How to Use Cooking Bags for Quick & Easy Side Dishes


While cooking a meal, the main dish usually gets the most focus and attention, which can make the side dishes an afterthought. But as any good chef knows, side dishes are an extremely important part to a strong, cohesive dish.

And while an important component to a well rounded meal, this doesn’t mean a side dish needs to be difficult or time consuming to create. Cooking bags and containers are an easy way to create great tasting side dishes with little effort and cleanup. Learn more about the benefits of using cooking bags for side dishes and the many creative sides that can be made using them.

Why Cooking Bags are Perfect for Cooking Side Dishes

If you haven’t considered using cooking bags before, look at what you’re missing:

  • Less cleanup—Using a cooking bag requires minimal cleanup because you’re not using a pot or pan in which to cook in.
  • Little fuss—Whether you cook your side dish in the microwave, grill, oven, or slow cooker, it’s almost thoughtless – just set the cooking time and go. Plus, you’ll have more time to focus on the main dish or dessert.
  • Ingredient flexibility—It seems like no matter what you put into a cooking bag – spices, sauces, vegetables, starches – it all ends up melding together wonderfully. You can substitute different ingredients for creativity or use up food before it spoils.
  • Cooking method choice—Depending on the type of bag, you can cook in the oven or microwave. RCG also has cooking bags that you can use in the grill and slow cooker bags.
  • Reduce smells—Let’s say your side dish is one of the more odiferous vegetables (we’re looking at you, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower). Cooking these vegetables in a bag can significantly reduce odors. It is a blessing for those who are sensitive to certain smells.
  • Meal prep and garden-friendly—If you’re into meal prepping or have a vegetable garden (or both), cooking bags are a godsend. Just cut and mix up everything, place it in the bag, and freeze (or refrigerate) to cook another day.
  • Convenience—If you’re filling your cooking bags at home, you can use the bag to marinade ingredients ahead of time. If you’re picking up a pre-filled bag at the store, it’s just so easy!

Cook Vegetables, Grains, and Even Fruit Side Dishes

mushroom medleyWhen you’re new to preparing side dishes in a cooking bag, you can start with fewer ingredients, like our Mushroom Medley or BBQ Mexican Corn recipes. After that, experiment with more ingredients, such as the Vegetable Medley.

Don’t forget that fruit can also be a side dish. Check out Granola Baked Apples and Honey Balsamic Summer Stone Fruits dishes. These are a sweet contrast when served with marinated, grilled pork loin or chicken breast.

As for slow cooker side dishes, check out our Franks and Beans, which are great for a potluck.

Check out many more side recipes here!

Oh-So-Many Cooking Methods

The RCG steam-cooking bags are used for most side dish recipes on our website and work in the microwave or oven. We also carry a line of bags specifically for steaming produce in the microwave.

grilled corn

If you don’t want to heat up the kitchen, think about grilled side dishes. You can cook a side dish in one of our grilling bags alongside the protein to really minimize cleanup!

Help Families Make Fast and Healthy Side Dishes

With so many unique and creative ways to use cooking bags for side dishes, you are sure to find your next family favorite. To find out more, see our RCG FAQs!

Grocers and distributors, check out our Cooking Bag Program and a full line of bags and boxes. Feel free to contact us with your questions about our microwave, oven, grill, and slow cooker cooking bags.