mix in a mashed banana, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. For even more delicious flavor, top with a scoop of nuts, a teaspoon of honey, or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Technically, this recipe involves two dishes, but if you make a big batch of pesto yogurt (and really, why wouldn’t you?) ahead of time, there’s just one pot to wash. Or make the mix right in the yogurt container. The recipe is designed for a solo breakfaster, but is easily adapted for a larger crowd.
As far as breakfast breads go, this one is miles ahead of whatever you’d find in your standard coffee shop. Greek yogurt, honey, and whole-wheat flour make this pumpkin bread a good quick breakfast or snack with a mug of coffee or tea. If muffins are more your style, mix everything up in a bowl and then transfer to muffin tins.
This recipe is perfect for those days when you need something spicy to get going in the morning. Cayenne pepper and hot sauce give the sweet potatoes, black beans, and corn a nice kick, while eggs and Monterey jack cheese add some protein to keep you full until lunch.
As the name suggests, this lighter breakfast treat gets its sweetness from honey and its hearty crumb from whole-wheat pastry flour. Save a bowl and mix everything up right in the baking dish. You've got breakfast for the week—grab a slice on your way out the door or savor some with a cup of tea on mornings you wake up on the first alarm (#goals).
For a veggie-rich breakfast, look no further than this easy frittata. This skillet egg dish is loaded with colorful produce, especially if you can score some multihued heirloom cherry tomatoes. The sage, thyme, and basil on top will make you want to plant your own garden ASAP.
Soups, Snacks, and Sides
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be as decadent or as healthy as you choose. For a lighter version, just use less butter, part-skim cheese, and nondairy milk. Otherwise, this comforting soup is pretty easy—just onions, potatoes, chicken stock, and corn—and only requires about 10 minutes of active cooking time.
If you’re in the market for a super-flavorful but healthy soup, look no further. This recipe features plenty of nutty, fresh pesto as well as a ton of kale, beans, and carrots. Oh, and it takes about 30 minutes (and one pot!) from start to finish. Can’t beat it.
Most people don’t hear homemade bread and think “easy” or “one-bowl,” but this no-knead recipe is a cinch. Mix the ingredients in a Dutch oven and, while the dough is resting wrapped in a towel, give the pot a quick wash to get rid of any messy residue. Preheat the clean pot in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Next, pop the dough back into the hot pot and bake until golden and crusty.
Enjoy all the veggies at once with this full-flavor salad. Combine cabbage, carrots, edamame, peppers, onions, and cashews in your serving bowl, then mix together a sweet and spicy Thai sauce to pour over your salad. Sub in apple cider vinegar for rice vinegar—it has plenty of health benefits.
This beautiful bean salad hardly counts as a recipe, it’s that easy. Combine all the ingredients (black beans, corn, tomato, red onion, scallion, lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro) and refrigerate for a bit to let the flavors soak in together. Just before serving, cut up an avocado and add slices on top.
Feeling drained and droopy after a tough workout (or illness)? This soup will get you back on track fast: It’s loaded with protein and complex carbs to fuel those muscles right. We recommend cooking up a big pot and freezing it in smaller portions for easy, quick meals whenever you want.
While traditionalists will say each vegetable must be peeled, chopped, and cooked separately before the whole dish comes together… ain’t nobody got time for that. Use a braising pot to layer the chopped veggies over tomato sauce and cook uncovered for an hour. You’ll be happy to have leftovers—the stew gets better the longer it’s in the fridge, and is delicious as a side dish or a vegetarian entrée.
As far as soups go, this traditionally Italian vegetarian recipe is as easy as they come. Cut up vegetables and slowly add all the ingredients to the pot, letting the soup simmer. In 30 minutes, dinner is ready. To make this dish truly one pot, cook the orzo ahead of time or mix it in with the soup while still hot.
If you haven’t invested in a spiralizer yet, this recipe just might convince you. Zucchini “noodles” form the base for this healthy bowl, which also contains lettuce, carrots, and a protein of your choice (tofu, chicken, and shrimp are all good). If you don’t have fish sauce in your pantry, feel free to use soy sauce in the dressing instead.
To get away with washing only one bowl, line a baking tray with parchment paper before assembling these quick, easy appetizer bites. Mix chopped broccoli, cheddar cheese, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, and seasoning together in a large bowl. Form the mixture into small tater tots, lay them on the parchment-lined sheet (hooray for easy cleanup) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Vegetarian Main Dishes
Between the cheese, refried beans, and even more cheese, Tex-Mex cuisine has a reputation for being not so healthy. Luckily, this dish incorporates all of the flavor (hello, avocado mousse) along with plenty of protein, thanks to the quinoa and black beans. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large skillet, then throw in the rest of the ingredients.
