The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, snow is falling and winter is coming! That also means that cold and flu season is right around the corner, which has Dan and I on high alert!
We all know what it’s like being sick and how it puts a strain on our everyday living, but when you add kids into the mix, it feels nearly impossible to function some days. We know first hand what it’s like trying to manage a cold or the stomach flu with four little ones running around and I have to say it’s not very pleasant. Some would even say we resemble walking zombies! As a family of six, our chances of getting sick are pretty high and although we try to do our best to stay healthy and avoid catching something, sometimes we just have to prepare for the worst.
One way we prepare for the worst is with meal prepping. You wouldn’t believe the amount of work and stress this eliminates when we are sick and I cannot tell you how nice it is just to pull something out of the fridge or freezer that’s already made and just needs to be heated up. I am someone who loves to cook, but when I am sick cooking can be one of the most daunting tasks. We know it’s important to still eat healthy while we are sick or recovering, which is why we prep meals we know are healthy and filled with ingredients that will keep our immune systems strong.
When I think of the meals we make during the winter months, I think of comfort foods that are warm and make you feel good when it’s cold outside. Since any pasta dish is a hit with Emily, Jackson, Olivia and Levi, Catelli pasta is a huge staple item in our house. When you are looking for comfort food or feeling under the weather on a cold day, I don’t think there is anyone who could turn down a nice bowl of Spaghetti or a plate of Baked Chicken Alfredo! I love pasta and all the endless ways to create something different and knowing that the kids love it just as much as I do, makes life so much easier.
There are so many great varieties of Catelli pasta, making it perfect for meal prepping and enjoying. Three of my favourites that I like to use during the winter are Catelli Smart Veggie, Catelli SuperGreens and Catelli Healthy Harvest. The Catelli Smart Veggie offers 1/2 a serving of vegetables in each portion, is a high source of fiber and is made without GMO ingredients. The Catelli SuperGreens is made with spinach, zucchini, broccoli, parsley and kale and is a natural source of 7 essential nutrients. The Catelli Healthy Harvest is made from one ingredient being 100% whole grain Canadian wheat, making it a very hearty pasta to eat during the winter. All three are always at the top of our grocery list and our pantry is of course stocked throughout the winter.
When grocery shopping during the winter Dan and I take turns going so we don’t have to bring the kids. It’s a lot of working taking them out and this way we can also avoid having them come into contact with a virus. As a result we end up making bigger, but less frequent shopping trips. With bigger grocery trips, we stock up on pantry and freezer staples. These items tend to last longer, so we’re set for a good month. Purchasing items like this allows us to plan dinners for a longer period and have items on hand if we need to make a last-minute meal.
One of my go to meals to prepare ahead is homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, filled with loads of veggies, chicken and Catelli’s Smart Veggie Macaroni Noodles! Growing up, Chicken Noodle Soup would always warm me up and make me feel better if I wasn’t feeling well. To this day, it’s still one of my favourites and now that the cold weather is here, I’m excited to enjoy it even more!
The thing I love about Chicken Noodle Soup is that it’s a classic dish that everyone knows and probably enjoys. It’s one of those dishes that is light, but filling at the same time and perfect when you are trying to recover from a cold or flu. I love to cook, and now that I have a family , I’ve created my own version of Chicken Noodle Soup that I want to share with you! The best part about this recipe, is that it can be completely customized to your family’s likes and dislikes. You can add as much or as little of an ingredient as you want and you can make enough for just one dinner or to last you 3 months, everything is totally up to you.
For my Chicken Noodle Soup, I take a couple of short cuts. I buy a fully cooked rotisserie chicken and use pre-made chicken broth from the store. I use store-bought rotisserie chicken because it tastes good and it’s convenient – it saves me from cooking and taking the chicken off the bone is easy to do. I’ve tried to make my own chicken broth before and it tasted great, but I found it to be a long process..It’s much easier to buy pre-made chicken broth. I buy the no sodium broth, that way I can more easily control how much salt goes into the soup.
I add in as many veggies as I can to make it hearty and filling, while keeping in mind what the kids will like. Of course Chicken Noodle Soup wouldn’t be Chicken Noodle Soup without the noodle! I like to use the Catelli Smart Veggie Macaroni because the noodles are small and as mentioned above, each portion has 1/2 a serving of vegetables, helping me pack in the veggies without the kids ever knowing!
I cut the veggies and chicken to a similar size to make it easier for Emily and the triplets to eat and help decrease my paranoia of choking. Overall, I am really happy with my recipe and it makes me even happier knowing Emily, Jackson, Olivia and Levi enjoy eating it too! Cooking for kids can be the toughest job and Emily and the triplets are my biggest critics, so when I make something and they not only like it, but actually eat it, it’s a huge win for me!
I am excited to make my Chicken Noodle Soup throughout the winter and I know this will be our go to meal when Dan, myself or the kids aren’t feeling too well or recovering from a cold. When we are sick, cooking is the last thing on our mind but, pulling the soup out of the freezer and heating it up is something we will still be able to handle.
I would love to hear some of your favourite comfort meals, as well as your favourite pasta dishes!
Thank you to Catelli for sponsoring this blog post. We only work with brands we love and have used prior to being contacted, all opinions and thoughts are my own.
Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion – Diced
- 3 Stalks Celery – Diced
- 2 Medium Carrots – Diced
- 2 Tsp Minced Garlic
- 1 Medium Red Bell Pepper* – Diced
- 1 Cup Green Beans* – Cut into Small Pieces
- 1 Cup Corn* – Frozen kernel corn
- 1 Medium Zucchini* – Cut into Small Pieces
- Chicken – I use a Rotisserie Chicken from the store
- Approx 8 cups Chicken Broth – No Sodium
- 1 Box Catelli Smart Veggie Macaroni Pasta
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
- 2 Bay Leaf
- 2 Tsp Parsley
*Remember you can customize the ingredients to suit your family’s likes and dislikes!
- Heat olive oil in a large pot and then add onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Cook until tender, then add red peppers and green beans.
- Add chicken broth and seasonings to pot with veggies. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low and let soup simmer for 1 hour, or until the veggies are tender.
- About 15 minutes before serving, add in corn and zucchini.
- About 10 minutes before serving, cook noodles in a separate pot, just before they reach al dente.
- When ready to serve add the noodles to soup and stir.
- Serve and enjoy!
Serve with fresh bread, garlic bread, crackers or cheese croissants.