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Brrr! Do you feel that chill in the air? Fall will end soon and winter will coat everything on your homestead in a fine layer of frost. It’s a good time to stay inside, spend time with family, and eat good food.

In the winter, it’s likely that roads will flood, snow over, or ice. You want to minimize how often you’re leaving home when the weather’s rough. That’s why savvy homesteaders cook semi-homemade meals to get through the winter.

I love cooking these 3 recipes in the winter. Best of all, they’re cheap and picky eater-approved!

Tortellini Minestrone

I’m not always a fan of soup for dinner. However, this tortellini minestrone is not only filling and delicious, but cheap to make. Don’t let the big ingredient list scare you; it costs just .50 a serving! I like to cook a big batch on Sunday and munch on it throughout the week.


½ pound ground Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 (14.5 oz) can plain tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon parsley
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups beef broth
2 cups fresh green beans
6 ounces dried cheese tortellini


  • Heat a large Dutch oven on medium heat. Cook the Italian sausage, onions, and garlic until the onions are translucent. Use a spatula to break up the sausage.
  • Throw in the celery and carrots, cooking for 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, seasonings, and beef broth.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Throw in the green beans and tortellini. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes before serving.
Chickpea curry

Whether you’re vegan or just trying to get more life out of the meat in your freezer, there’s nothing like this chickpea curry. My husband normally hates eating vegan, but he loves this recipe. If you’re cooking for kids, omit the cayenne pepper.


15 ounces cooked chickpeas, with liquid
1 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Pita bread


  • Combine the chickpeas, curry powder, and cayenne in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until the chickpea liquid begins to simmer.
  • Toss in the cilantro and cook until fully wilted.
  • Pour chickpeas into serving bowls and enjoy with pita bread.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Nothing’s simpler than King Ranch chicken for dinner. This casserole is a hit at family gatherings, but it also freezes well. It’s the perfect dish for lazy winter evenings.


Meat from a whole rotisserie chicken
½ cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
12 corn tortillas, cut into fourths
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10 oz) Rotel
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in a 2-quart saucepan until translucent.
  • Add the cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, Rotel, and chicken broth. Stir to combine.
  • Add chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until everything is fragrant and just combined.
  • In a baking dish, build the casserole. Layer the chopped tortillas on the bottom, then a layer of casserole filling, then a layer of cheese. Repeat until you’ve used all of your tortillas. Finish it off with a layer of cheese on top.
  • Bake the casserole for 30 minutes until warm and gooey.
The bottom line

These 3 recipes will help you feed a crowd on a budget this winter. Stay warm and cozy on the homestead with these easy, semi-homemade meals.

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