How many times have you gone to a restaurant and seen “Baked Potato” on the list of sides in the menu? Countless. The baked potato has become a staple side item for nearly everyone, and has thus become limited in people’s minds as a meal. This is a tragedy because the potato is a versatile starch that has tons of potential for meals if you just use a little thought and effort to make it happen.

Load it up

These days, a “loaded” baked potato is merely a side item with butter, cheese, sour cream, chives and bacon. Essentially… lots of carbohydrates with little to no benefit as far as fuel for your body. The concept of loading up on a potato is a grand idea, however, when you choose to see a potato as a blank canvas. Think of a food genre, and apply a potato to it. Enjoy Mexican food? Load up your potato with ground beef, avocado, cheese and sour cream. How about Chinese food? Try topping your potato off with chunks of chicken breast covered in a sweet sesame sauce with sauteed green peppers and onions. The sky is the limit when you load up your potato with your favorite meal-worthy ingredients.

Make it a soup

There’s nothing like a good potato soup in the winter time. The best part? There’s so many different recipes, ingredients and ways to make it. Simplify the recipe by keeping it limited to broth, cream, potatoes and cheese. Or make it extravagant by adding in bacon and chives, sherry, onion, and flour. Make it thick or thin, light or heavy, either way, get creative with it and create a soup that the whole family will enjoy.

Make it a hardy salad

The classic mayonnaise based potato salad is a well known side for grilling out, but have you ever considered adding meat to it to make it an actual meal? Adding Italian turkey sausage and using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise can make this side a healthier meal that will fill you up and fuel your body.

Potatoes are far from boring when you get creative with them. Load your potato up with creative toppings, turn it into a soup, or make it a hardy salad; you’ll love the idea of branching out beyond your typical side item.

How do you get creative with potatoes?