Kitchen Tips

Keep out the cold with these warm and comforting dinner ideas

Just because the season is changing doesn’t mean we’re ready to say goodbye to the warmth of winter cuisine. Keep your kitchen toasty and your belly full with these nourishing dinner ideas.

We've teamed up with Countdown to bring you cosy recipe inspiration and all the best tips for beating the winter blues so you can stay as snug as a bug on chilly nights.
Winter may be officially coming to an end, but the crisp weather is probably here to stay for a little while longer. Ward off the cold by rustling up one of these soul-warming dinners, including slow-cooked sensations, soothing soups, comforting casseroles and firm family favourites. Bursting with all the best fresh produce of the season, from pumpkin and broccoli to leek and kumara, these dinner ideas will help you kick any lasting winter bugs and tide you over to the sunnier end of spring.

Slow cook your way to a delicious dinner

Could making a deliciously warming dinner really be as easy as popping a few ingredients in a pot and leaving it alone for eight hours? Slow cookers really do feel like magic sometimes, taking all the stress out of cooking and infusing your house with mouth-watering aromas while they're at it. There aren't many better feelings than coming home to the smell of a fully-cooked meal at the end of a busy day, especially at this time of year when daylight hours are still limited.
To get consistently delicious meals from your slow cooker, it's a good idea to clue yourself up on all the best tips for making the most of your machine. Look for cheaper cuts of meat, as the low-and-slow cooking will result in beautiful tender morsels, and even though it means adding an extra step, consider browning the cuts before adding to the cooker to reach a deeper flavour. Fight the urge to open the lid while it's cooking too, as every time you open it up for a peek or stir, heat will escape and increase your cooking time. Trust the system and leave it to do its thing!
Experience your own taste of slow-cooked magic with one of our favourite slow cooker chicken recipes. From our succulent honey mustard chicken to this cock-a-leekie soup, these dishes will make your winter evenings carefree and delicious, as well as packing in the goodness of seasonal produce such as leek, celery and carrots. Our lamb, kumara and almond curry is another tasty dish to try in your cooker, or experiment with unique meat cuts by trying out this hearty recipe for beer and thyme beef cheeks.
To really make the most of a slow cooker, it helps to break away from the idea that it is reserved solely for meat-based dishes. This Moroccan chickpea stew is a fantastic vegetarian option to make in your cooker, as is this nourishing split pea and capsicum curry. Or you could try our spinach and ricotta lasagne for a meat-free version of everyone's favourite comfort food - lasagne doesn't get much easier than this.

Soups that will warm you from the inside out

There's a reason why soup is the first thing your mum recommends when you're feeling under the weather - you just can't beat a steaming bowl of broth or veggie soup for comfort. Not only are they packed with vegetables (and even more nutritional value from the bones if it's broth-based), but soups are also a fantastic source of soothing sustenance if you're not feeling up to cooking a full meal. Most soup recipes are all-too-easy to make, with many being on the table in less than 30 minutes so you can whip up a first-class meal without using up too much energy.
Soup is also a fantastic way to use up any seasonal produce that has been in the fridge or pantry for a bit too long, making a creative and delicious approach to reducing food waste. Our country vegetable soup makes quick work of any leftover veggies you have lying around, and this cauliflower soup is a great recipe for using up stray courgettes and potatoes. Pumpkin soup is another delicious way to breathe new life into produce that's past its best, and there are so many ways that you can jazz it up to keep it interesting - from spicy to nutty to crunchy.
To give your soup a bit more oomph you can add in some meat for extra protein, like in this curried pear and parsnip soup with crispy bacon, this chicken meatball laksa or our take on the ever-popular pea and ham soup. Alternatively, opt for a filling vegetarian dinner with our spiced lentil and roasted kumara soup recipe. And don't forget to pair your creation with a loaf of freshly baked bread!

Stews and casseroles to nourish your soul

It's hard to think of any dish more firmly associated with chilly evenings than a classic stew or casserole. Centred around comfort and a rich depth of flavour, a bowl of these hearty dishes is enough to warm you up from the inside out, no matter what the weather is doing. Though a stew is typically cooked on the stove and a casserole in the oven, the beauty of both dishes is that they are usually made in just one dish, making preparation simple and cleaning up a breeze!
With so many variations of both stews and casseroles, it's impossible to run out of ideas. A traditional Kiwi favourite is a scrumptious sausage casserole, but inspiration can come from all over the world. This Italian chicken casserole is packed with tomatoes, herbs and olives, or this Moroccan chicken stew is flavoured with a perfect balance of spice. For a Hungarian version of this warming dish, our recipe for traditional beef goulash is served with tasty herb dumplings, perfect for soaking up all that delicious sauce.
If you'd like to try something a touch more modern, our one-pot chicken and lentil casserole highlights the best of in-season produce with a side of creamy pumpkin mash. This unique recipe for Kiwi Irish stew makes a great case for winter veggies like potatoes, swede, parsnips and carrots, and the bursts of peas and asparagus in this chicken casserole will make you hopeful that spring is around the corner.

Iconic family favourites

Every family has their own dish that they associate with warmth and comfort, whether it's a recipe that has been handed down through generations or a childhood favourite that you keep coming back to. These dishes are usually flavoured with touches of nostalgia - a delicious aroma that filled the house when you were younger or memories of eating around the dinner table together.
For many Kiwi families, especially those who live near the coast, this dish could be a fish pie with a creamy filling and crispy outer shell, or perhaps a soothing seafood chowder. More inland, rural families might lean towards a shepherd's pie, filled with tender morsels of lamb and topped with potato or pumpkin mash. It wouldn't be hard to come by a family whose go-to winter warmer was a rich and hearty lasagne, chocka with mince and gooey cheese. And of course, there is the classic Sunday roast, always made with love and served with generous lashings of homemade gravy.
Today, these family traditions might feature more vegetarian recipes, like our pumpkin and ricotta lasagne or a vegetarian alternative to shepherd's pie. There might be more gluten-free options popping up on the dinner table too, like our moreish eggplant and tomato pies or this hearty gluten and dairy-free lasagne. Recipes like our leftover roast vegetable quiche or leftover vege frittata might also be a new star in many families' winter repertoire, in an attempt to reduce food waste and make the most of every inch of their seasonal produce.
There are so many delicious ways to keep yourself warm and nourished as we ride out the end of the season's chill, so gather up your fresh produce, pick your favourite recipe and get cooking!