Create comforting winter meals that use pantry staples and just one pot.
As the temperature outside keeps dropping and the snow starts falling, cozy soups, stews, and chilis can be just the right type of meal to warm up inside. Making a meal in the slow cooker can help ease mealtime stress by having a delicious, warm meal ready when you are. And whether it’s a slow cooker, a pot on the stove, or a sheet pan in the oven, preparing your meal all together in one pot or pan can simplify the cooking process and reduce the post-meal clean up time!
When planning to make a one pot meal, keep in mind the healthy eating guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Aim to make whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and lentils a major part of the meal. Limit foods high in fat and sugar, use no more than moderate amounts of red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb), and aim to avoid processed meat.
Another aspect of one-pot meals that makes them even more convenient and affordable is that they are a perfect place to use pantry and freezer staple ingredients. Canned foods like beans, tomatoes, and low sodium vegetable or soup broth are staples in these cozy meals. Other shelf-stable pantry items to throw in the pot include lentils and whole grains like quinoa or barley. From the freezer, load in the frozen veggies! Whether you are cooking for a family on a busy weeknight or just for one or two people (and want some leftovers!), check out these delicious recipe ideas from the AICR below.
Slow cooker chicken, mushroom and spinach quinoa risotto
1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked and rinsed
1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
3 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (plus up to 1 cup additional, if needed at the end)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. each of dried thyme, basil and oregano
1 tbsp. coconut oil*
1/2 tsp. pepper
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups roughly chopped, packed spinach
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Place all ingredients except spinach and cheese in slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
- When almost done cooking, the liquid should be absorbed, and the mixture should be slightly sticky. If very sticky, add up to 1 cup additional broth and stir to combine until texture is creamy.
- Stir in spinach and cheese, cover and continue cooking just until spinach begins to wilt (about 2-5 minutes).
*May substitute with oil of your choice.
This dish can be made vegan by omitting the chicken, swapping chicken broth for vegetable broth, and replacing the Parmesan cheese with ¼ cup nutritional yeast.
Quinoa risotto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Slow cooker chicken, mushroom and spinach quinoa risotto recipe makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 380 calories, 11 g total fat (4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 90 mg cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 37 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 280 mg sodium, 2 g sugar, 0 g added sugar.
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New American beef stew
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, cubed
2 cups diced leeks, rinsed well
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) fat-free, reduced sodium beef broth
3 tbsp. dried oregano
2 cups water
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 1/4 lbs. frozen green beans
2 cups chopped kale
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large pot or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add 1/2 of beef and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring, until browned on all sides. Remove beef from pot and set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
- In the same pot, sauté onions for about 5 minutes, stirring often until translucent. Remove onions from pot and set aside.
- Add carrots, leeks, and garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until barely tender.
- Return beef and onions to pot.
- Add tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, broth, oregano, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, until beef is almost tender.
- Add potatoes and bring back to a boil. Lower heat, cover partially, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are barely tender
- Add green beans and kale and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, until kale is tender.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
New American beef stew recipe makes 6 servings (1.5 cup).
Per serving: 440 calories, 10 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 50 mg cholesterol, 64 g carbohydrates, 29 g protein, 12 g dietary fiber, 350 mg sodium, 20 g sugar, 0 g added sugar.
Other delicious one-pot recipes include Sweet Potato Chili with Peanuts and Mushroom Barley Soup! Check out this video for a demonstration of a Shrimp Stir-fry and a Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken and Veggies recipe.