What are your chilly weather go-to meals?

Call it pandemic overload, meal planning fatigue, or whatever you want. We have it. We’ve hit a few walls when it’s come to making dinner this past year and a half.

A month ago, I hit that wall again. It’s time to mix things up and introduce some new recipes into the rotation.

Several years ago, I asked about your your go-to weeknight dinners and wow, did you come through in the comments section! So I’m turning to you once more. I’m fascinated by what other people have for dinner, and I need fresh ideas as the weather turns cooler.

We’re a family of mostly meat-eaters and one vegetarian, and are always striving for the right combination of deliciousness and ease. I also rely on recipes that are flexible: around here, making dinner can’t require a special trip to the grocery for an unusual ingredient. (Although we stock a good number of ingredients around here that others may consider unusual.)

We’ve been in a demanding season these past 6 weeks or so, and lately have been exploring a wide variety of heat-and-serve meal options from Trader Joe’s and Costco. (If you have favorites, by all means, share them in comments!) But Will and I both enjoy cooking, especially during the soup and stew time of year we’re transitioning to right now.

I’ll kick things off by sharing a not-really-a-recipe that I make all the time when we need something fast, tasty, and easy. This dish doesn’t even have a name; I typically call it “that chicken and black bean skillet thing.” I learned to make it when I was fifteen years old: the family I babysat for on weekday afternoons taught me how to make it as a simple and nutritious meal for their kids.

Here’s what you do: heat up a large skillet (cast iron, stainless, nonstick, it doesn’t matter) and add a little olive oil. Sauté diced bell peppers (red or orange preferred) and onion if you have it (red is pretty). When the vegetables begin to gently brown, add sliced raw chicken, OR wait another minute or two and add chopped rotisserie chicken or other chopped cooked chicken. Add a can of black beans, season as desired, and you’re done! For seasoning, I like to use a dash of chipotle chile powder or Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Seasoning. Other nice additions are frozen corn, chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), and spicy peppers.

This is great in bowls with all kinds of toppings (cilantro, salsa, guac, red onion, sour cream, shredded cheese), wrapped in tortillas, or tucked into quesadillas. I like to serve it with a zingy salad, something colorful with a bright dressing.

What are your chilly weather go-to meals? Thanks in advance for your great ideas!

P.S. 5 favorite recipes for soup season and 20 interesting recipes to make for dinner with boneless skinless chicken breasts.

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    • Rebecca Wheeler says:

      this is a classic recipe that I love as well! It’s amazing with dried beans from Rancho Gordo, check them out, you an order online.

  1. Last night, my husband found me chopping sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and sweet onions. “Making your favorite meal, I see?” YES. This sheet pan combo tossed in olive oil with sausages (and maybe bacon, if you’re feeling *extra*) makes me feel warm and cozy. And I top it off with a drizzle of honey mixed with dijon mustard before roasting a little longer. I don’t like “honey mustard” though… strange, strange, but there really is a difference!

  2. Amelia says:

    Hi! One of my favorite go-to easy meals is to make a salad out of a burger. Lately, I’ve liked using Trader Joe’s frozen Cowboy quinoa burgers and also heating up Trader Joe’s Mexican street corn. Once both of those are heated and ready to eat, I add them to salad mix. Then I add whatever veggies I have on hand and make sense – cherry tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, raw broccoli. I might add a little salad dressing but the Mexican street corn is pretty saucy so sometimes I don’t.

    • Maryam says:

      I did that once with a recipe. I converted chicken Fajita into salad by adding all into bowl without rice and added chopped and squared flat bread. It was very filling and fun to make.

  3. Rachel Mims says:

    I do a lot of soups. Since I was a kid we’ve had tomato soup with grilled cheese. That’s not really a recipe. One of my favorite soups is ham and white bean soup. Sauté onions and carrots in a skillet until the carrots soften just a little bit then add a quart of chicken broth, chopped cabbage, can of crushed tomatoes, two cans of white beans (whatever kind you like) and chopped ham steak. I eat it with cornbread.

  4. Seppie says:

    I have to put in a plug here for Platejoy. I don’t have any connection with the company except that I started using it in August. It is life changing! It’s not a meal kit service, just a meal planning service, but they have really nailed it. We are eating healthier and cheaper and a wider variety of foods than ever, which is saying something – we weren’t doing badly before. As my husband says about the recipes, “We haven’t had a dud yet.” It’s practical and customizable. I now spend a total of an hour and a half per week on meal planning and shopping (Plarejoy connects your list to grocery delivery, so I order all the dry and packaged goods that way, then shop for my own produce.) I think they have a 10 day free trial, but by meal 3 I went ahead and subscribed for a year. It’s amazing!

