A couple of  generations ago, casseroles were the weeknight meal of choice when you needed to get dinner on the table with a minimum of dishes to do afterward. Skillet and sheet-pan meals are our modern-day version, minus the omnipresent tin of condensed soup that bind noodles, meat and veg together in creamy, salty deliciousness.

Heavy sheet pans and parchment allow for all manner of ingredients to bake or roast together — meat, fish, potatoes and other veggies, grouped according to baking time or added to the sheet as required — with minimal clean-up. Sheet pans are large enough — especially compared with a standard 9×13-inch Pyrex baking dish — for hot air to flow around your food and help them roast evenly. Similarly, a large skillet — cast iron or not —makes quick work of ground meat, chops, chicken breasts or thighs without even needing to preheat your oven. Since the pandemic has inspired many of us to seek out nostalgia, particularly in the form of our childhood dinners, here are a few you may have grown up with, in various forms, and are worth making a comeback.

Check out Julie’s other recipes in our ode to the meat-eater series: Pan Sausage & Pierogi and Crispy Chicken Schnitzel.

Sloppy Joes

I adored sweet-tangy sloppy Joes as a kid, and I still love them — they can be made with any kind of ground meat, sausage, even plant-based substitutes.
Servings 4
Author Julie Van Rosendaal


  • Olive or canola oil, for cooking
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 lb ground beef or sausage, (bison, turkey, chicken, or ground plant-based protein can also be used to replace beef) (.45 kg or 500 grams)
  • 1-2 cups tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (250-500 ml)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup (80ml)
  • 2 tbsp cider or red wine vinegar (30 ml)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (30 ml)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 soft buns, cheesebuns, or biscuits


  • Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes, until soft.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the beef or sausage, squeezed out of its casing, and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is no longer pink.
  • Add the tomato sauce (more or less depending on how saucy you like it), ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  • Split the buns or biscuits in half and ladle the meat mixture on top.