Not sure what to do with leftover mashed potatoes? Put them on top of this easy shepherd’s pie, which takes just 10 minutes of prep time. Start by sautéing beef, then stir in the veggies, broth, spices, and flour before scooping potatoes on top. After half an hour in the oven, you’ve got a hearty, well-rounded meal that puts chicken pot pies to shame.
Spicy and sweet is one of the best flavor combos in our book, so this vegan dish is clearly a winner. Curry and chili powders keep the sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and pineapple from tasting too sweet, while spinach and onions add more veggies and textures to the mix. Serve the curry warm with naan, over brown rice, or on its own.
This cheesy skillet combines lots of basic refrigerator items, a.k.a. it’s great for throwing together when you are short on time and looking to use up random items. Coat chicken breasts in Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper, then mix in a skillet with broccoli, rice (swap white for brown to make it a tad healthier), cheese, apple juice, chicken broth, and apple cider vinegar, then let it simmer.
Next time you’re craving take-out fried rice, resist the urge; this version takes 15 minutes to make (faster than the delivery guy, really), and is way healthier, thanks to brown rice, low-sodium soy sauce, and lots of veggies.
Pasta gets a bad rep, but this whole-wheat spaghetti dish is filled with veggies: Spinach, mushroom, onions, and fire-roasted tomatoes fill it out and pack in plenty of nutrients. Add the ingredients to a pot with spices, vegetable broth, and garlic, and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
These hearty, seasoned beans are packed with flavor and are unreal-easy to make—you basically just need to know how to open a can. On its own, this would make a great snack. Put it on a bed of greens, or pair it with roasted vegetables and a slice of crusty bread for a light, no-stress meal.
Don’t let all the spices scare you; they’re not essential, but they do add to the taste and can be reused for many more meals. This spicy stew combines tomatoes, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, onion, and spinach with water, garlic, and lemon juice for a full-flavored meal. Pro tip: Make a big batch on the weekend and reheat throughout the week for plenty of easy meals.
Every once in awhile, everyone needs a clean, simple meal. Boil mung beans, drain, and add chopped veggies and avocado. Pour olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice over and mix it all up. Veggie-wise, feel free to swap out ingredients for whatever’s in the crisper—this recipe is ideal for using up spare odds and ends in the refrigerator.
The spice list for this dish might be a little daunting, but after you’ve got them all together, the rest is cake—simply toss the onions, peppers, tomatoes, and chickpeas into a pot and wait for the spicy aromas to begin. Chana masala is super versatile: Serve it with brown rice, naan bread, or hey, just go at it with a fork.
Meat, Chicken, and Fish Main Dishes
What’s even easier than a one-pot meal? A one-tray meal, of course. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil for zero cleanup. Just toss shrimp and broccoli with olive oil, spices, and lemon zest and bake for 20 minutes. Dinner is served!
Another easy one-pan meal, this lemon-baked salmon with veggies gets its aroma and taste from fresh lemon, a fresh basil chimichurri sauce, and a touch of grated Parmesan. Pile the pan high with salmon, asparagus, and potatoes, and half an hour later you’ve got a restaurant-worthy meal in your own kitchen.
Orzo, a thick, small pasta that looks like rice, isn’t used often enough, if you ask us. Mix it with spinach, cherry tomatoes, onions, and chicken drumsticks for a Mediterranean-inspired meal that kicks your usual pasta recipe up a notch.
If you haven’t tried chorizo yet, you’re missing out on tons of flavor and a protein that’s super easy to prep. In a skillet, combine the spicy sausage with rice, veggies, black beans, chicken broth, and spices and cook for 20 minutes. Get ready for a kitchen smelling so good it will make your mouth water.
Health-ify another Spanish favorite, arroz con pollo, by swapping out rice for quinoa. The protein-packed grain tastes just as good soaked in chicken stock and mixed with carrots, peppers, onions, and peas. Sazon, or any other Latin seasoning, gives the dish a spicy, slightly salty taste.
Almost everything is better with a sunny-side egg on top of it, and this hearty bowl is no exception. To make it truly one pot, skip the blender and mix the tomatoes, garlic, water, and chili powder right in the skillet. Add in potatoes and sausage; once cooked, make a well with a ladle and crack the eggs into the skillet. Carefully scoop into bowls and serve over lentils and kale leaves.
Three distinctive ingredients give this recipe some serious North African flavor. Balance out sweet apricots with spicy cinnamon and earthy lamb. It doesn’t hurt that this recipe is beyond easy to make—just combine ingredients and let simmer, then transfer to the oven for a few hours until the flavors have combined and the meat is tender. Stir in chickpeas and transfer back to the stove for a few minutes before serving.
