Fall is truly upon us and for those of us living in the Northern hemisphere, it also means that the season of cooking, baking and possibly (socially distanced) gatherings, looms on the horizon.
To help and inspire you, I’ve put together a simple guide – most of these things I have been doing myself and found helpful + there is a FREE downloadable Fall Bucket List at the very end – so make sure to stick around so you can grab it.
1. Check your spices
This is a great time to empty all your cupboards and drawers and check your spices. What need to be tossed or replaced? What has expired? Fall is a great time to do this because generally, it is the time of the year with the most cooking and baking (COVID/pandemic notwithstanding).
So, allow yourself some time one weekend or some afternoon, put some nice music one and check each spice container/jar/can. You can also do this with your pantry items, of course, but right now, I want you to focus on your spices – who, I found, often get neglected and forgotten about, especially if you are not cooking/baking very often.
While you’re at it, wipe down the containers with a clean cloth – I don’t know about you, but mine tend to get a bit grubby, especially the spices and containers that I use on the daily.
As a general rule, I like to use my spices up to 6 months after the expiration date, provided they don’t smell or taste funky, the color has not changed and I have kept them as suggested: in a cool, dry place, away from the sun. The reason for this is twofold: spices, especially the organic ones, tend to be expensive, and two, I strive hard to reduce my waste and make good use of everything that I own.
Also, how about your salt supply and pepper/peppercorns? I’ve spoken about this before but salt comes in many varieties serving multiple purposes and what better time than Fall to discover the different types accessible to us and put them to good use? Read more about some of my favorite kinds here.
2. Make your own spice mixes
It is simpler and quicker than you might think AND you have the benefit of knowing exactly what you are mixing and what goes in them.
Very often, the regular bottled spices you buy at the store have many fillers and added ingredients to cut down the price and make them more affordable so, if you’d like your spice mixes to contain exactly what they’re supposed to, here are some recipes that I have used in the past and would like to recommend to you to get you started:
- all purpose seasoning with salt – great on EVERYTHING, including salads, meats, potatoes; and you can totally skip the sugar in the recipe (as I do)
- all purpose seasoning, NO salt
- pumpkin spice mix – ’tis the season! I have used this, again and again, to make pumpkin bread and pumpkin spice latte at home and each time I was pleasantly surprised by the intensity and freshness of the flavor
- gingerbread spice mix
- everything bagel seasoning mix – my favorite, forever and ever because it is SO versatile! you can use this mix on literally, anything
- homemade vanilla extract – takes only 2 ingredients and if you start it now, you could have it ready to use as early as December
3. Eat soup each week
Soups, and stews for that matter, are endlessly gratifying, nourishing, nutritious, economical, they can feed a crowd and taste even better the following day.
The best part? You almost can’t go wrong or screw up a soup. A good friend of mine makes this “general assembly soup” where she literally throws in all the scraps and loose ends of any veggies she has in the house and it turns delicious every time. Even if you have, let’s say, overly salted a soup (not me, I swear! :p) you can always discard some/all of the broth, top off with fresh water, put it back on the stove and let it do its thing, whilst (very) carefully re-seasoning it.
Soups are also a great alternative for meatless Mondays since there are so many delicious vegan/vegetarian options to try.
Lastly, soups are, by nature, communal affairs. They are best enjoyed with family and friends around the table, or brought over to cheer up coworkers or neighbors.
In my opinion, there is nothing more cozy, nourishing or satisfying than a delicious, warm soup on a cold, dreary day.
