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5-Ingredient Side Dishes for a Stress-Free Memorial Day Celebration

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Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, and for many people across the country, that means one thing: cookout time! Anyone with a grill and a yard can host some friends to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, so why not be one of them? If you’re like me, however, you spend the entire morning running around like crazy trying to get all of the food cut, prepped, and cooked in time for the start of the party. Even after my guests arrive, I’m often racing back and forth to finish a dish or replenish some appetizer or side that has already been eaten. I hardly have time to enjoy myself or the company of my guests. Before I know it, the sun has set, and I’m cleaning up empty bottles and dirty plates while my husband cleans the grill.

This year, I have promised myself, things will be different. And it can be for you, too. But how? People still need to eat, and someone has to make all of that food! I have decided to limit my side dishes to FIVE ingredients this Memorial Day. How involved can any recipe be if there are only five ingredients in it? My hope is that by cutting back on how much stuff I need to cut and cook, I’ll actually be able to enjoy the party that my husband and I will work so hard to throw. What’s the point otherwise, right?

These recipes below are a little different than the normal cookout options. But they’re delicious, fun, and will take you no time to prepare. Enjoy, and Happy Memorial Day!

Parmesan Ranch Corn

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Doesn’t that just sound scrumptious?! Yes, lots of people serve corn on the cob at these types of gatherings. But if you want to have a little more fun with your corn (and don’t mind a few extra calories), you’ll certainly enjoy this dish.

Mexican Brown Rice

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You only need 15 minutes for this one (and it can definitely be made ahead of time). It will be flavorful, easy, and great to eat either with a fork or with a corn chip as a “dip.” If you want to break the five-ingredient rule here, you can jazz it up with some fresh cilantro and avocado. (Those will only add a few seconds to the prep time.) The beauty of this recipe is that it makes good use of prepared salsa — the magical condiment that adds tons of flavor.

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

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All you really need to say is “bacon” and it should be a done deal. You were probably going to make potato salad anyway, right? So why not take this route? Hopefully, no one will be watching their waistline at your party, because this particular dish doesn’t hold back. But it is goooooooooood.

Pasta Salad

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This is another dish that you probably might have considered making anyway, but perhaps didn’t want to because of all the chopping you would have to do. Look no further, because there are some genius shortcuts in this recipe. Jarred pesto and roasted peppers add unbeatable flavor, handfuls of arugula add tangy freshness, and cubes of mozzarella round out the dish beautifully. Say goodbye to your old pasta salad recipe, because you probably won’t ever use it again.

Strawberry Salsa

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Everyone is going to have salsa at their cookout. And most will probably just pop open a jar of whatever they find in the chip aisle. This is where your chips and dip will stand out. With strawberry salsa, you’ll get tons of points for innovation and flavor. Your friends might even think it was super complicated to make. But only you and I will know that your delicious and refreshing salsa only called for some strawberries, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. Bam!