How to Plan, Shop for, and Prepare Easy Fall Meals for You and Your Family
Getting into the spirit of fall seems easy enough when it comes to home cooking, but more often than not we can get stuck into a kitchen rut by serving the same foods week after week. If you have children, you know that they are notoriously hard to please, and that getting anything done when they are around is next to impossible. Here are some tips to help spice up your autumn cuisine the easy way and make everyone happy.
The best way to plan for mealtimes is to make a menu. If you write it down, you’re more likely to stick to it, so get out the pen and paper and start jotting down ideas. Planning week by week works the best, since most of us go to the grocery store once a week (not to mention your food will be freshest this way).
Keep the season in mind when planning your weekly meals. For fall, seasonal fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, squash, and other gourds, carrots, apple, corn, and potatoes are tasty options. Chicken, turkey, and pork are also particularly seasonal when served as a roast or other warming, hearty fare.
If you’re struggling to think of simple meals, remember that the less prep time, the better. Crock Pot, one pot, and skillet meals are the easiest to prepare and to cook, so you’re in luck this season. Go for meals you can prepare well in advance and leave to simmer for a few hours while you and your family are outside enjoying the changing seasons (or while you get a few chores done, whichever you prefer).
Need some menu inspiration? The Internet is chock full of one-of-a-kind dishes perfect for fall, but here are a few of our favorites here at Modernize:
- Roast chicken and cauliflower (Rachael Ray)
This one pot meal is super simple to prepare, and the cauliflower offers a creative alternative to some traditional autumnal vegetables. Make sure to save your leftover roast chicken for shredded chicken tacos on leftover night!
- Apple-pecan pork chops (Better Homes and Gardens)
Skillet meals are a firm family favorite because they require little washing up and are fairly simple to execute. Apple and pork go perfectly together, and the pecan takes your meal to the next level.
- Fresh, homemade soups
Nothing says crisp autumn days like a bowl of hot soup. Make your own Tuscan bean or tomato and basil soup and serve with toasted sandwiches or tear-and-share bread.
When it comes time to shop, don’t forget your list. If your budget allows, go local and organic whenever possible. If you can only spring for a few organic fruits and veggies, remember the Dirty Dozen and buy accordingly.
Be clever with meat: buying whole a whole chicken, turkey, or roasting joint will seem like more work at first, but it will reward you when it comes to leftover time. You can also freeze extra chicken breasts and packets of ground beef when you buy them, so if you spot a deal, then go for it.
If you know you are going to be short on time when it comes to prepping your meals, it’s okay to buy pre-prepared vegetables. Just remember that you will end up spending more money on less produce, so start teaching your older kids how to chop now!
After you’ve finished your shopping and you’re ready to prepare your meals, consider batch cooking. If you want to get all of your meals ready to go for the week, this is the way to go. It’s also particularly helpful for larger families and nights when you’re hosting the entire soccer team around the dining table. As long as you’ve chosen meals that can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer over the course of the week, you will save yourself hassle on those busy school nights.
Save yourself time over the week by prepping all your meals at once and utilizing your Crock Pot. Remember that you can store freshly chopped vegetables in sealed freezer bags for a few weeks, so the next time you’re motivated to chop, get it all out of the way.
To finish off your autumnal meals, don’t forget the seasoning. Using seasonal spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and peppercorn in your sweet and savory dishes will bring everything together with little effort and maximum result.