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Bring On The Fall

AE_foodsImages via Pinterest and linked below.

Here's my truth: I'm not inspired by summer foods.

Don't get me wrong - I love summer foods. Fresh fruits. Corn on the cob. Grilled stuff.

But it's the foods of fall, or at least the change in season, that gets me back in the kitchen again and feeling like I actually want to be cooking.

Maybe it's all about routine. Fall signals a return to routine (or the start of some new ones if you live in my house this year) and for me that usually means that I want to get stuff in order. Meal planning - or at least more intentional meals - usually comes up at this time of year.

I'm not complicated in the kitchen. Simple and easy and healthy is what I'm looking for when I browse recipes.

Here's some recipes I want to try in the next few weeks (all pinned to my recipe board on Pinterest - which by the way I've been loving again - feeling inspired rather than depleted and overwhelmed when browsing):


Aaron and I had a talk the other day about setting aside a weekend day to cook a whole bunch of meals to freeze for his house and for mine. I like the idea of combining our efforts in a method that will help both of us out during the week when dinnertime rolls around and the kids are hungry and we're each on our own.

If we do end up doing that I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm also thinking about signing up for emeals again. I like their suggestions, their shopping list, their instructions, and the variety. It's usually more food than the three of us eat (big meals every night) during one week but I like that I can print it all out and then refer back to it again.

And while on the topic of dinners and meal planning I want to recommend you check out Melanie Makes. She posts a new menu plan each week and there's often something from her list I'm interested in trying too.

I'm also really wanting to have turkey dinner sometime soon.

Do you have a favorite fall food or healthy freezer meal that's in your rotation?

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58 thoughts

  1. dawn says…
    08/28/2013

    I love this post Ali, so fun to read and now I'm hungry and it's only 6a.m.

    My dream is to have a freezer filled with ready to go dinners, especially now when school is here and soccer season started. I have been thinking more about cooking during the day while the kids are at school and having this help get dinner ready faster too. We are stuck in the same what's for dinner rut, even our favorites are feeling old. I just got some food magazines at a garage sale and have been writing down new things to try.
    The yummy foods of summer are still making me happy though. We have a garden and I can't stop eating the tomatoes and zucchini and we have corn/cob almost daily as our bedtime snacks. I love that we sit around the table with the kids in their pj's and laughing at our messy faces while eating the corn.

    I am sooooo ready for FALL, my favorite season. We will be making chili again but that's about all we change in our menu.

    Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday and already the pumpkin pies are out at the store and making me want it to come already.

    Almost forgot, we do drink a lot of cider and donuts during the fall. I love dipping cider donuts in our cider, kinda like dunking cookies in milk only warmer.

    Thanks for the fun post Ali and hope you will let us know how these turn out for you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. P.j. says…
    08/28/2013

    I do 'once a month" cooking during the cooler/cold months. I LOVE IT. Cooking day is HARD and long, but the end result of not having to plan and prepare daily meals is so worth it in time and worry about what to fix. I use our own recipes and double or triple them. As an example: When the kids were living at home, it took 2 meatloaf for one meal. So if I wanted meatloaf 2 meals in a month, I baked 4. Now that the kids are gone, 1 meatloaf will feed DH and I three meals.

    Some meals that I can crockpot, I will just bag uncooked and freeze those things that go into the pot. The day before I plan to use them I defrost the bag, so the next morning just dump in the slowcooker and have a wonderful evening meal without the prep hassle. Hint: use those "Slow cooker" bags in your crockpot when you cook, and there's no clean up afterwards.

    In the summer, we often have produce from the garden or given to us, that it's harder to plan meals a month in advance. We grill out more at the spur of the moment, too.

    Even having a few extra meals in the freezer is a blessing. I urge you to try it.

    Reply 4 Replies
    1. P.j. says…
      08/29/2013

      Baked potatoes in the crockpot are wonderful, too.

    2. P.j. says…
      08/29/2013

      Types of meals: chili, soups, meatloaf, lasagna, baked egg rolls, sloppy joes, marinara sauce for anything Italian, stew, BBQ pork, browned ground beef (lbs) for all kinds of meals, taco seasoned browned ground beef or chicken for many mexican dishes,
      crockpot cooked chicken that I can cube or shred for many dishes, mini quiches for breakfasts. There are many more, I just can't think of them right now.

      For the crock pot, I bag up and freeze meats and the veggies, such as a beef roast, carrots, celery, and onions. The day before I want to cook it. I get it out of freezer to defrost, then in the morning I dump it in a cool crockpot, turn crockpot on, then serve it up at dinner. This works great for all kinds of soups, too. Maybe not milk or cream based ones. Milk doesn't freeze well either. HINT: the Slow Cooker Liners you can find at your grocery was MARVELOUS!!! for easy cleanup afterwards.

