The Art of Simple Skillet Dinners

Need dinner on the table fast? Make healthy and delicious meals using just a skillet! Read more about this method by reading this article at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Lack of time or energy for cooking can be the death knell for healthy eating. We’ve had a year like no other, and developing strategies for quick, healthy meals has been essential. (Read about my new series: The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking)

Enter skillet dinners. Oh, how I love thee, skillet dinners.

7 Reasons I Love Skillet Meals

  • They are fast
  • They are frugal
  • They use up leftovers
  • They are easy to make
  • You don’t need a specific recipe to conquer them
  • They are healthy and vegetable-centered
  • You can use whatever you like to flavor them

This one-skillet dinner has been a true help. They are wildly adaptable to what you have in the fridge, and you can flavor them however you like. Ginger and garlic, dried herbs, fresh herbs, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, green onions, regular onions, red onions, and more!

In my last post, I shared how we have been using pre-washed and cut vegetables on a consistent basis and how much time and how many dinners they have saved. Skillet dinners are one of the most common ways we use prepped vegetables.

Need dinner on the table fast? Make healthy and delicious meals using just a skillet! Read more about this method by reading this article at The Nourishing Gourmet.


Dinner can be as simple as this: Heating some oil in a large pan, and sautéing together a package or two of prepared vegetables with a pound of ground meat (any kind you like), or adding leftover shredded meat after the vegetables are cooked. Serve with roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, or throw some leftover rice or quinoa into the pan as well, and dinner is served.

While the below options are meat-centric, I see no reason why you couldn’t use cooked beans or lentils instead. In fact, a lentil centered skillet dinner sounds fabulous.

What is essential to this dish is a very large skillet. I favor our largest cast iron pan. And when I say large, I mean large. I use a 12 inch cast iron pan which is adequate for our five member family, but I’d even like a bigger one eventually.

Some combinations we’ve liked:

  • Shredded cabbage with beef (add garlic and salt and pepper to flavor) served with rice or quinoa.
  • Vegetable Pork Skillet Dinner: Onions, Mushrooms, garlic, dried herbs, with pork and bacon.
  • Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Chicken: Cauliflower “rice” with celery, green onions, ginger, garlic, grated carrots, and chicken.
  • Gingery Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry: Ground meat of choice, broccoli, mushrooms, ginger, and garlic.
  • Leftover Fried Rice: Onions, broccoli, and cauliflower mix, leftover shredded roast, leftover rice
  • Every day Skillet Dinner: Onions, Zucchini, mushrooms, meat of choice or eggs
  • Extra Greens Skillet: Onions, greens, meat of choice, seasoning of choice

Really, there are no limits to skillet dinners. One of my recent favorite combinations was one in which I used bits and pieces of leftover bags of vegetables which made a delicious and coherent dinner. Skillet dinners can be a great way to use leftovers and the odds and ends you have in your refrigerator!

Do you make similar dishes? I’d love to hear your favorite combination!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Alicia says

    Ok here’s a super simple breakfast, lunch or dinner skillet dish – and SO delicious:
    A bag of pre-prepared coleslaw (shredded cabbage and carrots) sautéed in olive or coconut oil for 5 minutes or so. Add about a tablespoon of light soy sauce or coconut aminos and let it caramelize a bit. Break 4 -6 eggs over, let the whites set a bit before stirring them, then stir the egg yolks through without cooking them too much.
    You have to try it to see how easy and tasty it is.

  2. Heather says

    Thank you so much for this post today!! I had no idea what I was serving for dinner, super low energy, and on he verge of letting the kids finish off some Halloween candy. After reading your encouragement for skillet dinners. I pulled out a bunch of leftover containers and found brown rice, pulled pork, and mushrooms (hidden among many containers of food that should have been thrown out a week ago). I also chopped up some onion and garlic, and threw it all together with some butter and vegetable broth in an iron skillet (I always have some kind of organic broth base in the fridge) . With salt and pepper, this was a dinner I was happy to eat and serve knowing we were all getting some protein and veggies, and in a home cooked meal no less!

    • says

      Heather, that’s wonderful! It makes me so happy that it inspired you to make your own delicious meal with what you had on hand. <3 Thanks so much for sharing that with me!

  3. says

    I love a good one skillet meal. Last night I made a one skillet meal that took under 15 minutes, contained all real food and tasted like good take-out! I simply sautéed minced garlic in olive oil for thirty seconds, threw in some raw diced up chicken that I seasoned with salt and pepper, added some green beans after a few minutes of the chicken browning and added frozen brown rice and a drizzle of soy sauce for the last 7 minutes. Delicious!

    Katie @

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