If you think the long anticipated arrival of The Holidays (you know, the capital-letter week-and-a-half of Christmakwanzakuh celebrations) stops this sister from planning her meals… you don’t know me as well as I thought.
When social commitments are crowding the calendar leaving little resemblance of routine to be found, mapping out my (color-coded, time-blocked, hyperlinked) menu makes room for all the things that fill me up (like food, friends, and family) and reduces those things that weigh me down (like stress, scrambling, and inefficiencies).
Scroll on to read all about my approach to planning around – and for – The Holidays!
A plan that isn’t practical – or flexible – isn’t feasible. Be sure to plug in an at-a-glance view of your schedule so that you have a clear view of how your plan will come into practice. This step will answer questions like: How many meals do you actually need? Where and when are you eating away from home (and can you contribute a dish)? How often are you cooking and how often are you being served? Where do you need to pack snacks for the road?
Keep a well-stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry… and use it.
A sporadic schedule is the perfect time to pull together simple meals from your Staple Stock Ups and make a little room for a refill. If you’ve always got eggs in the fridge, cauli rice and peas in the freezer, and coconut oil in the pantry – bam! Cauliflower “Fried Rice.” Grab chicken sausage and cauliflower rice from the freezer, your favorite pasta from the pantry, and sauce from the fridge and – voila! Marinara bowl.
I’m putting this into practice this week by whipping up a batch of my Spinach Artichoke Chicken n’ Cauli Casserole (still need a better name for that mouthful). I have artichokes in my pantry, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and cauliflower (I always buy an extra) in my fridge, and scooped up spinach to complete the dish.
Mix up your prep personality.
Take on the traits of a Big-Batch Prepster and cook up complete containers of casseroles, soups, and stews that you can dip into at a moments notice. Just reheat and eat! Or, channel the Mix-n-Match Maker by preparing individual components of meals that you can compose on the fly.
Like the true Gemini I am, I’ll be opting for a little bit of this and a little of that. The Mix-n-Match Maker in me is cooking up beef, rice, and veggies (Bonus! these are also items I have in my Staple Stock Up) for Mo to assemble to his tastebuds content and the Big-Batch Prepster in me is tossing the fixings for a Chicken Marsala Soup in the InstantPot, ready for the sippin’.
Go with what you know.
You’re giving out as much energy as you are gifts this week, and you don’t need to be squeezing out the last drop sweating over the stove. Set yours up for success (and satisfaction!) by dropping your favorite repEAT recipes into rotation.
I’ll be implementing this with my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake, Spinach Artichoke Chicken and Cauliflower Casserole, and Egg Cups with Breaky Brussels n’ Onion a la fitlicity!
No prep, no problem.
Lean on items that require low-to-no prep to build snack-style or bistro-box meals. Think hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, and deli meat or dairy like greek yogurt and cottage cheese for protein, raw crunchy veggies like snap peas, carrots, and baby bell pepper for fiber, and nuts, cheese, or olives for fat. Charcuterie Board for one? Count. Me. In.
Get freezer friendly.
As much as we can color-code and hyperlink our lives, plans change. *ahem, see point one* Stay one step ahead and plan to minimize food waste and maximize your grocery spend by preparing meals that can be frozen if they don’t get finished.
That’s precisely why I planned this Chicken Marsala Soup.
Share your Love Language.
Use time with family and friends to serve up the things that serve you and invite your support system to share in the flavors (and nutrients!) you love. Offer to contribute salads, sides of veggies, or yes – charcuterie boards, to The Holiday spread.
I’ll be assembling a Cobb Salad for my mom’s Christmas Brunch and a seasonal Pear and Pomegranate Salad and roasted Brussels n’ Onion a la fitlicity for Mo’s family.
Plus, I’ll be packaging up some Truffle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts and tying ’em with a pretty ribbon for a gift that keeps on giving (until the jar is finished, that is).