These 15 easy healthy side dishes can turn basic chicken into a great meal. Gluten free, veggie-packed and EASY enough for any weeknight.
We all get in a cooking rut from time to time. Part of it is time constraints – who has time to find new recipes every week?? And part of it is just mental fatigue. I think it's fair to say that I love cooking and meal planning more than most, but even I don't always feel like thinking through what to feed my family, yet again.
Today I've rounded up 15 of my favorite, incredibly easy, healthy side dishes for those weeks when you just don't want to think about it. Pair one or two of these sides with a protein and you're good to go!
The best part? All of these make great meal prep sides. I'll walk you through how to prep each one ahead of time to make dinner time stress-free.
(Pssst. If you really don't want to think about what's for dinner, make sure to try our done-for-you meal prep meal plans with a free trial!)
15 Easy Healthy Side Dishes
This side dish is perfect to keep in your back pocket for those days when your fridge is bare and you have no time to grocery shop. All of the ingredients come straight from your pantry or freezer!
Herbes de Provence elevate this super simple side for a little something special despite how easy it is. This is also a great way to encourage kids to eat kale, as it's mixed with an ingredient most kids love, corn.
This side honestly comes together so quickly it doesn't need to be prepped ahead BUT you can totally make the whole thing ahead of time so it's ready to go if you like.
Kale is starring in yet another healthy side dish, this time alongside goat cheese. This is delicious served with chicken, as in the photo, but you can also serve with pork chops, salmon or whatever protein you have on hand!
All you have to do is saute 2 bunches of chopped kale and one clove of minced garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes and then toss with 4 oz crumbled goat cheese.
To prep ahead, mince the garlic and store it in the fridge and chop and store the kale.
I'm the kind of person who eats soup all year long and this is one I love keeping in the rotation.
This soup is delicious with a simple green salad, topped with chicken or shrimp if you like.
You can make this whole soup ahead of time OR, what I recommend, make a double batch and freeze half. This freezes super well and it feels so good to be able to pull homemade soup out on a hectic day.
Salad does not have to be boring and one of the easiest ways to keep it interesting is to adapt for the seasons. This winter kale salad is perfect for those cold nights when your typical crisp salad may not sound appealing. My harvest kale salad is another great choice in fall or winter.
Kale salads are also SO good for meal prep because they actually get better within a few days.
On the flip side, in the hotter months, this watermelon, feta & arugula salad hits the spot! I actually love it so much that we served it at our wedding 🙂
Any basic salad with this strawberry vinaigrette is refreshing in the spring and summer months as well.
This “pasta” salad is made with zoodles and is totally packed with veggies! You can easily top with grilled chicken to make it a complete meal or serve alongside whatever protein you pull from your freezer.
You can also do half zoodles and half actual noodles if you like.
To prep ahead, chop all of the veggies and make the lemon basil sauce. OR, assemble the entire dish so it's ready to go.
Sometimes the best sides really are the simplest. Don't be afraid to simply serve a beautifully roasted vegetable along with steak or fish or simple drumsticks.
I like to cut the tops off of the butternut squash and cube and then roast the bottom, bulbous part whole. It's delicious this way and requires much less chopping! You can also roast the whole thing, without chopping anything, except slicing the butternut squash in half lengthwise. It will require some serious oven time but you can just pop it in at the beginning of your meal prep session.
If you think you don't like radishes, you must try them sautéed! They have none of the bitter taste of raw radishes. They look beautiful on the plate and taste great!
To meal prep, slice the radishes and store them in the fridge until you're ready to cook.
Do you cook with smoked paprika?
It's the secret to this delicious roasted cauliflower and I highly recommend adding it to your spice cabinet if you don't already use it. It adds so much depth of flavor and is so simple!
To meal prep, chop the cauliflower ahead of time and store in the fridge so it's ready to toss in the oven the day you wish to serve.
Grilling veggies takes what can be a boring side to the next level. Just rub with a little olive oil and add whatever spices you please! I love it with a few shakes of red pepper flakes.
You can slice the zucchini ahead of time as part of your weekly meal prep to make this side truly easy.
I love sugar snap peas raw but it's nice to mix it up sometimes. Steaming for just a couple of minutes really brings out the naturally sweet flavor. Plus they take on such a lovely, bright color with a bit of steaming!
You can steam ahead of time and enjoy with simple dinners throughout the week.
This post includes a recipe for a salad with balsamic roasted beets, which is completely delicious, but you can also serve the roasted beets on their own. If you think you don't like beets, I definitely recommend trying them roasted!
Simply dice the beets in 1/2″ cubes, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast at 375F for 40-45 minutes.
To meal prep, you can chop the beets ahead of time OR go ahead and roast them ahead of time so they're totally ready to go.
I know beets can be a bit intimidating so I recorded a short video on how to chop beets here!
With just six ingredients, this cabbage and apples is great with pork, but you could also serve with grilled chicken. The apples give this dish a natural sweetness that makes it appealing to kids and adults alike.
Chop the cabbage to prep ahead, or prepare the entire side dish ahead for a low stress meal later in the week!
14. Roasted Veggies w/ Chimichurri
This chimichurri sauce has been SUCH a hit with our Prep Dish subscribers. It's honestly good on anything, but if you want a side dish that feels a little bit special, serve whatever roasted (or grilled!) veggie you like with a drizzle of chimichurri sauce.
This sauce also freezes very well so do yourself a favor and make a double batch to freeze!
My summer quinoa salad can actually serve as a main dish but it makes a great easy, healthy side dish as well!
You can easily mix up the veggies to adapt for each season too. Swap the tomatoes for butternut squash for a tasty fall or winter variation.
I hope you find a new favorite among these easy healthy side dishes! If you want to keep the whole dinner routine super simple, serve one or two of these sides with any of these proteins that require nothing but salt and pepper to be totally delicious. And don't forget, you can try my meal prep meal plans for free!