    3. dawn says…
      08/28/2013

      This sounds wonderful, great tips. Would love to hear more about it. I love using our crockpot too but need some new ideas. I've heard of cooking clubs that do this one month cooking together and share all the food at the end. Both ways sound good to me. Thanks for sharing.

    4. Susan A says…
      08/28/2013

      What types of meals do you make on your once a month cooking day? I'm looking for ideas.

  3. Kym says…
    08/28/2013

    We made that one pot pasta a couple nights ago and it was AWESOME! I told my picky five year old it was "magic pasta" and he ate two bowls. It's a keeper for sure!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Mel says…
    08/28/2013

    My favorite fall food, hands down, is apples. We live in an area with lots of orchards, and there's a cider mill within a few minutes. I'm already fairly fall-obsessed, but having access to apples right off the tree is one of the things I look forward to when summer ends. And while apples are typically more of a dessert thing, you can use cider and apples for all kinds of things. I love adding apples to salads, particularly, and making my own applesauce with just fresh apples and some water, simmered on the stove until soft. Yummy!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. SherriS. says…
    08/28/2013

    I also don't "love" summer cooking. I enjoy making chili and soups, roasts and gf mac n cheese:) More comfort food that heats up the house obviously.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Monika Wright says…
    08/28/2013

    Will have to try the Baked Ziti, sounds yummy. When I make meatballs, I use Giada's recipe, I triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers for quick meals later {meatball subs are always a favorite here} but instead of frying, I bake then on a foil lined and sprayed cookie sheet and turn them once. So much easier than standing and frying up 120 meatballs. And for the chicken, try it with crumbled blue cheese instead of parmesan...ridiculously good, our 10-year old asks for it all the time.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Rachel B says…
    08/28/2013

    I wanted to also suggest a service that has worked well for my family called The Fresh 20. We have been using their service since February. It has really eased the pain of grocery shopping and figuring out what is for dinner. (Not affiliated with The Fresh 20 in any way, just a big fan).

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Colleen says…
    08/28/2013

    I have the same thoughts of summer versus fall meals. I usually take three weekends between October and February and make a ton of freezer meals to cover us for several weeks. A majority of them are ones I can cook in the crock pot so dinner is ready when I get home. My favorites are chicken parmesan meatballs and mango salsa chicken with coconut rice. Also any soup and chicken pot pie. Now if the temperature would cooperate. School is back in session...summer can end any time now.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. dawn says…
      08/28/2013

      These all sound so yummy!!

  9. Elisa says…
    08/28/2013

    Fall to me means soup! I love making soups and chowders and chili! One of my fav soups is Albondigas Soup. recipe is on my blog. Think of it like a Mexican version of Italian Wedding Soup. It has a little chili in it and cilantro. YUM!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Susan A says…
    08/28/2013

    I started the fall stock up yesterday with a big pot of spaghetti sauce. Today I'm making veggie soup. One of my single friends and I used to make and freeze meals which we shared with each other. It helped us eat healthier and was fun.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Jenni Hufford says…
    08/28/2013

    i agree about summer foods. too many late dinners and there's something about the oven being on when it's 90 out- yuk. i decided to start a pinterest board of meals in my regular rotation--- i just felt like i had recipes all over the place and wanted to have ones i've tried and want to make again in one place (esp now that i cook gluten free- that's a whole other ball game)!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. {vicki} says…
    08/28/2013

    I cook ALOT on days that I have time (usually sunday) and then we have good, home cooked meals ready to be reheated in the microwave all week long (when I don't have time to cook). This has really worked out well for me.
    Another think I do is buy huge packages of ground beef and go ahead and brown it up with onions and garlic then freeze in serving size portions---that saves lots of time when preparing a meal that call for ground beef.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Erin Graziano says…
    08/28/2013

    I love summer foods but at the end of the season, I am ready for a change in the menu. A few of my favorite fall favorites are pasta e fagioli (fortheloveofcooking.net), chili, pumpkin bread and minestrone. My all time favorite is chicken marbella (found in the Silver Palate cookbook). It is awesome because you marinate it the night before and then just add a little brown sugar and white wine before putting it in the oven. With homework and sports schedules, it is nice to have such a delicious meal that is easy to get done at a busy hour. It is extremely flavorful and delicious. I love to serve it with cous cous to soak up the extra juices. It is also fabulous with butternut squash. My mouth is watering now. ; ) Email me if you want the recipe.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Cathy L. says…
    08/28/2013

    I look forward to fall cooking too. I've been dreading cooking and meal planning lately, but as cooler weather approaches, I feel more inspired.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Leigh says…
    08/28/2013

