With everything going on in our lives right now, easy is a key word when it comes to cooking! Often, people think easy means sacrificing nutrition, which is totally false. Take it from this nutritionist: Easy can be nutritious AND inexpensive. Just use my favorite tip: "make half your plate produce."
In order to help you achieve this goal (and save money), we need to set our sights on seasonal produce and luckily it seems like everything is in season in June! Especially asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, and kale.
While there are so many ways to cook veggies, roasting them in the oven is number one in my book. Everything from asparagus to root vegetables tastes amazing once it’s been roasted to caramelized perfection. As a bonus, roasting is a super easy method of cooking! All you need is a sheet pan, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just grab your favorite fresh or frozen sale veggies (that’s right—fresh and frozen produce are both great to roast) or try one of my ideas below.
Sweet potatoes are delicious when slow roasted all by themselves but add black beans and you’ve got a hash. It’s a perfect main course for any meal of the day! Best of all, you can substitute any root vegetable (like potatoes, parsnips, beets, or carrots) for sweet potatoes—or use a mixture of root vegetables. Throw in your leftover vegetables, too!
Sweet Potato Hash with Black Beans (Serves 4)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes and shallots in olive oil and spread on a lined sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, tossing once during cook time. When soft and lightly browned, add the drained black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Toss and bake 10 minutes more. Drizzle with lime juice.
*Optional: Add eggs for flavor and protein!
Crack 1-2 eggs per person directly on the sheet pan when adding black beans. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until yolk is adequately cooked. Serve immediately, with hot sauce if preferred.
Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash
Brussels sprouts alone make a great component to a meal but adding butternut squash to the mix makes a sweet and savory blend that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Even people who typically don’t care for Brussels sprouts find themselves going back for seconds when they are charred to perfection.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Balsamic Glaze (Serves 6)
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, stems and outer leaves removed, halved
- 1 medium (about 2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into ½ in cubes
- 1 small red onion, halved, and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts and squash in olive oil and spread out on a lined sheet pan. Roast for about 40 minutes, tossing once during cook time. While vegetables are in the oven, heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Drizzle reduced sauce over the vegetables, toss and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until tender and crisp.
*Optional: Add chicken for easy protein!
Season boneless chicken thighs with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast with Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. Double balsamic vinegar reduction and drizzle over chicken and vegetables.
Peppers and Onions
At least once a month I see peppers go on sale at 5 for $5. When this happens, I snatch them up and grab my sheet pan! That's because peppers are easily the most versatile sides around and, if I'm lucky, I’ll have leftovers for my eggs in the morning.
Roasted Peppers and Onions (Serves 4)
- 2 medium onions, sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss peppers and onions in olive oil and spread out on a lined sheet pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once during cook time.
- Italian: Add chicken sausage. Make it a sandwich or a pasta topper with your favorite sauce.
- Fajitas: Wrap peppers and onions with cooked chicken or shrimp in a tortilla. Add avocado and sour cream as desired.
Savory Magazine and its recipe database at giantfood.com is a great resource for other sheet pan sides and meals. Remember to use store brands to save even more per person.
There you have it: my favorite low-cost sheet pan recipes that will up your vegetable game. Remember, we always want to aim for that half plate of produce, so let these recipes inspire you to meet that goal! Tag us with your sheet pan recipes with #NutritionMadeEasy!
Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthily (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys, she knows how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check prices and create a plan that will satisfy your tastebuds, wallet, and schedule. In her Healthy on a Budget series, she will convince you that it’s not “too expensive” to eat healthy.