What Is the Definition of a One-Dish Meal?

A one-dish meal contains a balanced proportion of the recommended daily allowances from each of the major food groups. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a full meal includes a protein source, grain, fruits or vegetables, dairy and healthy fats. One-dish meals provide the daily requirements in a simplified format.

One-dish meals take the form of casseroles, skillet meals, soups, salads and crock-pot meals. Healthy versions of one-dish meals contain lean cuts of meat, chicken, tuna or non-animal proteins. A grain such as rice, pasta or bread often serves as a base. Salad and soup one-dish meals typically have more vegetables than grains. Examples of one-dish meals include tuna or vegetable casseroles, beef stew, chef salads, savory pies and hearty soups.

The specific balance of the ingredients in a one-dish meal depends on the meal category. Breakfast, lunch and dinner each have slightly different recommendations. The USDA recommends a high-protein breakfast for children and adults. Proper one-dish meals for breakfast include eggs or lean meats in a larger proportion than grains. Quiche, egg casseroles and protein-rich hashes are examples of one-dish breakfast meals. One-dish lunch and dinner meals contain protein and usually have higher proportions of grains and vegetables.