    I feel the same about summer foods - love them but not all that inspired to cook until fall too :) I personally love Marin Mama's recipes and weekly menus. Simple, healthy, and super yummy so I thought I would share:

    http://www.marinmamacooks.com/

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. becky h says…
    08/28/2013

    I have tried the One Pot Pasta and it is wonderful.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Kimberly Kalil says…
    08/28/2013

    Mike and I just started cooking for the week each Sunday afternoon. It makes life so much easier. Week nights are just so hard with after-school activities, homework, etc. It's nice to pull something out of the Fridge or freezer and have dinner ready with little thought or effort.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. pam says…
    08/28/2013

    I tried emeals.com but like savingdinner.com better. She even has a month of freezer meals program you can purchase - might be helpful for your 'big' cooking day. The menu for 2 is probably even adequate for you and the kids. You also get access to not only classic meals, but paleo and low carb as well. Since I live alone, I love being able to cook one meal and have it be enough for two.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Ali says…
      08/28/2013

      Thanks for that tip Pam!

    2. Gina says…
      08/28/2013

      I also love Saving Dinner! My sister-in-law and I have made 10-12 freezer meals in one afternoon. We try to do this 2-3 times per year. It works great!

  19. MerryMom says…
    08/28/2013

    Even if you don't complete entire meals to freeze, even cooking chicken, meatballs, grilled flank steak, etc. and freezing it into dinner portions will greatly streamline the meal preparation process.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. josie says…
    08/28/2013

    I always try to have some staples in the freezer - refried beans & black beans (made in crockpot) for tacos, tostados, burritos & nachos
    Meatballs - great for pasta or even just meatball subs

    Muffins - I love apple/banana & pumpkin - I store in freezer to pull out for a quick snack or to include in a lunchbox

    Waffles & french toast - Triple batches made - freeze well - quick to pull out for breakfast or easy dinner

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Ewa says…
    08/28/2013

    Big emails fans here too! A bit ago they came out with a wonderful iphone app which makes the list use that much easier. You'll love it!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      08/28/2013

      Yes! I downloaded that - need to get signed back up to use it too.

  22. MK Hennigan says…
    08/28/2013

    I have been using emeals for over a year and just recently changed to the clean eating menus. Even though I generally shop clean I love the fact that I really do not have to think about it with emeals. Love the convenience of the whole program and now I have a years full of inspiration that if a few meals from the current week do not suit our families taste I just reference back to previous weeks. This may sound nuts but I print two copies, one that I use for my grocery list and hang on my refrigerator to reference while cooking and the other copy goes in a sheet protector in a binder for future reference and they are put in in the order that I received them so they are using seasonal ingredients. Loved seeing your Paris pictures, my Husband and I where there in April spending an amazing twelve days. Looks like you all had an amazing trip too. Bonjour and Bon Apetit.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Jennifer K says…
    08/28/2013

    Meal planning... That's something I really need to do!

    I don't usually freeze cooked final products. But I really like having cooked and shredded turkey or chicken I can pull out for making enchiladas, along with keeping frozen diced tomatoes/peppers/onions/etc. for quickly tossing into stews, stuff like that. So much healthier to dice up and freeze some organic tomatoes from the farmer's market than get them in a can later!

    Cooking together can be a great experience. Enjoy!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Ali says…
      08/28/2013

      I think the kind of freezer meals I'm looking at are ones that haven't been cooked all the way but are all ready to go...just need to put in the oven.

    2. P.j. says…
      08/29/2013

      Ali, it will help alot if you just cook several pounds of ground beef (sausage, pork, turkey), chicken, bacon, etc. and have it frozen ready to be pulled out, defrosted and into your daily cooking. You only have the mess once to clean up. Many entrees you can prepare to cook, then freeze before cooking. Pastas as a whole do NOT freeze well. I've found Lasagna does work to freeze, but that's about the only one.

      My freezer always have several pounds of browned ground beef and cooked in crockpot chicken (shredded to use for salads, sandwiches, BBQ chicken pizza etc,) I have some hamburger patties made at all times, too. Great for summer grilling.

  24. Anna Aspnes says…
    08/28/2013

    I'm loving grass-fed beef short ribs in the crock pot rigt now. Never gets old regardless of season.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Kim says…
    08/28/2013

    I'm a big fan of fall cooking and the new rhythms that come with the season (and I don't even have kids!). Last year I tried the service at http://5dinners1hour.com/ and loved it! She gives you 5 meals/week for a month, complete with shopping lists and side dish ideas. The idea is that you spend 1 hour on Sunday prepping all of the meals, and then just quickly cook them (under half an hour) daily.

    I did the gluten free set and loved all of the fresh ingredients and whole foods. I like cooking simple recipes and these fit the bill!

    Everything we tried was delicious!

    Reply 0 Replies

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