Once the days get shorter, the urge to hibernate and tuck into comfort foods takes over. It can also coincide with a drop in energy levels that can leave you wanting to reach for easy options and takeaways.


We've made life a bit simpler with a selection of recipes that take minimal preparation and are lighter on shopping and washing up, all with a view to bringing your family together for cosy, nourishing meals that'll see you through the winter chill.

1. Sausage & butterbean stew

Sausage & butterbean stew

Serve sausages a different way with this simple stew. For a milder version, opt for chipolatas; alternatively, spice things up with cooking chorizo. "But my family don't want the same thing", we hear you say. Don't worry, we've got you covered – make half and half to keep everyone happy.Can't get enough of bangers? Take a look at our sausage recipe collection.

2. Easy beef burritos

Beef burritos

Our beef burrito filling can be cooked up to two days ahead or made in advance and frozen, making it easier to tackle this meal during the week. Cayenne brings the heat but can be left out if that better suits your family's tastes. For an extra shortcut, use a pre-cooked rice pouch. Pop the beef and rice on the table with warmed tortillas and let the family dig in.Try more Mexican-inspired recipes.

3. Easy slow cooker chicken casserole

Easy slow cooker chicken casserole

For busy working parents, a slow cooker meal guarantees food on the table after a long day. Chicken, carrots and new potatoes make a family-friendly trio and, taking just five minutes' prep time, you can throw it together before work. Gravy granules thicken the chicken casserole while it cooks, so all you need to do is get home and ladle it out.Try more family slow cooker recipes.

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4. Lean turkey burger and sweet potato fries

Lean turkey burgers

Burgers are a go-to food during barbecue season, but this oven-cooked turkey burger works just as well on a cold night. If you're watching your waistline, turkey makes a lighter alternative to classic beef burgers. Skip the bun, serve with wedges and you're all set. The kids will love the chunky sweet potato chips – and you don't need to tell them there's apple grated into the burger mix. The recipe can be easily doubled to feed four. Try these other healthy family recipes.

5. Chicken & sweetcorn ramen

Chicken & sweetcorn ramen

Sorted a babysitter for the night? Rustle up this Japanese-inspired noodle soup for the kids. A comforting broth with chicken breast and sweetcorn will smooth out any dinner drama in a dash, so you can look forward to a little grown-up time.Time to spare? Get your kids using chopsticks and have fun with another child-friendly noodle recipe.

6. Broccoli pasta shells

Broccoli pasts shells

Flavours of pesto – basil, parmesan and pine nuts – plus broccoli (the one vegetable that many kids will eat!) make this 20-minute fresh alternative to a shop-bought jar the feel-good option for nourishing your little ones.Use a parmesan alternative to make it vegetarian. Alternatively, try these veggie kids recipes.

7. Slow cooker pork casserole

Slow cooker pork casserole

When it gets dark early, there's nothing like coming back to the smell of home cooking. Slow cooker pork casserole is full of traditional flavours, such as carrot, leek, honey and mustard. What could be more soothing? If your kids want dinner as soon as you get in, dispense with the need for mash or dumplings by adding a handful of baby new potatoes to the slow cooker alongside the other ingredients at the beginning of the recipe.More ways with pork.

8. Tomato soup with pasta

Tomato & pasta soup

Our tomato soup serves two to three, but you can easily double it for a bigger family. You can also freeze it and save for a later date. Pasta in a tomato base may bring back fond memories of 'noodle doodles', but if you're wanting a grown-up twist, simply add parmesan shavings and aromatic basil.Treat the family to fabulous family soup recipes.

9. Fish, mash & peas

Fish, mash & peas

If you're journeying home in pitch black, the temptation to pop to the chippy en route may be strong. There are days when that's the right choice and others where this tasty alternative, ready in 20 minutes, will give you a warmer glow. Serve crisp breadcrumb-topped salmon fillet with a new potato and pea mash. If your kids are still at the stage where don't want their vegetables touching, keep the two types of mash separate. Either way, it's a win.More fish recipes for kids.

10. Pot-roast chicken with stock

Pot-roast chicken with stock

We're sometimes asked if it's OK to serve children dishes with wine in – and the answer is yes. When wine is simmered, the alcohol burns off, adding depth to your sauces. This chicken pot-roast from Tom Kerridge is simple, moist and full of flavour. There's no need to make gravy as the cooking juices do the job. Serve with your little ones' favourite veg.

Simplify Sunday with these one-pan roasts.

Love these recipes? Try other family meal ideas...

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What are your favourite easy family recipes during the winter months? Leave a comment below...

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