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The humble sheet pan gets a clever redesign

Prepd’s new baking sheets prompted me to think outside the box.

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It’s not a secret how much I dislike cooking. In grad school, I used my oven as a filing cabinet; as an adult, I use UberEats so frequently, I’ve achieved platinum status. When I was pregnant, I decided to start cooking occasionally so my daughter would know what a home-cooked meal tasted like. This has largely involved throwing meat on one baking sheet, vegetables on another, then sticking them in the oven.

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But Prepd, a cookware startup founded by Christopher Place, has developed a sheet pan system that promises to elevate my humble dinners and make it more efficient to cook meals with multiple ingredients. The new product is called Cheat Sheets, which seems appropriate for a slacker home cook like myself.

[Photo: Prepd]
The product is deceptively simple and, as far as I can tell, nothing like it exists on the market. It consists of a set of four silicone trays—two long rectangles and two smaller squares—that you put on top of a sheet pan so you can cook several different ingredients at once. The product launched on Kickstarter this week and is priced at $39 for backers. (It will ultimately cost $59.) The set will also come with a roasting guide that instructs you on how to cook a wide range of foods at 425 degrees, with details on when to take each item out. For instance, leave eggplant in for 20 minutes but carrots in for 45.

Prepd sent me some silicone trays to test out. It’s supposed to come with an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet, but they’re still in production, so I used a half sheet that I had, which worked fine. (The product, which has already raised half a million dollars from more than 6,000 backers, is scheduled to ship later this year.)

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[Photo: Prepd]

Having segmented spaces forced me to think about what to put in each one. It seemed boring to make the same vegetable in all three compartments, so I went to see what else I had in the fridge. I’m not the most creative cook in the world, so I used the image on Prepd’s website as inspiration. I put salmon and asparagus in the long, rectangular trays and cherry tomatoes and cut potatoes in the small square trays, and took them out at different times. The outcome was delicious. The additional ingredients added more color and flavor to dinner, and it was just the right portion for my three-person family. (My 4-year-old refused to eat any of the vegetables, but what can you do?)

For experienced cooks or those making food for big groups, this probably isn’t a necessary tool. After all, it is essentially a more expensive baking sheet. But for my purposes, it was incredibly useful. It can also save time. For instance, on fajita night, you can roast steak, peppers, and tortillas together, removing each ingredient when it’s done, instead of cooking each separately. Or if you have picky eaters, you can segment out different preparations: spicy BBQ chicken in one divider, plain chicken in the other. And as a bonus, the silicone is easy to clean, so you don’t have to spend hours scrubbing burnt food off your baking pans.

Prepd’s first product, a $59 lunchbox, had a similar modular concept. The idea was that the distinct containers would encourage you to think more creatively about what to pack for lunch. In both cases, the products are designed to help you diversify your meals. And for someone like me, who needs all the help I can get, that little nudge goes a long way toward making my dinners more interesting.

About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a senior staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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