After I finish detailing my favorite healthy side dishes to serve my family, you are going to be so unimpressed and bored that you will fall asleep on the spot. This post is like a lullaby, sung sweetly to you after you’ve had a warm bath and a mug of milk. Pin this post. You will want it to refer back to on the nights you’re anxious to relax and have a good night’s sleep.
See, the thing is that I’ve simplified my real food kitchen life so much during the past few years that I barely think about or plan ahead for side dishes anymore. Do I serve them? Absolutely! In fact, I serve at least 2 if not 4 side dish options at almost every lunch or dinner. But here’s my trick:
I set out a variety of fruits and vegetables based on what I have and what will offer healthy options for my family to choose from.
That’s it. I rarely mash a potato anymore. For me, side dishes are no longer something that require much work. There is no time!! The main dish gets my attention and the side dishes are a variety of fruits and veggies that make our plates pretty and offer oodles of nourishment.
Every once in a while I go all out and steam some broccoli and carrots. Phew. Big day. Otherwise, I do something like wash some berries, slice some pears, and throw some frozen peas in a pot to cook (which they do all by themselves in about 4 minutes).
More often than not, prepping the side dishes is the job I hand my boys. “Peel 6 clementines.” “Cook some green beans, please.” “Wash the raspberries.”
Do you see how easy this is? Side dishes at our house get pulled out of the fridge or freezer just a few minutes before the meal is served. They take very little prep, yet they are the most nourishing part of our meal. Side dishes are almost always served in the container they came in or the pot they were steamed in. In case you’re wondering why I ask a boy to peel clementines when we could all just peel our own (which we do sometimes) – it’s this.
You might also be interested in another post I wrote recently about How to Easily Add Fruits and Veggies to a Meal.
Healthy, easy side dishes come down to these three rules at my house:
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season and affordable. (You can’t serve ’em if you don’t buy ’em.)
- Keep frozen veggies in the freezer ready to steam quickly before a meal.
- Be intentional about offering a variety of these goodies with every meal.
Every week, I buy big containers of mixed greens and fresh baby spinach. Boom. We have salad.
I buy whatever berries are on sale, which we wash and plop on the table. I buy grape tomatoes in season (or grow them when it isn’t -3°). I buy apples and pears, which can be washed and sliced in 30 seconds. I buy heads of broccoli, big bags of carrots, and lovely cucumbers – all of which can be prepared for cooking or served raw in just a few minutes. I always have jars of homemade applesauce or homemade pickles to pull out.
Below are some pictures I came across that show the variety of easy side dishes I serve. Notice how little prep these took:
And there you have it. Nothing terribly exciting – just simple side dishes that our family eats regularly. We get a variety, we get plenty of nourishment, we don’t wear ourselves out making the prep work tedious. That works for me!
So what works for you? What are your favorite side dishes?