Winter moved in fast this year and left me in a lurch. Oh, how I hate the cold. This year I have decided to keep the heat down more to help keep the cost of heating our home lower and make us feel less miserable when the arctic blasts come this way again after last years long, hard, cold winter. To help keep us warm this winter I decided to put our cooking to work. From warming us from the inside out to producing heat to warm your home a couple of degrees while making meals food really does have the power to help warm your family.
Cooking to warm your home
Using cooking to warm your home is a great way to cut your heating bill in a productive way. Planning your menu to take advantage of foods that pull double duty is smart and economical. We have to stick to a budget here and to do so we need to put plenty of focus into the little details.
Boiling liquids are a great way to add humidity to your home which helps keep it warmer. Boiling pasta or simmering water goes a long way for raising the humidity in your home. My EcoBee thermostat tells me when the humidity drops too low allowing me to take action. When I get the notification I move the menu to involve something that will bring the temperature
Cook with the oven as much as possible. An oven is a great tool for cooking as well as heating your home. A batch of muffins in the morning for breakfast can take the morning chill out of my kitchen making the heart of our home warm and cozy for the day. On child afternoons I can raise the temperature of the house a few degrees without cranking up the heat just by whipping up a batch of cookies for the kids to enjoy the rest of the week or baking a batch of homemade bread.
On cold days I love to work on the pies and such we need for the holidays. These can be heated up on a cold dull afternoon and frozen to be warmed the day of the next holiday dinner. When I do this I always make an extra pie or some baked apples to serve with dinner after making everyone smell the pies all afternoon.
Sometimes just warm smells can help make the house feel warm and cozy. A cold day is perfect to toss homemade apple butter or a batch of pumpkin butter in the slow-cooker. While the water cooks out it will humidify the kitchen and spread the scent of warm spices through the house making it feel warm and welcoming.
Food and Drinks that warm from the inside out.
I am a naturally cold person. Always cold really. One thing that helps is having an endless supply of hot coffee, tea, or cocoa. I love flipping on the kettle to make a single cup of coffee in the French press so hot I can’t drink it for a bit. Between fresh batches, it is not uncommon to a cup of coffee or tea on top of a tealight kettle warmer. In the fall I like to keep the heat off and stay warm in ways like this until the house dips below the 60s so we can adjust to the cold.
I love soups and stews, and I make enough chili to feed an army in the winter. These hearty hot meals are great because they work two-fold. Much like a hot cup of tea soups and stews warm you from the inside out. Most of these dishes simmer for long periods of time allowing for the heat and humidity they produce to be released into your home. I make enough for more than one day and either add dumplings or bake bread to serve with it on the 2nd day.
Casseroles are always a winner in the winter. Often I will make 2 offering one with and one without cheese for those of us with different tastes and food sensitivities. Sometimes I even cheat and grab my husbands favorite brand of lasagna for him and most of the children, then whip up something fun for my son and me.
When my husband lets me pack a lunch for him I make a point to pack hot foods he can pop into the microwave. This allows him to have something hit fast to warm him up and fill him on the go when the shop gets busy on long winter days.
Comfort foods like Baked mac and cheese and butter roasted potatoes are always a great option for me when filling in our menu. These foods work well in the oven heating the house while being naturally comforting when yet another long cold winter night leaves everyone feeling off.