Here are some of my favorites:
- my very own take on the chili – a classic, especially for the fall season; I have also used ground turkey and soy based mock meat in the recipe with great results
- roasted tomato and eggplant soup – as always, I changed the recipe a bit to make it even more nutritious by adding sauteed onions, carrots and celery to the mix + fresh parsley. I also add a can of full fat coconut milk to make it extra delicious and creamy – trust me, you won’t taste the coconut! or the eggplant, for that matter ;) It is fantastic with a grilled cheese sandwich
- chicken noodle soup – for an extra boost, I like to add a pinch of ginger, turmeric and curry, as well as a TBSP each of tarragon and sage – unconventional, I know, but I want my soup to boost my immunity as much as possible. And, always choose home style, whole wheat noodles to go with it, with the simplest ingredients on the list: flour, salt, eggs – that’s it
- mushroom and wild rice soup – latest addition to my repertoire of soups! so easy and delicious and I will never look back
Tip: make your soup over the weekend (I generally make mine on Sundays), let it rest a bit (it will taste even better) and have it for dinner with some sourdough toasted bread, or crackers and save the leftovers for the rest of the week as lunch/dinner.
4. Create a fall capsule wardrobe
This is such a no brainer and the amount of time devoted to create it is worth every second since it will make getting dressed in those dark and cold mornings so much faster and easier!
I actually do this every 3 to 4 months. I check my wardrobe, adapt it to the upcoming season by taking and adding stuff as needed, and storing away the rest. This is key because it makes you “forget” about your items and when you bring them back, it’s like a re-discovery; you basically get to “shop” your closet which is a great way to reduce the waste in the fashion industry AND make better use of all the items you own.
One thing I do differently from the standard recommended capsule wardrobe is that I don’t limit the number of items in it: I’ve always found that a bit counterproductive, to be honest. The capsule should work FOR you and serve every area of your life, your moods, your style, your needs, and it should change just as your life changes. Therefore, some seasonal capsules might have more items in them, others less, and that is ok.
If you are not familiar with the term and would like to read more about it, Audrey has an excellent blog post about it.
Just as we’ve done with our spices, we want to take a good look at each item that we are storing or keeping and check to see if it needs to be washed, taken to the dry cleaner’s, repaired or donated. I also like to try each item and see if it still fits and feels nicely.
For this particular fall season, I have chosen as my primary colors (the most items and the base of my capsule wardrobe) navy, white, grey and black, since I already own many items in these colors. My secondary/accent colors being camel, light blue and light pink. This makes everything mixing and going together very nicely and it literally takes me less than a minute to select my clothing for the day.
What’s great about this capsule is that I was able to use 90% of my existing wardrobe and only needing to purchase a couple of items to complement it. As always, my first place to look for what I need to purchase was my local thrift shops and then online – Poshmark has been a treasure trove of gems and I have already ordered some pre-loved and gently used pieces to supplement my capsule.
5. Create a fall bucket list
What are some of the things you are looking forward to this season? What would you like to see, experience, try or eat?
I have found that with this year being as hard as it’s been on all of us, having something to look forward to, even if it’s something as small and simple as trying a new soup recipe over the weekend, has made all the difference in the stability of my mood and mental health. It’s the little things, isn’t it?
I have a Pinterest fall mood board with all things fall if you’d like to check it out for inspiration and of course, I have also created a Fall Bucket List FREE for you to download and use so make sure to grab your copy here.
6. Invest in sustainable fall decor
Last year, I finally condensed all my fall, spring and summer décor into one big container. If I buy something new, something else needs to leave. This definitely curbs impulse buys and helps me be more conscious about my spending and shopping habits.
I’ve also started the process of substituting any plastic items that I owned for naturally derived ones like ceramics, wood, wool, cashmere, linen and cotton, and transition to soy based candles only. And I HAVE to finish one candle before I purchase another one.
If you are looking for some lovely items made from all-natural fibers like kitchen tea towels, rugs and throws, my friends at Mozaique have a lovely collection of simple yet modern items crafted by local artisans from Guatemala and Romania. I have purchased this one and this one in the past and I was so blown away by the exceptional quality of both items, the cotton being so thick and luxurious feeling.
Pin this for a quick reminder
What are some of the things you enjoy most about fall?
Comment down below and let me know!