How to Stock Your Kitchen for a Winter’s Worth of Cozy Dishes

Make sure your pantry and fridge are ready to go.

November 29, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

We’ve teamed up with Albertsons Companies to share tips and tricks for stocking your kitchen this winter. Whether your local store is Safeway, ACME, or one of Albertsons Companies’ 19 other supermarkets across the country, download their free Deals & Delivery mobile app. And don’t forget to join their for U™ Member program to get weekly personalized deals, redeem Rewards for discounts on groceries, receive an annual birthday treat, and even get a free item every month—all for no membership fee or monthly cost. Not a member yet? Here’s a sweet "Welcome" offer: Get $5 off your next online grocery order of $25 or more.

Hot take: I love winter—in fact, it’s my favorite season. Why? It’s the time of year for curling up by the fireplace with a good book, skiing and snowshoeing, and of course, cold-weather cooking (my favorite).

In the summer, I try my best to be out of the kitchen as much as possible. But once the thermometer dips, I take on projects I’ve been itching to make all year, like homemade pasta, pavlovas, cakes, and cookies. The longer I get to spend in the kitchen, the better. To me, winter cooking means lots of braised meats, pastas of all kinds, and cheese aplenty. Before starting to dream up everything I want to make, I make sure my pantry is ready to go with all the essentials—here’s how.

Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

1. Shop Smart

If you’re anything like me, once it starts getting dark at 5:00 p.m. and the cold is almost too much to bear, grocery shopping is the last thing I want to do (and I say this as a grocery-shopping lover). That's why I am a fan of Albertsons Companies’ for U™ Member program. Not only can you build your shopping list from the comfort of home (and save precious time at the grocery store), but you also get perks like personalized deals on items you buy frequently, a free monthly item, and even a birthday treat.

2. Stock Up on Pantry-Friendly Grains

Everyone has their own list of pantry staples that they can’t cook without. As a recipe tester, I tend to go a bit overboard in making sure I have a well-stocked array of items for testing and weeknight dinners alike. For starters, there’s always a few kinds of pasta hanging around—I keep bucatini and fettuccine for creamy sauces, rigatoni for hearty ragus, orecchiette for pesto made with winter greens, and no-boil pasta sheets when I’m in the mood for lasagna. Rice is one of my favorite foods (and great for building meals), so I always have a couple options on hand like basmati, brown, and arborio for risotto. Other grains I keep in my pantry this time of year: farro, barley, and millet.

3. Go Big on Canned Goods

My pantry is fully stocked with an assortment of canned goods year round, but especially during winter. Here’s why: Canned goods are not only ideal for stretching fresh ingredients you already have, but they’re also great for making easy, pantry meals. Not to mention, they’re an easy way to incorporate ingredients that might otherwise be out of season. Canned tomatoes and paste means being able to whip up Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce or a big pot of Bolognese. Coconut milk is great for last-minute curried lentils, aromatic Burmese braised chicken, or even a unique take on shrimp and grits. I use tinned fish for easy weeknight pastas, tuna salad, or even sardines on toast. And canned beans just beg for a chili night.

4. Make the Most of the Season

Winter produce gets a bad rep for being boring, but I’m here to change your mind. From a bevy of root vegetables, squashes, and brassicas to a kaleidoscope of chicories and hearty greens (oh, and did I mention citrus?), winter brings forth so many exciting ingredients to work with. Rather than make the same old recipes, try some of these fresh ideas—they just might become a part of your weeknight winter rotation. There’s cauliflower gratin smothered in mornay sauce, Parmesan risotto swirled with blitzed broccoli rabe, grilled chicory salad, gooey citrus pudding (it’s best straight from the oven), seasonally appropriate butternut squash galette with garlicky ricotta, and so much more.

5. Don’t Skip the Frozen Aisle

For all the glory of winter produce, I understand that some moments call for warmer-weather, out-of-season produce. This is where the frozen aisle comes in. While you can, of course, stock up on items like frozen pizza, waffles, pre-made meals, and more, I get the most out of the frozen produce assortment. Stocking up on items like frozen berries, fruit, and vegetables, mean that smoothies, stews, and soups can come together in no time. Since most frozen food is actually frozen right after harvesting, you can be assured you’re still getting the freshest food possible.

What are some of your favorite cold-weather dishes? Tell us in the comments!

Check out the free Member programs at supermarkets from our partner Albertsons Companies, like ACME for U™, Albertsons for U™, Carrs for U™, Jewel-Osco for U™, Pavilions for U™, Randalls for U™, Safeway for U™, Shaw’s for U™, Star Market for U™, Tom Thumb for U™, and Vons for U™.

The All for Farmers Market

We’ve joined forces with Tillamook to support All For Farmers—a coalition benefiting farmers across the nation—with a special market that gives back. Featuring Shop all-stars and a limited-edition Five Two apron, a portion of proceeds from every purchase supports American Farmland Trust’s Brighter Future Fund.

The All for Farmers Market

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Alexis deBoschnek is a freelance recipe developer, cook, and video host based in the Catskills.