Find Hygge ideas to create easy, cozy, fresh, seasonal meals. Enjoy making dinner again by incorporating these hygge elements into your meal planning, meal preparation, and pantry list.
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How to Bring Joy Back Into Cooking
Hygge, the Danish word for “cozy”, is all about simple things, good friends, and Scandinavian comfort food. The concept of Hygge has been gaining popularity in recent years and, if you’re looking for more hygge ideas, The Little Book of Hygge is a great place to learn more about the art of Hygge.
As you start to incorporate Hygge into your life by slowing down, spending quality time with your people, and adding cozy elements to your home, adding Hygge elements to your meal routine is the next step to creating cozy mealtimes.
Let’s start by acknowledging that you’re busy and there will absolutely be days where chicken tenders and tater tots from the freezer are going to scarfed down in the moments between practice, school work, and showers. And sometimes take out and or frozen pizza will have to do. That’s absolutely fine, do what you need to do to keep things rolling.
But, on those other days, where maybe you’re not so hurried, or you just want to bring some joy back to the cooking process there are some easy ways to bring the spirit of hygge to your meals. As you begin to implement these practices you may find that:
- A homemade dinner can be made more quickly than you previously thought;
- There is something very relaxing about chopping vegetables;
- There’s nothing quite like the bright fresh taste of a homemade vinaigrette or marinade;
- You find yourself relying less on recipes and cooking more by instinct based upon the ingredients you have available to you.
So, let’s start looking at the ways you can add Hygge to your meal routines.
Maintain a Well-Stocked Pantry for Hygge Meals
Google “pantry list” and you’ll find a ton of lists of non-perishable items you should keep on your shelves. This is not necessarily the way to create a Hygge Pantry though.
A Hygge Pantry goes beyond shelf-stable dry goods and incorporates fresh ingredients that include your “go-to” items for creating quick and easy meals. The best things to always have on hand are:
- fresh garlic
- herbs and spices
- chicken stock
- good olive oil
- your favorite pasta,
- black pepper
- red wine vinegar
In her book My Pantry, Alice Waters (owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkley, CA) does a fantastic job expanding preconceived notions of what it means to stock a pantry. She shares her recipes for creating spice mixtures, beans, nuts, condiments, and even cheeses that can be used as easy meal starters.
While you may not use all of her suggestions (I for one, will never preserve fish) this book does serve as a cherished reference for getting the most flavor out of simple ingredients.
Keep Breakfast Simple
Having easy items available for breakfast that your family can easily grab can be a better option than preparing an actual meal in the morning.
This will mean less running around for you, so you can visit with your family for the ultimate hygge time first thing in the morning.
A few things to keep on hand:
- Supplies to make a cup of tea
- Everything you need to make a hot cup of coffee
- Hot Chocolate
- Cinnamon Buns
- Bagels, English muffins, sliced bread
- Instant Oatmeal
- Fresh Fruit
Don’t Plan Meals TOO Far in Advance
There should be a happy medium between running to the grocery store every day to get what you need for dinner and stockpiling a month’s worth of groceries.
Aim for grocery shopping once or twice a week. Your food will be fresher (and taste better because of that!) and you’ll be more likely to incorporate healthy options into your dinners.
As you walk through the produce section you’ll notice those just-ripe berries, a new shipment of melons, or fresh bell peppers and new dinner options will pop into your head!
If you want an in-depth lesson on meal planning with in-season produce, I HIGHLY recommend Alice Water’s Masterclass on Home Cooking. Not only will she inspire you to cook homemade fresh meals, but the recipe booklet she includes in the course material is also priceless!
Make Sure You Have the Kitchen Tools You Need to Make Cozy Meals
One of the best parts of Hygge cooking is that you’ll find you really do not need a ton of kitchen tools. (I say this as a recovered kitchen-gadget junkie.)
These are the kitchen items you’ll find yourself reaching for again and again:
- Good knives (I’ve had this set for years – it’s a very reasonably priced set of good knives from a top brand.)
- Cutting boards (both a wooden and plastic version)
- Cast Iron Skillets (admittedly a bit pricey, I recently purchased this pan and it now lives on my stovetop. Other than my stock and saucepans, it’s the only pan I grab. It’s oven safe for roasting as well.)
- Small saucepan with a lid
- Large saucepan with a lid
- Baking sheets (really, you just need this one – it’s big enough to cook an entire package of bacon, a ton of cookies, roasting all your cut-up veggies)
- Suribachi (a Japanese mortar and pestle – once you begin crushing herbs and garlic to make your own dressings and marinades you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this simple tool!)
- Whisks – regular-sized and mini
- Wooden spoons
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Vegetable peeler
- Large bowl
- Various Mixing bowls – the CUTER, the better. Check out these adorable handcrafted Jadeite mixing bowls that look like an updated version of the bowls my Grandma bakes with, or this complete bamboo set.
You can also set the mood for the Danish concept of a cozy sense of wellbeing by lighting candles at your dining table, setting out fresh flowers, or adding other little things that create a quality of coziness.
After dinner, settle in for a hyggelig evening by pulling out your board games and having a good time reconnecting with your family.
