As the carefree days of summer fade into the fall season, we are beginning to trade in our bathing suits for blanket scarves and our flip flops for fuzzy boots. We update our wardrobes for each season, so why not do the same with our weekly meal prep?
#1 Bust out the slow cooker
A homemade dinner tastes delicious after a long day, but what tastes even better is a meal that’s already made when you arrive home, am I right? Set up your slow cooker during the evening and prep all of your ingredients. In the morning, simply turn on your slow cooker before you leave for work then when you arrive home, you will be greeted by a deliciously prepared meal. Don’t have a slow cooker? Try using your Instant Pot instead.
Allison Koch, Chicago-based sports dietitian, recommends rounding out your meal with a simple salad that’s easy to prepare and ensures you are getting your fill of veggies too!
#2 Channel your inner baker
During the hot summer months, many of us refrain from baking (well, unless you are practicing your holiday baking recipes), but as the temperatures begin to cool off, it’s time to channel your inner top chef and become a fall baker.
Registered dietitian and pumpkin expert Maggie Michalczy says that adding pumpkin puree to baked goods adds more vitamin A, C and fiber to every bite. Need some recipe inspiration? Try some of these fall baking recipes:
- Apple cinnamon bread by Rachel Mansfield
- Chocolate chip sweet potato muffins by Ambitious Kitchen
- Gluten free pumpkin cookie dough balls by Once Upon a Pumpkin
- Pumpkin pie cookie crisp by PaleOMG
#3 Eat for the seasons
However, during the cooler fall months, our bodies crave earthy, hearty foods like root vegetables, so swap out that frozen smoothie for a bowl of hot oatmeal. Give your lunchtime salad a fall makeover or try a bowl of homemade soup to warm you up on a cold fall day.
Not only does eating with the seasons taste great, but there are some benefits too. Koch reports: “It can be more cost effective to eat what’s in season as it generally costs less. It may also back a more powerful nutritional punch as the fruit or vegetable has likely been picked at the peak of perfection, which means the nutrients it contains are also at their highest level. Last, seasonal local produce has likely traveled fewer miles from the farm to your fork than perhaps a banana or mango grown many miles from the big city, so there’s an environmental benefit as well.”
#4 Explore the farmers market
Although summer is synonymous with local farmers markets, most farmers markets run through the end of October, so swing by and pick up the freshest fall produce. Remember to pack extra tote bags for your heavier fall haul. (We’re looking at you apples and pumpkins). Looking for a local farmers market in your community? Check out this farmers market guide.
#5 Warm up with warming spices
Meal times don’t have to be boring, so get creative and top your seasonal dishes with a pinch of warming spices for an added touch of taste. Some warming spices perfect for the fall season include:
- Mulling spice
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Star anise
Remember, spices and seasonings only pack a burst of flavor for about one year, so if you haven’t used that jar of cloves since your college bake sale, it may be time to replace it with something new.
Happy fall, y’all!