Hearty Winter Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

chickpea curry

Subodh Agnihotri/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
chickpea curry
Subodh Agnihotri/istockphoto
Instant Pot: Mac And Cheese
Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

This classic winter soup never gets old. It has stood the test of time and endless variations, but nothing beats a pared-down recipe as a starting point. After that, it's all yours to play with, whether you top it with crispy olive oil croutons, bacon bits, or toasted pepitas.  

Recipe: Sweet Peas and Saffron

Related: 51 Cheap and Easy Cold-Weather Recipes

beanie weenies

Homemade Beanie Weenies

Another one-pot wonder here to save the day. This is one of those meals you might crave on a dreary, rainy day while you wonder what it would be like to live somewhere warm and Southern. The franks in this recipe may be a childhood favorite, but no one will stop you from switching them out with bratwurst or chorizo to feel a little more gourmet. 

Recipe: South Your Mouth

Related: We Tried 11 Hot Dogs and These Are the Tastiest

chicken yellow curry

Chicken Curry

There's something about the way chicken seems to soak up a flavorful curry perfectly that makes this dish undeniably comforting. Mark Bittman, of the New York Times, has a chicken curry recipe that comes together with a few pantry ingredients and needs only a steaming bowl of rice for company.

Recipe: Mark Bittman

Related: 50 Cheap and Easy Chicken Recipes



Ultra-versatile and vegetarian-friendly, quesadillas make for a crowd-pleasing comfort food. This recipe offers a few expert tips and tricks on when to be flexible and what to play around with. You could even make the quesadillas vegan, with a vegan cheese or bean spread.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Related: 21 Delicious and Inexpensive Mexican Dishes



This classic French stew of meat and beans may call to mind hours of toil over a bubbling cauldron, but French culinary royalty Jacques Pepin suggests a 30-minute alternative. (For other speedy dishes from Pepin, search for recipes from his "Fast Food My Way" cookbook.)

Recipe: KQED

Related: 15 Classic, Budget-Friendly French Dishes

pasta with anchovy and tomato

Spaghetti with Tomato, Garlic, and Anchovy

What is more comforting than a giant bowl of steaming spaghetti? Allison Roman offers a bare-bones recipe that is highly customizable: Don't like anchovies? Leave 'em out, but maybe replace them with olives or capers. Don't like garlic? How about spring onions or shallots? Tomatoes not in season? Use tomato paste.

Recipe: Bon Appetit

Related: 15 Foods That are Always Better as Leftovers

cheese baked beans

Cheesy Baked Beans

Cheesy baked beans — what more can we say? Arm yourself with some crusty bread and you have yourself a heart-warming weeknight dinner that is as easy to clean up as it is to throw together. Mix it up by adding bacon or finishing with parmesan and crunchy breadcrumbs.

Recipe: Real Simple

Related: 12 Easy, Tasty Recipes That Celebrate Beans

kimchi stew

Kimchi Stew

Spicy, tangy, hot, and umami rich, this stew will warm you up and make you feel refreshed and alive. A winter classic in Korea, kimchi jjigae is a simple stew that comes together in a matter of minutes and just needs time on the stove for the flavors to meld together. Prepare a pot of rice to round out the meal and temper the heat.

Recipe: The Spruce Eats

Related: 20 Foods Americans Eat Now That They Never Heard of 20 Years Ago

tortellini soup

Tortellini in Brodo

If you're tired of being at home and want to feel like you are eating at Rome's finest trattorias, try making tortellini in brodo. It's as easy as finding premade tortellini or ravioli at your local grocery store and a good quality chicken broth. Equipped with these few ingredients, you will find that this meal is deceptively exquisite.

Recipe: Prepd

Related: 50 Easy Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

grilled cheese and tomato soup

Grilled Cheese With Tomato Soup

This timeless combo might be at the top of the hierarchy of hearty meals. To make it a 30-minute meal, we welcome canned tomato soup, which can be jazzed up with a drizzle of good olive oil and a fresh crack of black pepper. This recipe's suggestion is to use mayonnaise to toast the grilled cheese for an even, slow cook.

Recipe: Bon Appetit

Related: 19 Ways to Make an Ordinary Grilled Cheese Extraordinary

chickpea curry
Subodh Agnihotri/istockphoto

Chickpea Curry

Using mostly pantry staples, this quick stew packs a whole ton of flavor. Creamy chickpeas meet creamy coconut milk to make a melt-in-the-mouth experience that you can feel good about. This recipe is gluten-free and vegan, but we won't judge you if you pair it with yogurt and naan or buttered basmati rice.

Recipe: Nyssa's Kitchen

Related: 30 Cheap and Easy Recipes From Canned Foods

whole baked fish

Whole Baked Fish

While fish, especially whole ones, may be intimidating, have no fear: Not only is baking a fish whole more forgiving than in pieces, because the skin and bones keep the meat juicy, but you can also stuff it with your preferred seasonings, playing with them as your confidence grows. Accompany this with quick-cooking vegetables that you can throw on the sheet pan to cook at the same time.

Recipe: Gimme Some Oven

Related: 20 Recipes and Tips for Grilling Fish

cinnamon oatmeal
Depression-Era Baked Apples

For Dessert: Baked Apples

Cored some apples, stuff in butter and brown sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake, and apples turn into an apple-pie-like dessert. These cheap treats are a good health-conscious replacement after the calorie-saturated excess of the holidays.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Related: 20 Low-Cost Desserts That Are Easy As Pie