It’s officially fall—the season of cool weather, cozy nights and comfort food. There’s nothing more welcoming on a cool fall night than a homemade meal that’s ready to be enjoyed by the whole family. Here’s how to plan ahead, what to make in advance and how to make your week run smoothly—plus some irresistible fall meals to help you warm up.
Step 1: Start with a brainstorming session
Check the weather for the week. Will it be rainy and cold on Monday? Plan for a rich Murgh Cholay curry or comforting soup. Will the sun be shining on Tuesday? A fresh stir fry with some seasonal fall veggies will do the trick. Also think about what your family enjoys eating and make sure those options are included each week. For example, if your family loves Mac and Cheese, put a new spin on it with Mac and Cheese Pakora. Next, take note of which activities and extracurriculars you’ll be participating in each night of the week—and plan simple, easy meals for those evenings.
Step 2: Stock the pantry
Hit the grocery store and pick up all the items you’ll need for the week’s meals. If you’re having a rice dish one night, and you know you want it to be an easy night, grab a Biriyani spice mix for a simple way to add flavour without a huge time commitment. Stock the pantry with items that will make meal prep easier. Grab a ginger and garlic paste, for example, to help make any meal flavourful.
Step 3: Prep
Are you having a hearty bowl of soup with fresh bread on Sunday? Pre-chop your fall veggies, like butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes, and throw them in a pot with coconut milk, salt, pepper, garlic power and garam masala for a healthy flavourful meal. You can also make meal prep easier for all the week’s meals by grouping ingredients together in “dinner bins” in the fridge. Then when it’s time to make dinner, just grab the bin without having to search through the fridge for all the separate ingredients. Tip: Meals like soup can be made ahead of time in the crockpot for busy nights.
Step 4: Timing
Feeling rushed can take a lot of the joy out of dinner time. So if you want to eat dinner at 5 p.m, make sure the prep has started well ahead of time. For example, if you’re making Lentil Daal, get your lentils, butter, Daal Makhni spice mix, onions, tomatoes and chili peppers in the crockpot early in the day. It will simmer all day, making the house smell delightful. Then all you have to do before dinner is heat up some naan or rice to enjoy with it.
Step 5: Enjoy harvest season
Fall is harvest season! The nutritious veggies that have been growing all summer are ready to harvest, and they truly bring warmth, comfort and health benefits to everyone who chooses to cook with them. The feeling of fall is perfectly captured in the warmth of homemade meals on cool nights.
The reality is that we are all busy, but if you take some time to plan, prep, stock the pantry and think ahead, you’ll get all the benefits of fall meals without feeling like you have to be in the kitchen all day.