    • Dee says:

      I haven’t used Platejoy but years ago I did the same with The Fresh 20. I swear it taught me how to cook. We don’t use it anymore because I feel so much more comfortable meal planning and preparing.

  5. Sheri says:

    I’m vegan, so these are too. Obviously, meat can be added. One of my favorite quick and easy, but also amazing recipes is Speedy Miso Spinach Mushroom Ramen from Vanilla and Bean: https://vanillaandbean.com/speedy-miso-spinach-mushroom-ramen/#wprm-recipe-container-14166. I like to sub bok choy sometimes for the spinach, but spinach is faster. I love spicy heat, so I always add jalapenos. I also love Sesame Noodle from Gimme Some Oven: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/sesame-noodles/#tasty-recipes-59880. I usually add in raw cashews and broccoli, and I make this one way too often.

  6. Gayle says:

    Our favorite is Ina Garten’s Weeknight Pasta Bolognese, except we usually make it on a Sunday night so we can enjoy the leftover wine from the bottle and we have leftovers for lunches. It is simple and delicious. We swap out beef for ground dark turkey.

  7. Judy Holmes says:

    The easiest cozy meal I make is a can of Italian stewed tomatoes that I heat up with a drizzle of olive oil & good dose of basil. I mix up a package of Bisquick cheese biscuits & drop them by the spoonful on to the boiling stewed tomatoes. Turn the heat down & cover for ten minutes or so – until the dumplings are done. Serve in bowls with butter on top of the dumplings. Yummy!

  8. Jill Duffin says:

    Costco Tikka Masala – make rice, heat up tikka masala and serve – add a simple green salad. Also excellent is their frozen chicken pot pie.

  9. Shannon says:

    My husband and I are the king and queen of “the bowl”. The formula is pretty much grains + protein (or not) + sauce + fun toppings.
    Greek/Mediterranean style bowl: couscous or quinoa mix + (lamb meatballs or we have a really great frozen gyro meat at our regional grocery store) + store bought or homeade tzatziki and hummus + feta, olives, etc.
    Asian style bowl: brown/white rice + ground chicken/pork + mushrooms, peppers, and cabbage if we have it, + chili sauce and garlic + toppings on hand (peanuts, wonton strips, sliced almonds, cilantro)

    We have made endless combinations with this formula and they are almost always easy, fast and delicious. Occasionally they get topped with a fried egg.

  10. Julie Cuplin says:

    My favorite Costco take home is their stuffed peppers, and then we add marinara sauce to the top. Another we like is breakfast for dinner occasionally. A favorite is baked oatmeal with a side of bacon. Pinterest has recipes galore.

  11. Stephanie West says:

    We love the meatloaf and mashed potatoes from Costco! It is just the two of us, so we freeze the leftovers and have it again.

  12. JennnSev says:

    4 Can Soup! The result is truly better than the sum of its parts.

    Brown 1lb ground beef
    Add to:
    1 can RoTel
    1 can black beans- drained and rinsed
    2 cans minestrone soup
    Heat and serve! Delicious topped with avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, Siracha…

  13. Julie says:

    We like to do sheet pan dinners. We put sliced kielbasa, cut up potatoes, peppers, onions and mushrooms with a little drizzle of olive oil over the vegetables and salt and pepper and whatever other seasonings you like with something like this. You can easily change this up with different potatoes (like sweet potatoes, red potatoes, etc) and whatever other vegetables are currently in season and can be roasted.

    We also love https://downshiftology.com/recipes/greek-sheet-pan-chicken/

  14. Cheryle Fisher says:

    I recently tried a new recipe which turned out terrific. Colcannon Soup is cut up potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage, chicken broth (could use vegetable broth),heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste. I found the recipe on closetcooking.com. The recipe calls for bacon (which I love, my husband does not) so I browned some sausage to make it. The recipe is for making it on the stovetop, but I made it in the slow cooker adding the cream the last half hour of cooking. My husband had tried and liked colcannon in a restaurant years ago and loved it, so I knew I wanted to try this recipe. I am glad I did.

  15. Heidi says:

    Our daughter has us eating vegan for the next three weeks as part of a school assignment on behavior modification. We’ve been looking at recipes like Smitten Kitchen’s Quick Pasta and Chickpeas, and Indian staples like aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower) curry over rice.

    • Wendy Barker says:

      Aloo Gobi was going to be my suggestion as well. I usually add some kind of meat to it because we are neither vegetarian or vegan. The key is to cut the potato and cauliflower in fairly small pieces of the same size so that they cook at the same time. I do the whole dish in a big well-seasoned cast iron frying pan.

  16. Joanne says:

    Our favorite easy weeknight dinner is French dip sandwiches. French rolls, deli sliced roast beef, and quality au jus like Johnnies, which I order online. Butter and toast the rolls like restaurants do. We serve with tater tots and fruit.

  17. Denise Baysinger says:

    One of my favorite quick dinners/meals is chili cheese omelettes! Shred some of your favorite cheese, warm up some canned chili and get your nonstick pan ready. I usually use 2 to 3 eggs per omelette. Let eggs cook in pan, sprinkle some cheese and lay a strip of chili in the middle. Fold omelette, put on plate, cover with more chili and cheese! Add toast and fruit. Super simple and easy. 😊

  18. Dana d says:

    My go to meal for weekend dinners is chicken nachos. Just layer tortilla chips, cooked,shredded chicken and grated Colby cheese and sliced black olives in a microwave platter and heat for 2 minutes. Serve with sides of chopped onion,salsa chopped tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream . Great dinner for eating during football games.

  19. Colleen Bonilla says:

    I found this great cremini mushroom chili in Dr. Mark Hyman’s cookbook, “Food: What the Heck Should I Cook.” Sadly, I can no longer eat the chili my mom used to make, which was a lifelong favorite of mine. It upsets my stomach. So it was such a joy to find this chili recipe that is SO satisfying and goes down easy for me! (Apparently, Dr. Hyman got the recipe from raisinandfig.com.) https://www.raisinandfig.com/cremini-chili/

  20. Ames says:

    I make Minimalist Baker’s Easy Chana Masala when I’m wanting something warming like chili…but not chili. It’s easy and so good! https://minimalistbaker.com/easy-chana-masala/

    Also, I have been loving the Indian inspired Lentils at Costco. Just heat and go. We’ve served with with sides of brown or white rice, and naan or tortillas.

    Finally, another quick soup if you use the pre-diced mirepoix mix from Trader Joe’s is Tuscan Bean Soup. https://thewanderlustkitchen.com/easy-tuscan-bean-soup/

    So yummy!

  21. Maria Ontiveros says:

    Heat olive oil in Dutch oven. Brown a pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs on each side. Dump in a can of fire roasted chopped tomatoes, small can of sliced black or kalamata olives and a can of white beans (drained). Simmer for twenty minutes. Shred chicken with fork and return to pot. Serve with crusty bread. 4 servings

  22. Kim Kingston-Durgin says:

    I like homemade chili when the day is grey and rainy and my bones ache. I use the recipe found here: https://www.fiestaspices.com/blog/chili-made-from-scratch-using-ancho-chili-pods/. I add a can of either black or kidney beans (rinsed) and extra cumin (about a tsp) and smoked paprika. I pour the chili over one or two tamales in the bowl and add some cheese on the top. Either homemade cornbread or a warm tortilla is served with it. Some people add sour creme, tortilla chips or avocado. A big class of milk completes dinner. As it is only the two of us, there are several meals leftover. Chili leftovers are awesome!

  23. Laura says:

    A hearty sheet pan dinner is always a winner. Our of our most loved includes some type of link sausage (andouille is a favorite) on a sheet pan with cubes of sweet potato, red onion and apple (green or red) and seasoned with fresh thyme, cinnamon, and dried cranberries. Toss the sweet potatoes and onions with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Put on a sheet pan with the sausage links con top. Bake at 400 degrees for about fifteen minutes. Add the apples (tossed in a little olive oil and cinnamon) and cranberries and bake for another fifteen minutes or until everything is done. You can easily set aside a portion of veggies and apples for your vegetarian and cook them on a separate sheet pan (with plant based sausage if they like it).

    • Anne says:

      Laura, we made this last night and everybody loved it! We were almost out of dried cranberries so we used our last ten plus a tablespoon or so of chopped dried cherries. We used AmyLu’s apple gouda chicken sausages from Costco, plus a Beyond sausage for our vegetarian. Delicious!

  24. Beth says:

    I always keep bags of Traders Joe’s fried rice on hand… I add either rotisserie chicken or steak tips. Simple and yummy. (Costco rotisserie chicken can be shredded and frozen to add to this or quesedillas, soup, etc.)

  25. Dulce says:

    We love cozy, stick-to-your-ribs meals in the winter. This is our favorite shepherd’s pie: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/shepherds-pie/
    We also discovered this creamy soup last winter and I am actually making it tomorrow for dinner: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/cozy-curry-chicken-soup/. Something else I love to do is make a big batch of this chicken: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/instant-pot-slow-cooker-smoky-honey-chicken/ and keep some in the freezer to eat in burrito bowls, tacos, enchiladas or quesadillas.

  26. Jennie Brandon says:

    My easiest meals are Mark Bittmans Speedy fish soup which I serve with the Pinch of Yum cheesy no knead bread. I make it with fish pie mix to add variety and an oily fish portion. I use knorr fish stock pots of available. We also make the Tightwad Gazette lentil-rice casserole which can be made vegan. It looks sooo unpromising but I’ve cooked this receipts more than any other I own in endless variations. It makes a great vegetarian taco filling. Finally, sweet potato and black bean nachos. Just make nachos but with SP wedges instead of tortilla chips.

  27. I love using the slow cooker for interesting meals when the weather gets cold. This Black Bean Garlic Pot Roast is an easy recipe and a favorite with my husband – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/12/30/butternut-squash-lasagne/. For a meatless main, we also like my Butternut Squash Lasagne – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/12/30/butternut-squash-lasagne/. This Ham White Bean soup is another favorite – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/04/13/ham-and-white-bean-soup-with-variations/. Enjoy!!

  28. Julie says:

    Costco sells a Sous Vide Top Sirloin (in the prepared meats section) that is *chefs kiss* whenever cooking is cancelled at my house.

    It’s delicious on its own but also would be great to add in to a salad, stew, or soup.

  29. Ahtesham says:

    Did you ever think potpie could be, well, hip and modern? Enter this version, which is made in a cast-iron skillet. Instead of a traditional crust, all you have to do is cover the meat, vegetables, and sauce you’ve made in the skillet with a sheet of puff pastry. Not only is this method easier, but it guarantees a flaky tender crust every time. The recipe calls for beef chuck and vegetables that are more interesting than plain old peas, like leeks and butternut squash. A cup of stout beer, like Guinness, adds tangy complex flavor to the sauce.

  30. Elizabeth says:

    When I don’t have anything in the house I make a frittata. Cut up any veggies you have–a good combo is onions, potatoes or other root veggies and something green like broccoli. Generously fill a cast iron skillet with the veggies and some oil, salt and pepper and herbs. Roast in 375 oven for about 40 minutes until all the veggies are tender. Take out of oven and pour 8-10 wisked eggs with salt and pepper on top. Swirl around a little to cover the veggies with eggs and then put back in the oven for 10 minutes or until the eggs are set and slightly brown. You can serve hot, warm or cold. You can also sprinkle with parmesan after adding the eggs before putting back in the oven. With my cast iron skillet the slices lift right out. With a different pan you might want to spray with oil before you start.

  31. Gretchen says:

    We’ve got a few, but a long-time family favorite (and easy as can be) is Baked Chicken with Rice & Vegetables. This one-pot meal is a favorite recipe modified from a diabetes cookbook.
    The original has fewer veggies, and also uses butternut squash, but we prefer these veggies. (You can add whichever you like!)
    It is easy to scale up: I’ll often add a couple of extra chicken breasts, add an extra couple of zucchini, an extra onion, and an extra bell pepper and double both the rice and boursin (and water as needed).
    1 pkg chicken flavored rice mix or chicken-flavored rice and vermicelli mix
    2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise then into 2 inch slices
    1 medium onion, large diced
    2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs)
    2 cups water or bone broth
    1 container of Boursin or Alouette garlic and herb spreadable cheese
    Freshly chopped parsley for topping
    Heat oven to 425.
    Mix rice, seasoning packet (included in rice pkg), and veggies in an ungreased rectangular pan (9×13).
    Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat.
    Cook chicken in skillet for about 5 minutes, turning once, until brown.
    Remove the chicken from the skillet (it will only be partially cooked), and set aside tented with foil.
    Add water to the skillet and heat to boiling.
    Pour boiling water over rice mixture and stir to mix.
    Stir in cheese, then place chicken in the dish.
    If desired, you can place a few thinly sliced lemon rounds on top of the casserole: it looks pretty and adds a little bit of acid.
    Cover and bake about 30 mins, until the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through.
    Top with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and serve.

    • Gretchen says:

      As long as your vegetarian doesn’t mind the chicken being cooked in the same pan, the rice and veggies are good as they are!

  32. Gretchen says:

    Tamale Pie
    My great-great grandmother (family from San Diego & NM) used to make Tamale Pie, and we have that original recipe handed down. To be fair to Gram, it was one of the easy & tasty budget dishes she could make depending on what was at hand. It was little meat (with onion & spices) and a big hunk of masa/cornmeal tamale dough on top (seasoned with “onion juice”) & black olives for salt. It didn’t age as well as she did!

    We’ve updated it, and it is such a good comfort dish for this time of year. For your veggie kiddo, you could just leave out the ground meat and make as is without. And, you could easily make this with whatever version of chili you prefer, and just focus in on making that yummy corn topping. I’ve made this with pre-chopped onions and bell peppers for ease’ sake, and almost always used canned diced green chiles instead of a fresh poblano, because they’re in the pantry! The dark beer is optional, but does add something particular & yummy to the flavor. And, if you partake, it’s always advised to have one beer for cook & one for cooking.

    Great-Grandma Smith’s Tamale Pie
    2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
    2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, divided
    1 large fresh poblano pepper, diced
    If no poblano pepper, *can add 1-2 cans diced green chiles (or substitute a can of diced tomatoes with mild green chiles for one of the canned tomatoes above)
    2 medium diced onion
    2 medium diced bell peppers
    4 garlic cloves (pressed)
    1-2 tablespoon ground cumin powder (adjust to taste)
    1 tablespoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
    2 teaspoon oregano
    12 ounces beer, dark (or broth, (Use as needed)
    1/2+ cup cilantro, chopped
    1 lime, juiced
    (If you want to make Gram happy, you can always top the chili with sliced black olives before putting on the cornmeal mix, but we don’t!)

    nonstick cooking spray
    3 large poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and diced (we left this step out/sub in diced green chiles)
    2 cups cornmeal or 2 cups masa harina
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 teaspoons salt (adjust to taste)
    1/2 cup canned low sodium chicken broth or 1/2 cup vegetable broth
    4 cups baby frozen corn, thawed
    2-3 cups packed coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (divided) (be as heavy handed as you like)
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    sour cream (Cilantro Cream)

    In a large pot brown ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic, breaking meat into small pieces. Drain of excess grease.
    Add poblano pepper and cook for about 2 minutes.
    Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1 cup beer and one can of black beans.
    Add ground cumin, chili powder, & oregano.
    Bring to a boil, cover and turn down to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes, adding more beer or broth as needed (keep in mind that the mashed black beans will be added as a thickner).

    Drain the remaining can of beans and lightly mash.
    To thicken, add the crushed black beans and adjust spices and liquid as needed.
    Bring to a simmer again for 5 minutes; squeeze in juice of one lime before assembling.

    If using chiles:
    Char chilies directly over gas flame or under broiler until blackened on all sides.
    Place in medium bowls, cover tightly with plastic.
    Let stand 10 minutes.
    Peel, seed and chop chilies, set aside.

    To make dough:.
    If using cornmeal, place in food processor and process until fine, 3 or 4 minutes.

    In food processor, blend cornmeal/Masa Harina, butter, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt until coarse meal forms.
    Add broth and blend in (mixture will be crumbly).
    Transfer masa mixture to large bowl.

    In food processor blend 2 1/2 cups corn, 1 cup cheese, baking powder, black pepper and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt until coarse puree forms.
    Stir puree into masa mixture until blended.
    Add the rest of the corn (1 1/2 cups) to masa mixture.

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
    Spray baking dish.
    Spread half of cornmeal mixture on the bottom of the dish.
    Spread warm chili on top of the cornmeal. Sprinkle green chilies on top of the chili.
    Evenly spread the remaining cornmeal mixture on top.

    Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
    Loosely cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

    Remove foil and return to oven and bake additional 25 minuters or until the cornmeal is firm and the chili bubbly.
    Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
    Serve with Cilantro Cream

  33. Jennifer says:

    Deb Perleman’s simple cauliflower tacos-which can really be a year round dinner. So good and one of those meals everyone can customize-

  34. Dee says:

    Oh, my gosh, I’ve just lost a morning saving recipes! Here’s my offering: Chuckwagon Casserole
    2 lbs ground beef
    1 onion chopped
    1 green pepper chopped
    2 cans chili beans
    1.5 cups BBQ sauce
    1 can mexicorn
    2 boxes jiffy cornbread mix

    Cook beef, onion, and green pepper together.
    Add chili beans and BBQ sauce,
    Pour into deep casserole dish.
    In mixing bowl:
    2 boxes Jiffy cornbread (Follow instructions, using egg and milk.) and add mexicorn
    Spoon cornbread mixture on top.
    Bake at 350 degrees for ½ hr or until golden brown.

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