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Cold months don't always have to mean boring brown food.

Arielle Weg
January 29, 2018

Though you can walk into the grocery store and buy most vegetables year-round, there's actually a strong case for shopping for produce by season. And even though your zucchini may look the exact same in June and January, its prices may not.

In the winter time, summer foods like tomatoes, corn, and berries usually skyrocket in price while in colder month foods like apples, citrus, and leafy greens are suddenly cheaper. That’s because in-season produce is abundantly available, and it's usually cheaper to keep stocked.

We always encourage cooking seasonally for lower-priced, tastier, and more nutritious meals. Here are three winter foods you’ll want to stock up on, plus how to use them.

Kale

Caitlin Bensel

If you want the nitty gritty on this leafy green, take a look at our guide to kale. There are so many varieties, and each one brings a little something different to the plate. Enjoy it raw, steamed, sauteed, baked, or even marinated for a delicious meal.

If you’re on the fence about kale, it's exceptionally palatable cooked down in soups and stews, like this Chickpea and Kale Curry. When mixed into a sauce, kale wilts and has a slightly heartier texture than cooked spinach. The sauce in this recipe has a little kick, but comes together as an indulgent, creamy curry.RELATED: The Only Kale Salad Recipe You Need This Winter

The superfood is also delectable sauteed and mixed into dishes, like this Kale-and-Chickpea Grain Bowl with Avocado Dressing. The lunchtime ready meal has a ton of fiber, so it will keep you full until dinner. Want something a little lighter? Try our Salmon with Kale, Walnut, and White Bean Salad. It comes together in just 15 minutes and packs a ton of protein and good-for-you fat.

Leeks

Photo: Jennifer Causey

With a slightly sweeter flavor, this oft-forgotten onion is a delicious addition to any meal. Leeks are a classic addition to brunch foods, like this Mushroom & Leek Hash, and pair beautifully with other egg-centric dishes.

You can treat leeks like other onions by roasting, sauteing, or even charring them like we do in this Shrimp with Grilled Citrus and Leek Relish. The fruit brings bold citrus flavor, while the charred leeks add smoky depth.

You’re probably most familiar with leeks in the classic potato-leek soup, but this Creamy Butternut-Leek Bisque is a unique take on the bowl. Blended Greek yogurt and quinoa develop extra creamy spoonfuls, and a sprinkle of slivered almonds on top adds crunch.

Carrots

Greg DuPree

Carrots deserve to be so much more than just a vehicle for hummus. They star in this Tahini Carrot Soup with Pistachios. Creamy, nutty tahini replaces dairy for added richness and depth. It’s one of our favorite bowls for a chilly winter night.

RELATED: 4 Ways With Carrots

Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness. This Sheet Pan Baked Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables gives a quick faux-fry to tilapia and a deep roast to carrots and broccoli. It’s a perfect one-pan meal the whole family will love.

If you’re looking for something even more simple, the Apricot-Sage Chicken with Carrots is a simple weeknight meal. The preserves bring out the natural sweetness of the carrots, and the gooey sauce is delectable spooned over chicken. Your kids will definitely ask for seconds.