For more tips on how to add hygge to your daily life in the kitchen, check out this article on the elements of a Hygge Kitchen.
Eat Locally and Organically When You Can
Food that hasn’t had to travel far to get to your plate is going to be the freshest.
In addition, if have you a local farmer’s market or belong to a CSA, talk to the vendors about their growing practices. During the summer, you can make visiting with growers your weekly thing and engage in good conversation that might even result in a few new recipes for you to try.
A lot of times you will find that their livestock is organically/grass-fed and their produce is grown using organic practices. Getting certified organic can be a costly endeavor that many small growers cannot afford, but they may still follow these same steps.
Make Hygge Food a Part of Every Season
Quintessential Summer Hygge Recipes
- 20-Minute BLT Pizza with Arugula
- Za’atar Rice with Roasted Vegetables
- Easy Grilled Chicken with Rosemary Marinade
- Grilled Rosemary Steak Salad
- Quick & Delicious Spicy Cucumber Picnic Salad
- Farmer’s Market Garlic Scape Pesto
- Best Ever London Broil Marinade
- Easiest Ever Jumbo Shrimp Corn Cowder
- Easy Summer Berry Salad with Homemade Citrus Dressing
- Quick and Easy Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Salad
- Greek Tzatziki Dip with Fresh Vegetables
In-Season Summer Produce
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries!)
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew)
- Summer Squash
As the weather begins to cool, your meals can get a little heartier and soups start to make a welcome appearance again. Stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls incorporate the season’s harvest into some of our favorite comfort foods.
Favorite Fall Recipes
Favorite Fall Recipes to Envoke a Feeling of Coziness
- Roasted Everything Bagel Potatoes
- Slow Cooker Balsamic Roast Pork
- Easiest Ever Slow Cooker Mexican Pork Carnitas
- Quick and Easy Steak Pasta Dinner
- No-Fail Baked Chicken Parmesan
- Instant Pot Chicken Green Enchilada Soup
- 30-Minute Chicken Paprikash Soup
- The Most Addicting Chicken Pasta Salad Ever with Broccoli
- Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower
In-Season Fall Produce
- Bell Peppers
- Brussel Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potatoes/Yam
- Winter Squash
Winter is truly the season of hygge and cozy meals call for heartwarming stews, creamy mashed potatoes, and stick to your ribs meals like Salisbury steak and spaghetti and meatballs.
Favorite Winter Recipes the Danish Way – Extra Cozy
- Easiest Every Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 4-Ingredient Instant Pot Italian Beef
- Comforting Instant Pot Beef Stew
- 15-Minute Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese
- Comforting Salisbury Steak
- Super Moist Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- Groud Beef Stuffed Peppers – Never Soggy!
- Instant Pot Greek Chicken with Orzo
In-Season Winter Produce
- Brussel Sprouts
- Sweet Potatoes & Yams
- Winter Squash
As the frigid winter nights turn into cool, rainy spring mornings we start to see more delicate dishes hit the menu – salads begin making a comeback, brunch items like fresh quiches start making an appearance, and healthy salmon begins to replace heavier proteins.
Favorite Spring Recipes for Bright Nordic Evenings
- 15-Minute Everything Bagel Seasoning Salmon
- Kid-Friendly Egg McMuffin Quiche Recipe
- Easiest Ever Chicken Pesto Pasta (Only 3-Ingredients!)
- Fresh Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche
- Everyone’s Favorite Sweet Broccoli Salad
- Grilled Chicken & Chickpea Salad with DIY White Wine Dressing
- Sesame Snow Peas Side Dish
In-Season Spring Produce
Leave Room for Dessert
The Danish love their sweets and evenings and weekends often involve dessert and a steaming cup of coffee or tea.
Here are a few really easy dessert recipes you can whip up quickly, share with your family, and enjoy the next morning with a cup of your favorite hot beverage.
- Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
- 4-Ingredient Banana Bread
- Skinny 5-Ingredient Banana Cream Pudding
- 4-Ingredient Almond Joy Cookies
- 5-Ingredient Cinnamon Roll Crescents
- Easy 2-Ingredient Angel Food Lemon Bars
- 5-Ingredient Lemon Zucchini Bread Recipe (starts with a cake mix!)
Final Thoughts on Hygge and Cozy Meals
Now that you’ve got dinner (and maybe dessert!) planned here are some ideas to make mealtime even cozier.
- Turn down the lights and eat by candlelight.
- Serve dinner on cute dishes and with your prettiest glasses.
- Conversely, get out the paper plates and have a picnic on the floor – no dishes tonight!
- Serve your meal family-style, build your own, or on a board to make eating even more fun.
More Ways to Add Hygge to Your Life and Home
- How to Make Your House Feel Like a Destination
- How to Quickly Make Your Bedroom Cozy
- Your Ultimate Guide to Hygge – Cozy Life & Cozy Home
- Give Your Living Room a Cozy Makeover – No renovation required
- How to Make Your Home Warm & Cozy with Hygge This Fall
- How to Make the Most Comfortable Bed in the World
- How to Hygge Your Kitchen for Summer
- How to Always Have Soft & Fluffy Towels
- Creative Ways to Add Simple Luxury to Your Home