Spicy Tabasco sauce brings this dish from basic to bangin’. Cook skinless chicken thighs (so much flavor!) on the stove, then add in diced tomatoes, garbanzo beans, onion, and kale, and let simmer. Use whole-wheat flour instead of white to make the meal a touch healthier.
Cooking fish “en papillote” (a.k.a. in a parchment-paper packet) is the ultimate one-dish cooking method. Fill each parchment packet with a halibut fillet, veggie strips, lemon slices, and seasoning. Cook for about 15 minutes and serve. When the meal is over, just toss the empty wrappers. So long, messy kitchen!
Hamburger Helper doesn’t stand a chance next to this delish, filling pasta dish that takes only slightly more effort to make. Start by cooking sausage, then add in the rest of the ingredients, ending with the goat cheese and Parmesan, stirring frequently. Make the creamy dish a little better for you by using skim milk and a whole-wheat or veggie-based pasta.
Brighten up the dinner table with this veggie-packed dish: Bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes are paired with chicken thighs, basil leaves, and olives for an easy-to-make meal. Brown the chicken, add in chopped veggies, and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Top with basil and oregano and you’re ready to eat.
Everyone has his or her own special recipe for chili, but you’ll want to give this healthier version a second look. It combines lean ground turkey, kidney beans, corn, peppers, and plenty of chili powder (duh!).
Some nights, a craving for sweets hits, but you really don't want to go to the grocery store and wind up with an entire cake on your hands. Whip up this easy cake-in-a-mug instead, which uses a banana, an egg, cocoa powder, and frozen raspberries to make a #healthyish (and flourless!) dessert for one. Best of all, it comes together in about a minute in the microwave.
This dessert tastes like a berry cobbler but is infinitely easier to make. Mix oats, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a small baking dish and then add in 2 cups fresh or frozen berries. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then dig in.
One-bowl brownies sound dangerous (as in, we’d make them every night), but these guys have just seven ingredients and no refined sugar, butter, or oil, so you can feel good about indulging in one when you need something sweet, stat. This recipe calls for peanut butter, shredded zucchini, maple syrup, cocoa powder, ground flaxseed (or an egg), baking soda, and chocolate chips. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then transfer to a baking pan—warm, gooey brownies are ready in half an hour.
Natural ingredients, no baking, and it all comes together in one bowl—hooray! Mix up nut butter, honey, rolled oats, unsweetened coconut, vanilla, sea salt, and any other additions that sound good (try chopped nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or spices). Refrigerate the “dough” for 30 minutes, and then roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to eat ‘em.
Even with no added sugar, this chocolate pudding is seriously decadent and perfect for a special occasion. Mix dates, coconut milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a blender and pour into ramekins or small bowls for individual servings. If there’s an immersion blender or hand-mixer lurking somewhere in the kitchen, you can mix and serve this rich mousse all in one bowl.
These cookies are pretty healthy and easy to prepare. The downside? It's tough to eat just one. Wash only one dish by thoroughly lining a baking tray with aluminum foil. Combine bananas, oats, peanut butter, vanilla protein powder, chocolate chips, chopped almonds, and a pinch of salt, then spoon cookie-size portions onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes and you’re all set.
Keep the dentist happy with this no-white-sugar fudge. The sweetness comes from super-ripe bananas (and maple syrup, if the bananas aren’t very ripe). Combine bananas, cocoa powder, coconut butter, and salt in a food processor and let the mixture set in a pan in the freezer for a few minutes. Add cinnamon or vanilla extract for extra flavor.
This dairy-free fro-yo is easy to make with or without an ice cream maker. Just combine the ingredients in a bowl (nondairy yogurt, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, pecans, vanilla extract, and spices) and put through the handy tool, or freeze for about an hour. Remember to stir occasionally, or you’ll have a frozen block of pumpkin-flavored goodness instead of creamy frozen soy yogurt.
Oats are an ideal base for healthier cookies. Combine in a pan with peanut butter, honey or maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla, and shredded unsweetened coconut. Mix well then spoon out 1 tablespoon portions onto a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate till hardened for easy, healthy cookies in no time.
Grown-up s’mores that are way less messy to eat? Yes, please. This recipe offers Paleo, vegan, and gluten-free product options, but if you don’t have dietary restrictions, chocolate baking chips, graham crackers, and marshmallows are all you need, plus a little coconut oil. Line a muffin tin so you only have to clean one bowl—the one you melt the chocolate and oil in.
Originally published October 2014. Updated December 2016.