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How many dinner sides do you usually prepare?

Sorry If this has been posted--- I've looked but can't find quite what I want.

How many sides for dinner do you usually prepare? Or how do you decide what to fix with what ever your main dish is?

Growing up my mom always did a meat and three type thing. Now that I'm grown I find myself reverting back to that even though I don't necessarily want too. I'm in a cooking rut and can't get out!!

Also-- When you prepare a heavier/substantial side dish what is your usual entree pairing?

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  1. When my immediate family (husband, children, mother) were here we were five. Now that everyone has dispersed to different places it's just my husband and I. Then I would cook a main, and 2 or 3 side dishes, plus a salad. Sometimes I served a bread basket but more often didn't, especially if I were serving a starch. The sides were vegetables such as beets, greens, squashes, and then a second dish such as potatoes, rice, beans. If I were cooking a macaroni dish I would serve only a salad with it. (I usually made a meat-less sauce, and still do.)

    Now I usually serve a main and one vegetable and sometimes a third dish or salad. We like to cook different Asian cuisines and then there might be several different dishes as time allows but always rice or noodles. But, the majority of our meals are "Italian" since that's my heritage. My side dishes are not "heavier" than the main dish.

    I don't really have a set of rules for planning the menu, but tend to make my meals vegetable-centric. Lots of vegetables and much less meat. I believe side dishes should enhance or compliment the main dish, not compete with it, but that's just me.

    Cooking food that your family likes to eat but trying to keep it healthy and nutritious can be a chore but it can be fun too because there's so many different fruits and vegetables to discover. It's also fun to experiment...

    1. We have anywhere from 0 to 5. If it is a special chicken soup, or beef stew (one pot meals) then nothing.
      Tonight Chicken parts on the bbq, some black beans, rice , a relish of onions, tomato, lime juice & EVOO...so that is 3 sides.
      Three factors go into my our decision when considering sides:
      What is in the house?
      What is the cuisine of the night?
      How much time do we have to shop and prepare?

      When I get into a cooking rut, I will go back to things I have not made in a long time. Such as breakfast for dinner. Wraps or tacos with left over proteins in the fridge or freezer, nothing too facny, even some frozen ravoli with a quick marinara meatless sauce with a green salad. This helps so I can get my mojo back..at least for me!

      1. Usually a carb plus one or two vegetables.

        But it's obviously dependent on the cuisine or style that we're cooking.

        How to decide what to cook? Generally speaking, we like to cook locally grown, seasonal vegetables. Get's to be a challenge during the winter in our climate. And in the summer as well, sometimes.

        1. Short answer: Fewer and fewer. Partly this came from noticing that the Italian Pranzo (sequence of courses) has only one Contourni (side dish), partly from going low-carb, obviating the need for starch. Occasionally, I will cook two side dishes if one is easy to cook, but mostly I cook one green veg and plenty of it. And flavor it highly (Parmesan, herbs) so it not a dreary green obligation.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mwhitmore

            We are low-carb too, so we tend to do the same thing - meat is the centerpiece, with one or two vegetable sides (which are sometimes really part of the main - i.e. steak caesar salad, mapo tofu over broccoli, etc.).

            1. re: biondanonima

              Here too, my meals are usually a heaping dose of meat with a near heaping dose of a vegetable side or as you mentioned part of the dish - tuna steaks on sauteed spinach, chicken and asparagus stir fry. If not part of a dish I usually pick a favorite veg and prep which suits whatever meat I'm cooking. If something is going in the oven it's usually with roasted asparagus or broccoli, string beans and collards for long slow prep meals, etc.

          2. Our dinner typically has servings of one animal protein (but not always), one starch, and one green/non-starchy vegetable, Alhough that often means that there are 2 side dishes, alongside a meat/fish protein main dish, that is not always the case since sometimes one or more of those items are combined into a single dish. For example, sometimes I'll cook risotto, which will be the only dish served, as it includes mushrooms, a green vegetable (asparagus, green beans, or broccoli), and shrimp. Or, we might have a mac & cheese, with ham "main dish", and a tossed green salad on the side. Or stew or a hearty soup, which combines items from all of those food groups. Last night, along side poached fish, I served a single side that was a "medley" of potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and red peppers -- i.e., the starch and "green" vegetables in a single side dish. And, sometimes there will be more than 2 sides -- e.g., we'll serve applesauce or sautéed mushrooms, as an additional side, besides a starch and a green vegetable.