Alright, so chicken is on sale, you have your cravings for taco casserole and there’s leftover soup in the freezer and you’re finishing your weekly menu: grilled chicken, casserole, soup, pizza.. what about sides?
Side dishes should add extra nutrients as well as variety in color and texture. White chicken with white mashed potatoes and white cauliflower may be nutritionally sound, but it looks pretty boring and bland. Same with salmon, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Usually people expect to see a meat, vegetable, and starch, but even these rules are changing.
It’s also good to remember how much time you have on hand to make them before deciding on something more time-consuming like scalloped potatoes.
So back to our menu above…what would I add?
Grilled chicken with sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli…I microwave the sweet potatoes and do the broccoli in a steamer. Then why not grill some extra and have grilled chicken on top of bagged salad for dinner on day 2?
Taco casserole has the starch, meat, and a little veggie in already, so a side salad can add color and can cool the spice.
What to serve with soup? If it’s a hearty soup like chili, consider a side salad to lighten the meal up. If it’s a lighter soup like minestrone, cheese and crackers, or a crusty garlic bread round it out nicely.
Pizza is usually a finger food, and serving a veggie platter keeps the whole dinner silverware-free. If you do, try making your own ranch dressing out of yogurt, onion powder, garlic, parsley, and salt rather than the high-fat and additive dips dips that are usually served with veggies. I always like salad with pizza too.
I always have a variety of frozen veggies in the freezer because they make such versatile sides. Additionally, keeping some bagged salads in the fridge and potatoes and sweet potatoes in the pantry, as well as some brown rice, ensures that whatever I serve, I have a simple, healthy side dish to go alongside.