It just doesn’t ever REALLY feel like winter until January, does it?  I mean, yes, sure, there may be snow before then; there may be bitter cold and ice; there may be biting wind.  But there are holidays and festivities and merriments to carry us through December.  It’s not until January that the reality of a long, frigid slog towards spring really sets in.

Meal planning at this time of year is never as pleasant as it is in, say, June.  Without the promise of summer vegetables and natural abundance, dreaming up dinners is mainly an exercise in trying not to give in to the temptation to eat only braised meats and macaroni and cheese every night.  But plan I must, so with the back of my hand dramatically laid to my forehead, I offer the following weeks of fortifying, winter-sustaining food.

Tuesday, January 1: Roasted spice-rubbed turkey drumsticks, sauteed greens, and sweet potatoes

Wednesday, January 2: Weekend warm-up — “Tamale” pot pie, avocado salad
Make it GF: Bake the cornbread crust using masa harina to substitute for any wheat-based flour.
Thursday, January 3: Tomato-poached eggs, garlicky greens, crusty bread
Make it GF: The bread’s not necessary, but it is nice.  However, you could substitute any gluten-free bread or cracker substitute you prefer, or provide some crispy bacon or fruit and cheese to round out the meal.
Friday, January 4: Fend night
Saturday, January 5: Chicken sausages on buns, warm potato “salad”
Make it GF: Omit the buns and add extra fruits or vegetables
Sunday, January 6: Jamie Oliver’s Steak and Guinness pie with puff pastry crust, salad
Make it GF: Just serve the filling for the pie, which is outstanding on its own, or top it with gluten-free biscuits
Monday, January 7: Pasta with beets and goat cheese
Make it GF: Use Jovial brown rice pasta

Tuesday, January 8: Slow cooker — sloppy joes, vegetables
Make it GF: Serve the sloppy joe filling over baked sweet potatoes
Wednesday, January 9: Weekend warm-up — Marinated “mixed grill” over rice, vegetables
Thursday, January 10: DIY Salad night
Friday, January 11: Fend night
Saturday, January 12: Tandoori salmon, brown rice
Sunday, January 13: Lasagna and salad
Make it GF: Use gluten-free pasta or substitute eggplant slices for the pasta sheets
Monday, January 14: Skillet chicken with peppers and spinach
Tuesday, January 15: Slow cooker — Broccoli-cheese soup
Wednesday, January 16: Weekend warm-up — Eggplant and sausage quinoa bake
Thursday, January 17: Meatballs in vodka sauce, roasted vegetables
Make it GF: Use ground pure oats in place of any breadcrumbs in the meatball mix

Friday, January 18: Fend night
Saturday, January 19: Pasta with peas and pancetta, salad
Make it GF: Use GF pasta
Sunday, January 20: Sunday Roast Chicken dinner
Monday, January 21: Tomato soup, vegetable and fruit platter
Tuesday, January 22: Slow cooker — beef stroganoff over egg noodles, beet salad
Make it GF: Serve over rice
Wednesday, January 23: Weekend warm-up — Chicken enchiladas
Thursday, January 24: Lamb burgers
Make it GF: Serve off the buns, with roasted potato wedges
Friday, January 25: Fend night
Saturday, January 26: Parmesan chicken cutlets and roasted vegetables
Make it GF: Substitute ground puffed brown rice and popcorn for breadcrumbs
Sunday, January 27: Porchetta, braised greens, mashed potatoes
Monday, January 28: Spanikopita casserole
Make it GF: Use the filling for eggplant rollatini, or to stuff gluten-free shell pasta

Tuesday, January 29: Slow cooker — honey-mustard chicken thighs, salad
Wednesday, January 30: Weekend warm-up — Cuban-style waffled panini
Thursday, January 31: Pasta poulet and broccoli
Make it GF: Use gluten-free pasta