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Make-Ahead Winter Chili

Make-Ahead Winter Chili

Make ahead family meals are one of my biggest strategies when it comes to finding extra play time!  I’m going to start sharing some of my favorite make ahead meals, in hopes that you’ll have more time to play during the week.  Check out some of the MAJOR benefits:

  • Cooking together with your kids is also play time
  • Eating meals together is good for the whole family
  • Kids are more likely to eat what you serve when they help make it – at least it’s worked for me
  • Making meals ahead can make at least one day during the week less stressful

I adapted this recipe from my favorite Cooking With All Things Trader Joe’s Cookbook.

And my last cooking tip is to use Le Creuset Dutch Oven. They are expensive, but I’ve had mine for 15+ years. My mom still has hers from when I was growing up.

Yield: Serves 4.

Make-Ahead Winter Chili


Chili tastes better when you eat it the next day! Fine tune the recipe so it fits your family's tastes. You can make it as organic or vegetarian as you like. My kids like it because they can add their own toppings.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1 pkg extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-4 TBSP chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans
  • Half a can of vegetarian refried beans
  • ½ cup of your favorite salsa
  • 2 TBSP barbecue sauce
  • Chipotle Tabasco, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I like garlic salt and garlic pepper.)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • Topping: Smashed up Fritos or tortilla chips
  • Topping: Shredded cheese
  • Topping: Sour cream
  • Vegetarian version: Replace meat with bell peppers and an extra can of black beans.


  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Cook onions, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until brown, breaking it up as it cooks. Add ground cumin and chili powder and cook one minute longer.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, except spinach. Make sure refried beans are stirred and dissolve.
  3. Add spinach (no need to thaw).
  4. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate overnight and serve the next day for the best possible results.
The toppings are the best part!  Kids love to add toppings to their new recipe.

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Orange County Babysitter

Saturday 7th of December 2013

Chili is one of my go-to recipes for using Thanksgiving Day leftovers: turkey and roasted vegetables plus all the traditional chili ingredients.


Sunday 2nd of December 2012

Yummmy!! We just ate split pea soup by the fireplace as a family tonight....and then my youngest fell asleep reading parenting memories...


Sunday 2nd of December 2012

Just exactly what the doctor ordered!!! And perfect for a drizzly day, too!

Shelby Barone

Sunday 2nd of December 2012

This is perfect for tonight!! Thanks for sharing.

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