It's fall, and you know what that means cold and flu season.

I felt my first cold of the season coming on a few days ago, so I did what any reasonable person would do I took a chicken out of the freezer, roasted it for dinner, and made chicken soup with the leftovers.

OK, so most people don't make homemade soup at the first sign of a cold. (I happen to find cooking relaxing, especially after a long day at work.) But my point is that you'll likely experience at least one cold or illness in your household this winter. Americans experience more than 1 billion colds each year. Take the time now to prepare for the inevitable someone in your house will get sick, and they'll want a way to feel better, fast.

Be prepared to pamper your next illness without breaking the bank or making a last-minute dash to the store.

Comfort foods

As you can tell, I like to eat soup when I'm nursing a cold. Chicken soup is by far my favorite. It makes my sore throat feel much better, and it's gentle enough for even a sensitive stomach.

If you don't feel like making a big batch of homemade soup, make sure you have a few cans of your favorite soups in the pantry. The major soup manufacturers are all offering sales and coupons this time of year it's chilly outside, and they want you to warm up with a big bowl of soup. Stock up now so you're ready when your first cold (or the cold weather) hits.

Don't forget other comfort and "sick" foods like orange juice, toast, tea, and saltines. My husband can't live without orange juice when he's feeling sick, so I always keep an inexpensive can of "frozen concentrate" orange juice in our freezer right alongside our spare loaf of frozen bread. If you rotate your freezer stocks and use these supplies a few times a year, you'll always be guaranteed a fresh (when thawed) jug of juice or loaf of bread.

Cold remedies and medicine

I'm not telling you to take medicine when you get a cold it won't make your cold go away faster. But if you're going to work through a cold or take care of your family while battling your own illness, medications and remedies like the simple cough drop can make a cold easier to endure. Check your medicine cabinet to see what cold and general first aid supplies you have in stock now, and which are expired or need to be replenished.

During this inventory, make a list of supplies you'll need to get through the winter. Maybe you want general pain and fever relief meds for your children or yourself. List in hand, start stocking up as they go on sale. You'll find lots of great cough and cold supplies on sale this time of year. Just be sure to check expiration dates before you buy products, and don't buy so many supplies that you waste money and medicine.

Finally, don't forget to keep the most necessary cold supply on hand a big box of tissues. Grab a few boxes with a seasonal coupon, or buy a multi-box package to save.