Now that we are squarely settled into fall, there is nothing I want more than a meal plan full of dinners that are hearty, warming, and above all else blissfully comforting. Here's how I'm making it happen without sacrificing the ease and simplicity that I require for weeknight dinners.
From an ultra-luxe slow cooker black bean chili to a Buffalo chicken pasta bake, these five recipes will show you how to fill your fall meal plan with the coziest dinners ever, no matter what your schedule looks like.
What to Expect from These Cozy Weeknight Dinners
First and foremost, my number-one requirement for weeknight dinners is that they must be easy. That means no recipes with a laundry list of ingredients, or ones that require a lot of prep or time tending to a pot on the stove. With that in mind, these recipes are simple and straightforward.
To make weeknight comfort food easy, these recipes lean on smart grocery store shortcuts, make-ahead moments, inspiration from childhood classics, and cookware choices that make dinner a little easier.
Lean on your slow cooker for easy comfort.
Is there anything that comes out of the slow cooker that doesn't feel immensely comforting? I don't think so. And with the right recipes in hand, it can seem like the slow cooker completely takes over dinner duty for you. Case in point? This ultra-hearty meatless black bean chili that will be adored by vegans and omnivores alike. It starts with dried beans so it benefits from an all-day cook time. You can stir it together in the morning and come home to a warm meal.
Your slow cooker is also your ticket to saucy ranch chicken sandwiches (which can easily be made ahead and reheated before dinner). Made in the slow cooker, the chicken breast stay super juicy while it cooks.
The coziest dinners involve a comfort food mash-up.
Double down on comfort foods, and there is no question that you'll be tucking into the coziest meal of the week. There is a nostalgic bliss that comes with adding meatloaf to the menu, but take inspiration from French onion soup by stirring in a mess of caramelized onions and finishing it off with melty Gruyère, and suddenly it is a force to be reckoned with.
If chicken wings slicked with Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing make you weak in the knees, just imagine the goodness that awaits when you bring those ingredients to a weeknight-friendly pasta bake. It starts with a rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken breast to make dinner even easier.
Reimagine the nostalgic meals of your childhood (with a grown-up twist).
If SpaghettiOs had a place in your childhood pantry, you will definitely appreciate our grown-up (and more wholesome) version of pasta Os and meatballs. It's saucy, rich, and downright comforting — but perhaps best of all, it comes together in a single pot for easy cooking and cleanup.