My Favorite Fall One-Pot Meals

It's that time of year again - Fall (Vata season). In Ayurveda, Vata season is dominated by the elements of air, ether, and space. The weather is drying out, the air is cooling down, and there is more movement happening (erratic wind, leaves falling)

More than any other season, I crave warm, simple, nutritional one-pot meals for me and my family.

We all know what it's like to get stuck staring in the fridge at 6 p.m. without a clue of what to make for dinner. Even worse is when you have a hangry family demanding that you figure it out... and fast!

I do love to cook, but I also don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. One of my goals, and what I'm working on daily, is to do both - make fabulous, healthy, homemade food and do it in as little time as possible.

For me, it starts with how I strategize my week to make sure I'm ready and prepared. I know the idea of "meal planning" sounds a little "1980s Jenny Craig," but there is a TON of value in planning ahead. All it takes is a cup of organization, a teaspoon of imagination, and a pinch of patience. I promise that the more you do it, the easier it gets- like starting a new habit.

Here’s what I like to do:

1. On Sunday morning, I sit down for ONE hour (or less) to decide what's on next week's dinner menu. I keep a folder on my computer of recipes I've tried (and liked) or want to try. I'll pull out magazines or my favorite cookbooks and pick a handful of recipes that look good, are easy and have simple ingredients. I also have no problem with recycling recipes- meaning if it worked- rinse and repeat.

2. I then take stock of what I have, make my shopping list for the farmers market and grocery store with the ingredients I need, and then get them. Just do it!

3. I like to write down what is on the menu each day so it's non-negotiable. Using a weekly meal planner (google FREE downloads) is super helpful. The whole point is to eliminate stress and last-minute decision-making, which can often end up as less-than-healthy choices, take-out or leftovers (save those for your or the kid's lunch the next day).

4. Once I've gathered my groceries, I take some time to prep things. I wash leafy greens and store in bags, I might even chop and dice veggies and store in containers in the fridge for easy access. I wash fruits (except berries) so they're ready to go.

5. With a little organization and preplanning, try to carve out 10-15 minutes in the morning (maybe it means getting up earlier) to prep for dinner that night. It's certainly worth the effort! I like to have some veggies cut and ready to roast for soups or to top a salad. If you're making a one-pot recipe from below- have everything ready, in the pot, and ready to press "play" when the timing is right. Add a simple salad a crusty roll, and dinner is ready!

This may seem like a lot of work initially, but I promise the more you do it, the easier it gets. Think of it as creating a new habit with a massive payoff. If five days/week seems impossible, start with one or two. Notice the difference in how the evening went down.

We're setting the stage for things to flow easier for the rest of the week. This means less stress, more time to relax and enjoy your evening, plus overall better nourishment (for you and the family).

Some of my favs.

Detoxifying Ayurvedic Kitchari
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens
Healing Chickpea Noodle Soup
One-Pot Vegan Pasta
One-Pot Cauliflower Rice Kitchari 
Quick + Healthy Zucchini Basil Soup
One-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup
30 Minute Vegetarian Pho
Swift Sweet Potato Coconut Curry
Fiery Tofu Coconut Curry Soup
One-Pot Vegan Barbacoa
One-Pot Lentil Dal
Kitchari Recipe: Mung beans and Basmati rice
Classic Miso Soup with Tofu
One-pot butternut Squash Quinoa Chili
Healing Ayurvedic Kitchari Glow Bowl
Crock-Pot Butternut and Parsnip Soup
Chickpea Minestrone
One-Pot Pumpkin Yellow Curry
Tomato Soup with Feta, Olives + Cucumber
5 Ingredient Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili 
Alkalizing Green Detox Soup
One-Pot Cauliflower Dal Green Curry
Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
Easy One-Pot Black Bean Soup
Instant Pot Apple Crisp

Remember, that the whole point is to make your life easier and more nourishing.

Again, like building a new muscle- repetition, repetition repetition. Practice meal- planning and soon enough it will become the new norm. You'll leave behind the stress, chaos, and unpredictability of last-minute dinners, and open your evenings, dinner, and family time for more ease, relaxation, and enjoyment.