Can’t decide what to cook for dinner? While we don’t recommend throwing just anything together, we do love the simplicity of an everything-in-one-pot meal. This way, you can have your pasta, chicken, AND vegetables all in one bowl. There’s something especially pleasing about a well-executed single pot meal. In an ideal one-pot recipe, all aspects of the meal should be done to perfection: the meat (if used) cooked through without being tough, the vegetables tender but not yet mushy, and the grains still holding their shape. As you might guess, the key to the one-pot meal is timing. Since most of us probably can’t recall the cooking times of quinoa or turnips at the drop of a hat, we’ve put together some useful recipes to help you out in the kitchen.

Tips:

  • Cutting your meat and vegetables into pieces will reduce the cooking time, but if you want to start with a large chicken breast, prepare for a longer cooking time. You can always add ingredients that cook more quickly once the chicken is halfway done.

  • Be mindful of different cooking times. Larger cuts of meat will take the longest to cook, along with root vegetables, depending on the size of the pieces. Some grains like brown rice will also take a long time. Herbs and spices can go in last. As can tender greens, such as spinach.

  • A squeeze of lemon before serving can go a long way for a note of bright acidity. A dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream can help soften the flavors of a soup or stew.

  • You should season your meat before cooking, and most recipes call for searing first–a little salt and pepper can go along way. Though careful to not overcrowd your pan while searing!

  • Make sure to season at every step of the way as you add more ingredients.

  • Making a stew or a soup will usually give you more leeway.