Feeding the Family: Two Weeknight Winter Suppers

Winter in general -- and this cold, extra-snowy one in particular -- calls for warm, filling food. Slow-cooked, warm food is ideal, but most people I know don't have the time or energy for it on a busy weeknight. Many of us agree that any fresh food is better than packaged food, yet faced with a blank slate for supper and kids crying, "I'm hungry!" it's no wonder we throw up our hands and reach for a box of mac and cheese. (My kids like the Back to Nature kind, from Madison, Wisconsin.)

When I'm able to plan ahead, though, even a little, I save both time and trouble at dinnertime. I make a list and try to shop for groceries on the weekend. I only shop at my co-op (Eastside!), which means I save time and gas by not going to multiple stores, and also that my choices are limited to those that have been "approved" by the coop, which I love. Not everything at a co-op is healthful, of course, but you have to work a bit to find the stuff that's actively bad for you, unlike at a conventional grocery store. I've done price comparisons between my co-op and other stores, and if I shop for in-season and on-sale items, the co-op often has better prices on better quality items (e.g., local and organic produce can be less expensive than far-away conventional and much less expensive than the far-away organic).

This past weekend, I planned two meals around four cups of dried yellow split peas (local and in bulk) and a big head of romaine lettuce. When I got home, I cooked the dried peas. Meanwhile, I washed and dried the lettuce, then stored it in the crisper drawer in an airtight container with a small kitchen towel to absorb extra moisture. Prepping the peas and the lettuce took under an hour and paved the way for two speedy, healthful mid-week meals. On those nights, I put hummus and pita bread from Holy Land, sliced carrots, and apples on the table, so my husband and sons could eat healthy snacks while I assembled the meals.

Meal 1: Yellow Split Pea Soup and Green Salad

Yellow Split Pea Soup, adapted from 101 Cookbooks

(serves 4)

For the soup:

In advance, pick over and rinse peas. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add peas, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, salt to taste, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

3 to 4 cups cooked yellow split peas

4 cups water or broth


For the yogurt sauce:

1 7-ounce container of greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded unpeeled cucumber, (deseed before shredding)

1 clove garlic, mashed and minced

scant 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

salt to taste 



  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and salt. Cook until the onions soften, one to two minutes.
  2. Add the cooked split peas and stock/water. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cook for three to five minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce. In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Remove the soup from heat. Puree all, some, or none of the soup with a hand or conventional blender depending on your preference for texture. (I pureed all of mine with a hand blender because my four and seven-year-old sons are suspicious of chunky soups.)
  5. Ladle soup into bowls or cups and serve each with a generous dollop of the yogurt. Garnish with chopped Kalamata olives.


Green Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

(serves 4)

For the salad:

4 cups washed romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup dried small fruit: cranberries, cherries, or raisins

1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds

1 apple or pear, cored and sliced, or 1/4 cup leftover or frozen vegetables (I used frozen green beans, shredded cucumber, and leftover boiled potatoes)

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese 


For the vinaigrette
(makes about 1/2 cup)


1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

2 teaspoons local maple syrup or honey

3 Tablespoons apple cider or white wine vinegar

1/2 cup Driftless Organics sunflower oil

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, cilantro, oregano, dill or thyme

1 small garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste  



  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a covered jar. Shake well to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for a couple of weeks.)
  2. Toss the lettuce with 2 Tablespoons of dressing. Place on plates, then sprinkle with dried and fresh fruit or vegetables, sunflower seeds, and goat cheese. Pass dressing at table. For the kids, I put the salad ingredients in separate piles; they prefer eating them individually rather than mixed.

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Meal 2: Pepita Salad with Split Peas, adapted from 101 Cookbooks

(serves 4 to 6) 


2/3 cup pepitas, toasted

3 to 4 cups cooked yellow split peas

1/3 cup herb vinaigrette

4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces 



In a large bowl, toss the pepitas and yellow split peas with the vinaigrette until everything is coated. Add the salad greens and gently toss again, or serve the mixture atop the lettuce. Leftovers are excellent in packed lunches, and can be served inside pita bread.


Kristin Boldon is a frequent contributor for Simple, Good and Tasty, who also writes for the Eastside Food Cooperative's newsletter on health and wellness, and for her own blog Girl Detective. Her last post for us was "Sunflower Oil and Wisconsin's Driftless Organics"