Baking and roasting in the oven are important parts of my meal preparation. During an average week I cook as many meals, or parts of them, in the oven as on the stove. Breads, muffins and quick-breads are impossible without an oven. Complete one-pot healthy whole food meals are a snap with the right baking pans and make clean-up and serving fast and easy.
Just a few types of baking pans and tools allow a wide range of food to be prepared. Almost all baking tools serve multiple purposes and are inexpensive, making them good investments for any kitchen. Following are some of the baking tools I use regularly in my quest to eat a healthy whole food diet.
My first choice for oven use would be a standard bread baking loaf pan. It will bake a great loaf of sandwich bread and it will also do much more. I use my loaf pans more often for meatloaf than for bread. These pans also work well for pasta casseroles, baked polenta, vegetable terrines, lasagna and many more. They are especially good when multiple uniform portions are needed as whatever is in them can be sliced as if it were bread. The loaf pan is a very versatile baking tool and mine get used often.
A covered casserole or dutch oven
Covered casseroles excel, of course, at all types of baked casseroles such as macaroni and cheese. They are also great for baked stews. Any braised dish like oxtails or lamb shanks can also be easily done in a covered casserole. I use this particular casserole as a baking vessel for my rustic bread loaves(the lid allows development of a fantastic crust). This type of ceramic casserole is the best because it can also be used on the stove.