Here's How To Make No-Cook, Cold-Weather Meals That Are Still Comforting

Photographed by Refinery29.
Cooking always feels like more of a hassle on dark, winter weeknights. Before we even have a chance to leave the damn office, bam, it's bleak out there. At the end of these long, cold days, the last thing we really want is to spend another hour on our feet in the kitchen. Even though colder weather calls for comforting food, those hot dishes equal too much time and energy that we just don't want to muster. But what if we could quickly throw together a week’s worth of no-cook, cold-weather meals in one sitting? We're not talking about sad salads or mediocre ham and cheese sandwiches, either. We mean seasonal meals that are festive and comforting AF — all achieved easily without any prolonged stovetop, crockpot, or oven meddling.
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I myself wondered how such a food feat would even be possible — as my past no-cook meal experiments always synced up with cool dishes and warmer weather. But with a little seasonal ingredient creativity and a solid game-plan for ingredient overlap (a rotisserie chicken is your best friend), pre-planning a week’s worth of inventive fall and winter dishes was an achievable reality.
Scroll on to watch me assemble the seven recipes ahead that are grab-and-go, cold-weather dining goals: from Thanksgiving leftovers-themed sandwiches and wraps, to pumpkin puree zoodles, microwave soups, cranberry walnut tuna salads, and more. Get geared up to fill your favorite Tupperwares with a week's worth of comforting, no-cook lunches and dinners — no stove, crockpot, or oven necessary.
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My No-Cook, Cold-Weather Shopping List
Find everything I needed for a week's worth of meals, below (excluding salt, pepper, olive oil, and spices):

Produce
1. Arugula
2. Kale
3. Apples
4. Avocados
5. Pomegranate seeds
6. Feta
7. Rotisserie chicken
8. Greek yogurt
9. Zoodles
10. Brie cheese
11. Feta
12. Lemon

Pantry
1. Dijon mustard
2. Canned tuna
3. Canned white beans
4. Canned corn
5. Pepitas
6. Whole wheat pitas (or bread)
7. Sandwich wraps
8. Dried cranberries
9. Canned cranberry sauce
10. Canned pumpkin puree
11. Vegetable or chicken stock
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Chicken Sandwich With Apples, Arugula, Brie, & Avocado Cranberry Mash
Serves 1

Adding slices of brie and a little bit of canned cranberry sauce dressed up an average chicken sandwich and gave it some comforting Thanksgiving leftover vibes.

Ingredients
2-3 large slices of rotisserie chicken breast
1/2 avocado, sliced
1-2 tbsp of canned cranberry sauce
2-3 thin slices of brie cheese
2-3 thin slices of apple (e.g. gala, fuji, granny smith, etc.)
Handful of arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Mash avocado with canned cranberry sauce and spread it on whole wheat pita halves (toasted or un-toasted). Proceed by layering arugula, rotisserie chicken pieces, brie, and slices apples on one half before adding salt and pepper and sandwiching together.

2. Slice in half and store in a sealable Ziplock bag, wrap with aluminum foil, or place inside a tupperware container. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Chicken Wrap With Arugula, Pumpkin Puree, Cranberry Sauce, & Pepitas
Serves 1

Give your lunchtime wrap an extra layer of comfort flavor and crunch with a pumpkin puree, cranberry sauce, and pepita spread.

Ingredients
1 sandwich wrap
1 cup of rotisserie chicken, shredded
Handful of arugula
1-2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1-2 tbsp canned cranberry sauce
2 tbsp pepitas
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Mix pumpkin puree, cranberry sauce, and olive oil together in a small bowl before spreading atop sandwich wrap. Season with salt and pepper and then top smeared wrap with chicken, arugula, and pepitas before rolling up.

2. Slice in half and store in a sealable Ziplock bag, wrap with aluminum foil, or place inside a tupperware container. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Pumpkin Puree Soup Topped With Feta & Pepitas
Serves 1-2

No-effort, seasonal soup is achievable with a little help from a can of pumpkin puree and your microwave!

Ingredients
2 cups of vegetable (or chicken) stock
2 cups of water
1-2 cups of pumpkin puree (depending on desired thickness)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic (or onion) power
1-2 tbsp pepitas
1-2 tbsp feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Combine all ingredients (except for pepitas, feta, and salt and pepper) in a microwave safe container and heat on high covered for 1-2 minutes. Remove and stir in salt and pepper to taste.

2. Store inside a tupperware container, refrigerate, and remove to reheat (or enjoy cold) and top with pepitas and feta when ready to enjoy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Kale-Arugula Salad With Corn, White Beans, Feta, Pom Seeds, & Pepitas
Serves 1-2

Pomegranate seeds (a.k.a. winter jewels) are a bright, sweet, and festive addition to what otherwise may have been yet another sad salad situation.

Ingredients
1/2 cup kale, shredded
1/2 cup arugula
1/4 cup canned corn
1/4 cup canellini beans
1-2 tbsp feta
1-2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
1-2 tbsp pepitas
1/2 avocado, sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Mix kale and arugula with corn, white beans, feta, pom seeds, and pepitas, then top with sliced avocado and season with salt and pepper.

2. Store inside a tupperware container and refrigerate. When ready to enjoy, remove and dress with olive oil and lemon juice.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Pumpkin Zoodles With Corn, Feta, & Pepitas
Serves 1

Enjoy these festive and crunchy zoodles coated in a pumpkin puree sauce either cold or heated up quickly in the microwave.

Ingredients
1-2 cups of zuchinni noodles, spiralized
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic/onion powder
1/4 cup canned corn
2 tbsp pepitas
2 tbsp feta
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Mix pumpkin puree, olive oil, chile powder, and garlic/onion powder together in a small microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove and coat the zoodles and canned corn with sauce mixture before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Store inside a tupperware container and refrigerate. When ready to enjoy, remove and reheat (or enjoy cold) before topping with pepitas and feta.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Cranberry & Pepita Tuna Salad Served Over Arugula
Serves 1

Dress your tuna salad up for the chilly season with an addition of sweet dried cranberries and roasted pepitas.

Ingredients
1 can of tuna (5 oz.)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp pepitas
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups of arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Whisk together Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and use mixture to coat canned tuna, pepitas, and dried cranberries.

2. Store inside a tupperware container and refrigerate. When ready to enjoy, remove and place atop bed of arugula and season with salt and pepper.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Kitchen Sink Caesar With Pom Seeds, Feta, Corn, Apples, Cranberries, & Pepitas
Serves 1-2

Give your usual salad a wintry upgrade by throwing in a mix of your leftover no-cook, cold-weather meal ingredients.

Ingredients
2-3 cups of kale, shredded
1/2 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 apple, thinly sliced (e.g. gala, fuji, granny smith, etc.)
2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds
1-2 tbsp of pepitas
1-2 tbsp of dried cranberries
1/4 cup canned corn
2-3 tbsp feta
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Mix together kale, chicken, corn, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, dried cranberries, and feta and top with apple slices.

2. Store inside a tupperware container and refrigerate. When ready to enjoy, remove and coat with caesar dressing (dijon, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper whisked together).
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