5 Quick Weeknight Sides to Make Life Easy

On busy weeknights turn to these five options for quick, easy, and delicious side dishes. From sautéed greens to quick mashed potatoes, we've got you covered!

Quick Easy Side Dishes

This post is sponsored by Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes.

It can be challenging enough to get a decent main dish on the dinner table on busy weeknights -- who has time to even think about sides?

We're here to help. You can have your sides and eat them too. When time is short, keep these five options for quick, easy, and delicious side dishes in mind.

Sauteed Spinach Recipe
Easy Sautéed Spinach.

1. Sautéed Greens

When it comes to quick and easy sides, it doesn't come much quicker or easier than sautéed greens. Better yet, they're full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and they pair well with almost any main dish -- an all-around winning choice!

All you need to do is choose a leafy green vegetable -- spinach, kale and Swiss chard are rather mild in flavor, while mustard and collard greens tend to be more bitter -- strip out any thick stems, chop the leaves and cook them in a little oil until they're wilted.

Make them as simply as that or if you're up for something with a little more pizzazz, try these recipes:

Idaho Instant Mashed Potatoes

2. Quick Mashed Potatoes

Yes, you can enjoy mashed potatoes on a weeknight! Idahoan Mashed Potatoes make it possible to have delicious, homemade taste on demand – no peeling, boiling, or mashing required.

If you haven’t tried Idahoan Mashed Potatoes before, give them a go – especially if you’re short on time. Idahoan Mashed Potatoes are made with 100% real Idaho potatoes so they’re real potatoes, real easy, and a great choice for busy nights.

Try them alongside these quick weeknight mains:

French Lentil Salad Recipe
Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables.

3. Lentils

Keep dried lentils on hand and you'll be ready for easy, satisfying sides year-round, from lentil salads in the summer to piping hot simmered lentils in the winter.

A type of pulse, like beans and chickpeas, lentils are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. They have an earthy flavor on their own and tend to absorb flavors from other foods.

They freeze well so you can make a big batch and reheat them whenever you want to incorporate them into a main or a side.

Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots
Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots.

4. Couscous

Is pasta your usual go-to side? Switch things up and try couscous for a change. Now couscous technically is also a type of pasta, originating in North Africa, but its texture is more like a grain.

It's impossibly easy to cook the type of couscous that we commonly find in the grocery store, as it's an instant version that has already been steamed and dried. All you have to do is stir it into boiling water or broth (a 1:1 ratio of liquid to couscous is generally about right), close the lid, and wait for the couscous to absorb the liquid, a matter of minutes.

For a Moroccan-inspired couscous side, try this recipe:

Roasted Broccolini with Creamy Mustard Sauce
Roasted Broccolini with Creamy Mustard Sauce.

5. Roasted Vegetables

"Wait a minute. Don't vegetables take a long time to roast in the oven?"

Not necessarily! You can roast softer, smaller vegetables -- such as asparagus, broccoli, and green beans -- in under 30 minutes, and that's mostly hands-off time. While your vegetables are roasting in the oven you can prepare the rest of your meal. Multitasking at its best.

The easiest way to roast most vegetables is to toss them with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast them at 425°F until they're tender, toasty, and crisp. A little char is often a good thing!

Try these quick and tasty roasted vegetable sides: