Top Ten Frugal Winter Foods

When the weather gets chilly, I tend to be drawn towards heavier, warmer food. Dishes we’d usually consider comfort food. Here are my top ten choices for filling winter foods you might want to try. As a bonus, most them are pretty darn frugal, too.

Roasted Chicken
Roasted chicken appeared on my fall foods list, but it’s also one of the simplest, most satisfying winter foods around. There are a million variations on the perfect roasted chicken, but two things are most important to me: juicy meat and crispy skin. The herbs and other flavorings are just bonuses on this already satisfying dish. A whole chicken is pretty cheap (unless you’re buying organic), and you can complete the meal by tossing a few halved roasting potatoes and some carrots into the pan with it.

Roast Beef
Are you sensing a theme? I saw this recipe on the Food Network the other day and my mouth started watering. Roasting a big hunk of meat is just as easy as roasting a chicken. The sides are generally the same, too – toss some potatoes in the pan with the roast and you’re good to go.

Any kind – chowder, chicken noodle, tomato bean, it doesn’t matter. Give me a bowl of soup and a piece of toast and I’m a happy camper. French onion soup is sounding particularly good right now. I prefer fresh soup, but canned soup will do. It’s the best when you’re sick – and science proves it. They don’t know why, but chicken soup really does speed the healing process for the common cold or flu. They suspect it has to do with the way the fat in the chicken renders down and combines with the antioxidants in the vegetables.

Macaroni and Cheese
I actually didn’t like mac and cheese as a kid, but now that I’ve discovered the joys of the homemade version with gluten-free pasta and manchego cheese, I’m sold on the wonders of this traditional comfort food.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Another childhood favorite that makes a fabulous accompaniment to a bowl of soup. I preferred American cheese as a child, but I’m open to variations like cheddar, manchego, and other rich cheeses now.

It might be the spices, but I love a hearty jambalaya in the middle of winter. Shrimp, sausage, rice, beans, and strong spices will give you the kick you need to get through the cold months.

Fried Rice
You can make just about any kind of fried rice in a flash. All you need is cooked rice, soy sauce, an egg, some sort of veggies, and meat or nuts. I prefer mine with snow peas and cashews, but I’ve also had it with ham and peas or chicken and peas. Mix and match – it’s filling no matter how you serve it.

I’ll admit that I’m not usually a big lasagna fan, mostly because Italian food always made me feel terrible. Now I know it was the pasta that was the issue. I haven’t yet attempted to make a gluten-free lasagna (it’s tough to make when you only buy penne pasta), but I’ve been craving it for a few weeks now so I might have to give it a try.

It sounds very 70s, but casserole can actually be quite tasty and filling. Even the classic tuna casserole can be made modern by choosing better ingredients than a can of tuna and cream of mushroom soup.

It sounds light and summery, but risotto can be just as filling in the middle of winter. It’s all in the ingredients you choose. Make it with butternut squash and it’s a totally different experience than the shrimp and lemon risotto you made in the peak of summer.

The beauty of many of these foods is that they make enough for a lunch or even a second dinner. Not a fan of leftovers? Freeze part and eat it about a month later with different side dishes. It won’t seem like leftovers. It will seem like a convenient freezer meal.

What are you favorite foods for winter? Tell me in the comments.

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