The Value of Side Dishes


I am not a fan of cooking. I have never wanted to bake a lasagna from scratch or spend more than a half hour preparing a meal. This can make preparing three meals a day challenging and expensive. Meals used to be expensive because I bought lots of prepackaged foods to save time and my sanity.

Side Dishes

Recently, I have discovered a hack to creating fast, healthy, tasty meals that can lead to leftovers (less cooking for me): side dishes. Because I am not a fan of cooking, in the past, I would only focus on one main dish. That would be enough to feed us all, but there were little to no leftovers. That meant no break from cooking with leftover nights, lunches or breakfasts.

Summer Ideas

I know, you’re thinking more dishes means more cooking. Sometimes. For me, it mostly means a little more chopping or washing. For summer, my side dishes are fresh veggies and fruit. Most nights, I cut up avocados, strawberries, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, kiwi, peaches, plums, oranges, pineapple, etc.

I usually pick one or two to set out with whatever main dish I have managed to create. I do not add any sauce, but I might sprinkle some salt, pepper, or a dash of lemon or lime juice, if I feel fancy. Ranch or another dressing is usually on the table to dip in any veggies or fruits, as desired. These side dishes are fast, healthy and easy. When we have sides, we usually have leftovers of the main dish (to be used on other days I do not want to cook).

Winter Ideas

I use many of the same dishes in the winter. For some of the veggies (like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, asparagus, etc.), I coat them lightly in olive oil, add salt, pepper, and/or veggie blend spice (maybe some crushed garlic or parmesan) and cook them in the oven until soft and buttery (10 to 30 minutes). I also make easy sauces out of berries by chopping them cooking them on the stove or in the microwave (great for frozen berries). I do not usually add anything except a little water or cinnamon. When it is cold, a hot side or sauce can help warm up everyone.

These are some of my fast, easy, healthy, and little to no cooking ideas for sides. Your family will enjoy these delicious foods, while you enjoy the short prep and cook time. Hopefully this will lead to more main leftovers to enjoy on clean-out-the-fridge night (less cooking). What are some of your ideas for fast, easy, and healthy side dishes?

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I am married to a wonderful cook named Bret(Thank goodness because I love to eat but not cook). I have two boys that started Kindergarten and Pre-school this year. I am thankful they are fed at school as they try to eat us out of house and home. We love to hike, game, swim, watch Bluey and anything with Superheroes and read. Currently, I teach history at Southern New Hampshire University online. Summer and Fall are my favorite seasons as I love the heat but also watching the leaves change and the nights turn crisp. Halloween and Christmas are my favorite holidays, and my house is decorated from September to the New Year.


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