There are lots of things to love about autumn, one of which is all the delicious comfort foods that help us settle in comfortably on those cool, crisp nights. The recipes you use are up to you, but here are a few examples of fresh, frugal dishes that’ll put yummy in your tummy this fall.
Bangers and Mash
This quintessential English dish is a great way to bring pub grub to the table when the weather has you locked in. For a twist, add a bit of garlic to the mashed potatoes for a rich and flavourful potato that perfectly compliments your pork, beef or Cumberland sausage.
I’m not sure if there’s a cheaper, more delicious fall dish out there. If you make your own chicken stock and grow vegetables in a personal garden, you’ll hardly have to buy anything. Even if you do have to run to the market to pick up ingredients, carrots, celery, onions and chicken are inexpensive. Plus, chicken soup is proven to be effective in fighting colds. So why not head it off at the pass and serve up piping hot bowls before the sickness sets in?
It was the Greeks — not Italians — who invented this one-dish dinnertime staple that combines wide, flat pasta stacked between layers of robust sauce, bubbly cheeses and ground meat. If you don’t have lasagna noodles on hand, you can recreate the concept of this dish using ziti. Just combine the pasta, sauce and meat. Then cover with a thick layer of cheese before baking it in the oven for about 30 minutes.
What’s great about a whole roast chicken — besides that it’s cheap — is that you can feed the whole family and still have enough left over for a sandwich the next day. To increase the flavour factor of your roast chicken, massage the chicken with butter under its skin, stuff it with lots of lemons and herbs, and generously salt and pepper the entire bird before sticking it in the oven to brown and crisp. When you remove the chicken, let it rest for at least 10 minutes so all those juices can redistribute throughout the bird for a moist, succulent meal.
Instead of a sandwich with that leftover roast chicken, how about a potpie? Just combine chunks of chicken with your favourite veggies — peas, carrots and potatoes are traditionally used — and gravy, then top it with a pastry crust. Make a few slits in the crust so the steam can escape and wait for the flaky goodness to emerge from the oven golden and gorgeous.
I might have been wrong about chicken soup — meatloaf might be the most frugal fall dinner of all. A proper meatloaf only needs a few ingredients — mainly ground beef and onions or green peppers mixed with a few other ingredients like salt, pepper, eggs and breadcrumbs. A variation of this classic German dish includes a meatloaf combined with mushrooms. Of course, no meatloaf is complete without a sauce on top, which is basically just ketchup. Can’t get any cheaper than that.
Chili is best served on the coldest of fall days, because if you choose, it can really pack some heat. Ground beef (or ground turkey for a healthier alternative), beans, green peppers, onion and spices blend beautifully in this one-pot dish, which can be made in a slow cooker so you can set it and forget it. Serve it alongside crisp crackers or warm bread for a fall dish that’ll satisfy your craving for all things comforting.