There’s nothing like winter weather to make you crave warm, comforting food. When it’s gloomy, chilly, and grey, it’s so tempting to dive into a huge plate of steaming hot spaghetti or an entire container of takeout sesame chicken. But be careful: loading up on carbs and sugar can make you feel sluggish and sleepy—just the opposite of what you need when you’re already battling the winter blues. Here are some of my favorite healthy winter dinner ideas, which combine lean protein foods with veggies and flavorful herbs and spices. They’ll leave you feeling warm and satisfied rather than stuffed and lethargic.
- Best Winter Dinner Ideas: Soup Recipes You’ll Love
- The Best Chili Recipes
- Awesome Beef Stew Recipes
- Stay Warm and Well This Winter!
Best Winter Dinner Ideas: Soup Recipes You’ll Love
Few foods pair as beautifully as a piping-hot bowl of creamy tomato soup and a delicious, gooey grilled cheese sandwich. These crowd-pleasing classics are great choices for any family dinner—or an evening when you’re on your own. Check out this easy recipe for roasted tomato soup with cheddar cheese from Southern Living, which blends onion, garlic, thyme, and chives for a rich and nuanced taste. The tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium, and the cheddar provides healthy protein (and amazing flavor!). Pair the soup with grilled sharp cheddar on fresh bread, and you have a winning combo. Try focaccia, ciabatta, or a small baguette for a truly awesome sandwich, and don’t forget to dip your crusts in your soup.
If tomato-based soups are your thing, you’ll also love this chicken enchilada soup from Skinnytaste. With onions, garlic, chipotle chili, cumin, scallions, and cilantro, it’s packed with flavor, and the chicken, black beans, cheese, and sour cream provide plenty of protein. It’s easy to customize this recipe to your liking, whether it’s holding back on the cilantro (Some people absolutely hate it!) or adding extra chili for spice. And if you’re vegetarian or vegan, the soup is still amazingly satisfying if you use only the plant-based ingredients. Just double up on the black beans for more protein.
The Best Chili Recipes
When it comes to healthy ground beef recipes, it’s difficult to beat chili for great nutrition and taste. But there’s another delicious way to serve a lean cut of beef in chili: cubed steak. If you’re looking for a fresh take on the traditional recipe, you’ll enjoy this quick beef chili from Southern Living. It’s ready in under an hour and is another excellent combination of protein and vitamin C. If you’re preparing this winter dinner idea for a family dinner at home, you might set up a toppings bar. Include favorites like shredded cheddar, low-fat sour cream, and chopped green onions, and let everyone customize their bowl. Yum!
Vegetarians and vegans don’t have to feel left out when it comes to chili night. For a meatless entree option, check out this great recipe for vegetarian chili from Allrecipes. It combines your favorite fresh produce with vegetarian chili crumbles and tons of protein-packed beans for a hearty and tasty meal. The kidney and black beans and chickpeas are some of the best sources of protein for anyone on a completely or mostly plant-based diet, and they’re mega-filling too. If you’ve been asked to bring a hot entree to a party or potluck dinner, this recipe is a great choice for a variety of dietary preferences.
Awesome Beef Stew Recipes
Since I love beef-based winter dinner ideas, let’s check out some well-reviewed stews. Southern Living’s beef stew recipe is a classic favorite, with chuck roast, carrots, peas, and potatoes. It’s easy to make a standard recipe like this a bit healthier by making some smart substitutions, like replacing the wheat flour with almond or brown rice flour. (This is also an easy way to make the dish gluten-free.) Any leftovers you have will freeze well for another chilly winter evening (and will save you the trouble of cooking dinner!).
Beef stew dishes are awesome options for the winter because many of them are easy to make in your slow cooker. That means you can walk in after a long day and smell your delicious dinner simmering away, ready to eat. It’s a wonderful option if you’re prone to coming home too exhausted to prepare a full meal for your family or yourself. Give this savory slow cooker beef burgundy recipe a try the next time you’re ready to bust out your Crock-Pot. With mushrooms, carrots, and onions in a dry red wine sauce, it’s super flavorful without being heavy. This recipe calls for diced bacon strips, which you can skip if you’re trying to keep the recipe on the leaner side. You can serve the stew over egg noodles, but if you’re counting your carbs, you can enjoy it on its own.
Helpful hint: you can assemble your slow cooker meals in advance and freeze them (uncooked) in Ziploc-style bags or reusable containers until you’re ready to serve them. Remove the bag from the freezer and allow 24 to 48 hours for it to defrost in the fridge. Pop it into your slow cooker in the morning before you leave the house, and that night you’ll have an amazing meal waiting for you with very little prep time required. It’s a genius way to make life a little easier on yourself on weeknights.
Stay Warm and Well This Winter!
Let’s face it: winter can feel pretty drab. It’s cold and dry, the bare trees make everything seem colorless, and the sun might as well set at 3 PM. It’s no coincidence that many people wind up on the couch binging on Netflix and eating TV dinners. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared with easy recipes that make for incredible meals. With some basic prep, you’ll have a delicious meal on the table rather than eating cereal for dinner or reaching for your pile of take-out menus.
Let me know in the comments which of these winter dinner ideas you’ve tried and enjoyed. And if you have favorite winter recipes of your own, please feel free to share them!