Meal planning and cooking dinner each night can certainly be a challenge. Between the planning, the shopping, and then the actual cooking, it can be a lot.
One of the struggles I face with meal planning is coming up with side dishes that aren’t repetitive.
“… rice and broccoli, carrots and mashed potatoes, back to rice and… maybe corn, salad is different, now broccoli and pasta, then green beans and…rice?! There are other options right??”
So then I try to make mostly recipes that include the sides and vegetables in them. Things like crockpot meals or lasagna (tomato sauce counts as a full serving of vegetables in my book). But eventually I end up with repetitive meals that way too and go back to trying to pair a protein with a vegetable and starch.
Struggling with meal planning? Check out my Fall Dinner Challenge! In this challenge I will help you lay the foundation for the steps that will make meal planning simple and easy.
Finally I said to myself “Why don’t I just make a big list of all the ideas for sides and vegetables we like and the different ways to cook them?!” And then I said to myself, “You’re a genius!” 😉
Then I decided to expand this list even more, include all the things my husband and I don’t eat but you might, and share this giant list with you!
The completed list will be in my library of free resources that you can access by signing up for my email newsletter. Along with this massive list you’ll also have access to my other money saving printables and get the awesome bonus content in the previously mentioned newsletter.
If you don’t like free or awesome stuff keep scrolling for an overview of the side dish ideas.
Side dish inspiration:
Veggies can be steamed, roasted (my favorite option!), sautéed, grilled, stir fried, made into a salad, or served with a sauce. A super simple side is a package of frozen vegetables poured out onto a cookie sheet, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder then roasted at a high heat ( 400- 425 degrees Fahrenheit) to your liking. Corn, broccoli, green beans, and lima beans all work well as does a package of baby carrots. No prep needed!
Salad can mean a huge variety of things; Caesar, Italian, cobb, wedge, kale, spinach, even corn or black bean. Not all salads need to be leafy green based!
Rice and other grains can be seasoned in many ways. A spoonful or two of pesto goes a long way in rice or couscous. Quinoa tastes great with Mexican flavors. My favorite way to season couscous is with lemon juice and parmesan or feta.
Pasta and tomato or alfredo sauce does not need to be reserved for the main dish role.
Sweet potatoes can be baked, roasted, in French fry form, or made into a casserole.
White potatoes come in many varieties and can be served in many ways as well- baked, roasted, scalloped, hasselback, as fries, hashbrowns, or tatertots.
Noodles can also be seasoned with pesto, lemon juice and parmesan, Italian dressing, Asian style seasonings, or even just butter and salt and pepper.
Bread gives many options for sides: rolls, garlic bread, toast, croissants, garlic knots, biscuits, crackers.
Lastly, one option I always forget is fruit! Fruit can totally be a side for dinner!
For more inspirations, check out my Pinterest board titled “Side Dishes.”
I hope this list gives you many ideas and makes meal planning just a little easier for you as it has for me! For more help meal planning sign up for my Fall Dinner Challenge!
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