Fall is finally here!  You can tell by the changing leaves, the cool crisp air (on some days), and the aggressive pumpkin spice latte marketing. When it gets colder out, I like to use my crockpot because you can just throw a bunch of stuff in at night and something delicious comes out on a cold morning when you don’t feel like eating cereal. These one-pot meals are perfect for fall and perfect for med student schedules.

As an example, chili is really simple and flexible.  It’s a recipe of general categories: protein, heat, veggies, tomatoes, stock, and spices.  There are plenty of ways to customize chili recipes to reflect your tastes or your fridge leftovers.

My typical chili base includes a can of diced tomatoes, soup stock, cumin, chili powder, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. From there, you just add some protein and veggies.  Here are some of my favorite combinations:

Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and corn with onions and garlic

Vegetables: black beans, onions, corn, kabocha squash, bell peppers, broccoli

Meat: Red kidney beans, ground turkey or beef, Italian sausage, onions, green bell peppers.

Basic ingredients:

Protein: 1 package ground turkey, 1 can of black beans

Heat: chili powder and/or red chili flakes

Veggies: ½ onion, 1 green bell pepper, butternut squash, 1 bunch cilantro (kind of a veggie)

1 Can diced tomatoes, 4 cups chicken stock

Spices: cumin, salt, pepper to taste


Prep veggies: chop half an onion and a green bell pepper into bite size pieces.  Just use the leaves of the cilantro and toss the stems.  Rinse the beans.

Butternut squash: If working with a whole squash, cut off a quarter inch or so off the top and bottom (you’re creating a flat surface to stabilize the squash).  Use a peeler to peel from top down – it’s a bit tough to peel raw, so you may want to microwave for a few minutes to soften it. Then chop into bite size pieces. (Or you can save yourself the trouble and buy cubed butternut squash!)

Caramelize the onions in a skillet with some oil over medium heat until soft and translucent.  Then mix in the ground meat, breaking it up into chunks as it cooks.  Season with heat and spices to taste.

When the meat is browned, throw it into the crockpot with the beans, veggies, soup stock, tomatoes, more heat, and more spices.

Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours (overnight).

Top with cheese, avocado, chips, or sour cream. You’ve got yourself a magical fall meal!