Eating together is among the top opportunities for family interactions and building family bonds. In fact, 53% of Americans realize that getting together as a family for at least one meal each day is important. Although 62% of parents and children under 18 hope to have more family dinners, most are unable to have more than three meals together per week due to our busy lives. Family meals not only improve family functioning but have a positive impact on the mental health of children and adolescents. Families with consistent mealtimes have better nutritional intake, and even the kids show better academic performance.

We understand that pulling off regular family meals isn’t easy. It does not just end with fixing a schedule and convincing everyone to eat together. You must carefully plan the entrée, main course, sides, and dessert, while balancing all the food preferences of the family. Preparing an elaborate meal can be time-consuming and exhausting, if done by an individual alone. Therefore, we have prepared a list of sides to pair with a wide variety of mains.

1. Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a no-fuss dish prepared with shredded cabbage and mayonnaise. You can choose apple cider vinegar, honey, maple syrup, sweet onion, or your favorite dressing as a topping. Shredded greens rolled in a layer of mayonnaise can complement any meal. Coleslaw is also preferred when family members have divergent taste preferences.

2. Seasoned Oven Fries

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants, turnips, carrots, can all go in a mix, or choose the vegetable you like best. For baking in the oven, fries need minimal fat, health watchers. That does not mean any compromise on taste though. Season them with your favorite herbs and complement your protein-rich mains for a balanced meal. Add a twist by topping them with an Italian herb mix or a cheesy dip to lift the flavors.

3. Mac and Cheese

Well, this one is a comfort food for all ages. Slices of bread, tender meat, juicy chicken, or fried bacon; a serving of mac-n-cheese compliments everything! Comfort food for chilly evenings or nostalgic reunions is best consumed warm with a dash of love. Our recommendation is to pair it with one-pot meals like Rotisserie chicken.

4. Marinated Tomatoes

Tomatoes marinated with basil, a little salt, lime juice, and onions are a great way to add color and flavor to meals. These are served best with buffets for large gatherings. You can order them in advance because the longer the tomatoes sit in the marinade, the better they taste. The important part is that any leftovers can be easily kept away to be consumed the next day.

5. Garlic Stirred Greens

Broccoli, beans, and asparagus are all foods that kids fuss about. But not in this case, stir-fried with burnt garlic and topped with a tangy dressing, the same vegetables vanish from the plate before you know it. Packed with vitamins, they are easy bites to be served with or before the main course. 

6. Choco-Chip Cookies

Who can resist choco-chip cookies? Ordered and stored easily, they double up as dessert with a dollop of cream. Of course, they are an all-time favorite snack with a glass of milk. You can never have enough of them!

The sides are ready! Now all you need to do is schedule your family meal and enjoy quality time together.

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