My Fave Fast Grain Sides

Meeehhhh back to work today for me! Anyone else? I’ve been enjoying sleeping in way too much, so the early morning hit me hard today. Overall, today was super busy, so it was hubby who was in charge of eats.


One of the reasons we eat these bread/toast/bagel and egg combos is because hubby is really comfortable making them. And they taste good. And hubby really likes them. Not to mention they’re simple, fast, and affordable. 🙂

I had leftover pot roast for lunch today – the same one I packed last night. Turns out I packed too large a container because I only ate half of the container. I’m saving the other half for tomorrow. 🙂


After work today, I went to Zuuuuumba! Class tonight was kickin! I guess there were a lot of people there working on fitness for their resolutions. I hope they had a good time and keep coming back. I think Zumba is a great workout that is easy to stick with because it’s just so fun! Anywho, I led Let Me Think About It and co-led: Alright and Lose Control.

And I even brought a special guest to class tonight! The wonderful Kelly of Foodie Fresh joined me for class tonight. I love it when my friends come to class to dance with me! I wish more could join in. I wish you could join in! How fun would a GIANT class of TCL Readers be??? 🙂


I didn’t get home from class till after 9, so hubby was in charge. He said he was going to go to the grocery store, but decided to just scrounge around the pantry and freezer for food instead. Here’s what he made: TJ’s frozen halibut, Amy’s bean and cheese bites, and corn. I asked him where the vegetable side was (because I like to include a vegetable with every lunch and dinner as much as possible) and he said “the corn!” I reminded him corn is a starch, not a veggie. hehe. But you have to give him props for putting dinner together since I was getting home so late. 🙂


For dessert, I had my very last coconut macaroon. *sad face* Guess I’ll have to make more! And if you want to taste this sweet, chewy ball of deliciousness, you can too! Check out my recipe for Irresistible Coconut Macaroons here.

My Fave Fast Grain Sides

Eat In Monthers and home-chefs who like quick dinners will love this section. Here are my favorite fast cooking grains and grain-based sides.


60 seconds to whole grains – I love these pre-cooked rice packages for when I need food in a hurry. I prefer to cook my rice in my rice cooker, but that can take 30-40 minutes and sometimes I don’t want to wait that long for food. Many grocery stores have these pre-cooked rice packages, but I think Trader Joe’s has the cheapest and best selection. I prefer to get the ones that aren’t flavored so I can control the salt levels, etc. I also like to choose the ones that have ingredient lists that only have “rice” on them. 🙂

Most of these rice sides can be cooked in the packaging, but since I’m weird about heating food up in plastic, I usually remove it to a dish at home before microwaving it.

I love brown rice for a simple side.


3-4 minute noodles – Next up – Udon and Soba noodles. Udon are wheat noodles while Soba are buckwheat. Depending on what brand you get, they’ll have various levels of whole grains (or none), but I still think they’re better than plain pasta. Not only that, but they cook up in 3-4 minutes. I like making quick noodle stir fries with these noodles, tofu/shrimp/chicken and LOTS of veggies with soy sauce and/or chicken broth. Mmm. In fact, my 3, 2, 1 Vegetarian Noodles are made with this side. You could also use them for a cold noodle salad side dish or put them in a brothy, Asian-style noodle soup.


5 minutes – Whole wheat cous cous is not only fast, but it takes very little effort to prepare. You basically just add it to boiling water or broth and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff, add spices and other flavoring. Done. Love that. You could use this in place of rice as a simple side.


15 minutes – Ok, so quinoa is a big jump in cook time, but I think meals that can be made in under 20 to 30 minutes are generally considered “fast.” Plus, I really like quinoa. They make a great substitution for rice or pasta as a side dish. Quinoa isn’t technically a grain, but it’s very similar. Quinoa also is a complete protein. I love quinoa for breakfast or as a replacement to rice or pasta as a side dish. Try my quinoa breakfast bowl or a fried egg over herbed quinoa for breakfast to freshen up your breakfast routine.

Eat In Month Quick Meal Ideas

Check out these 30 minutes or less recipes I found in the Discussion boards on my Facebook page:

Do you have a 30 minute or less recipe you’d like to share? Please post it on the 30 minute or less Discussion board here.

Here are some of my fave 30 minute or less recipes from TCL:

What are your favorite quick-cooking grain and grain-based sides?

26 thoughts on “My Fave Fast Grain Sides”

  1. I was surprised that I didn’t have trouble waking up after a week of waking up after 10am each morning! 😛

    I feel like quinoa takes longer than that… But I also just cook it in the rice cooker, so it takes its time.

    Most foods cook pretty quickly if you are stirfrying them.

  2. It would be great if you could explain how to cook quinoa in a post. I’m confused as to when they need to soak and when they don’t along with how to cook and know it’s ready. I’ve researched and some sites say soak; some say it’s not necessary. How do I know?

    • Good idea! I’ve never soaked mine. I do always rinse it though – this step is important. I think you can tell when it’s ready when the little tendril starts curling up. And the quinoa itself becomes tender. 🙂 A full post would be good, though.

  3. I totally forgot about noodles! Need to stock up my pantry, obviously. Hm I never buy those pre cooked rice packages I always feel they’re unhealthy, aren’t they? (side note, I’m not even sure we have brown rice variaties in Holland, I only see white rice)

    x sabine

    • I think the pre-cooked rice packages are bad because they’re: more processed, stored in plastic, and not as fresh. The ones I buy typically don’t have preservatives. The green one in the photos above have an ingredient list that is 1 thing: brown rice. 🙂 Love that! I like to make brown rice from scratch whenever possible, but these packages are nice when you’re short on time.

    • Actually, corn is a grain, not a “starchy veggie.” I only starting grasping this fact about a year or two ago as I was raised with the “if it came from our garden, it’s a vegetable” philosophy.

      But then I guess that also brings up the “anything with a seed is a fruit” debate as well! 😉

  4. “Corn is the vegetable!” Sounds like battles I have with my family! No potatoes are not a vegetable. No we do not need bread to go with our pasta! Yes that tiny glob is a single portion of guacamole. Oh well…not everyone has the same eating habits!

  5. Ahaha I always have to remind my mom that corn is a grain, and I only really grasped that fact starting a year or two ago. Anyway, my favorite go-to grain side is the Uncle Ben’s whole grain rice medleys that are microwaved in the pouch 🙂

    P.S. A TCL Zumbathon would be awesome, AND would check off one of your resolutions!


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