The most difficult thing about cooking on a wood stove is heating that bad boy up, but in the winter we always have it hot and ready, so it is the easiest time of year to cook at the Crow Homestead! The oven can be used for slow roasting and baking or we crank it up for pizza…and with the bonus that it doesn’t make it too hot to sleep at night (summer cooking is tough!).
We also love winter because our entire property becomes a freezer, due to the cold weather conditions here in northern Minnesota. We can easily make double portions, freeze them and then have meals ready to pop in the oven. That is a convenience we do not have the other 8 months of the year.
Although we don’t have access to fresh produce from the garden, we do have some goodies left from it that we stashed away. In addition to what we canned in the fall, we also have winter squash, potatoes, onions and carrots put up. We also have access to snowshoe hare, grouse and venison as protein sources.
We created our winter meal plan around the food and cooking methods available to us during this season. A side benefit to winter is we have more time available because we do not have a big garden to tend and we use some of this time to cook meals that take longer to cook or might require more prep. We hand make our pasta, tortillas and bread…which has a side benefit of filling the house with the best smell! It helps lift our spirits even when it is dark 16 hours a day! We will also take on meals like tamales, cabbage rolls and lasagna, items that take more time and seem to dirty every dish we own!
Winter also brings big appetites. Mr. Crow spends hours everyday chopping wood and hiking through the snow, hunting on our property. It takes a lot of calories to keep just an ounce of fat on his body! I, on the other hand, slow my pace down to near hibernation, so one thing we are trying this year is ways to modify a meal so Mr. Crow can get the high calories he requires and I’m not dealing with having to buy a new wardrobe because nothing fits!
One last thing that makes our winter meal plan different than the rest of the seasons is that we go out to eat more often. Normally, we don’t go out to eat often as we love to cook and spend much of our time and energy growing, foraging and catching our own food. But there is something about the cold and dark nature of winter that makes it important to get out of the house and see that other humans are still around!
Click to see The Crow Homestead winter meal plan Winter meal plan
Meal plans are amazing because they limit the time you spend shopping, lower the cost of food, minimize food waste and just makes life so darn easier!! It takes the stress out of cooking because you can customize it to your family’s favorite meals and you never have to sit around wondering what you are going to make and trying to remember what ingredients you have on hand. You can tailor it to your lifestyle, what is in season where you live and special dietary requirements. So….make your life simpler by taking a bit of time now and making a meal plan that fits your life. Start small with just one week at a time. You will see how useful it really is!