Meal-Planning Hacks for the Holiday Season

It can be a challenge to stay organized with meal planning during a busy holiday season, which can lead to more money spent on meals out, and thwarted health goals. Luckily, Faith from the Kitchn has some great tips for how to keep your planning in check while also making room for flexibility in her recent post 10 Tips for Meal Planning During the Holidays.

In my experience, with people in town visiting and holiday activities on the calendar, I don't want to plan too many meals for the week in order to avoid food waste. Additionally, I am to preparing to host Christmas this year at our home. My typical approach to hosting is to downplay what I have to do while repeating the mantra, "KEEP IT SIMPLE!" Then, true to form, a few days before the event, I have a bit of a meltdown as I pour over recipes and make everything complicated.

Luckily, three years ago, I compiled a holiday menu: photocopied all of the recipes I used from various cookbooks, created a complete shopping list and a daily timeline of prep-ahead ingredients, and put it all into a handy reference packet. Very teacher-y of me, I know. The final step is, of course, to actually follow it (allowing for changes and substitutions, because FLEXIBILITY is key).

 Daily Prep and Shopping List.

Daily Prep and Shopping List.

   Daily prep and shopping list.

Daily prep and shopping list.

   Crustless squash or pumpkin pie from    The Healthy Cooking Coach   , Chef Rachel Albert

Crustless squash or pumpkin pie from The Healthy Cooking Coach, Chef Rachel Albert

But wait, there's one more step: ask for help. The tendency for some of us to want to do everything ourselves is counterproductive, so asking a few people who will join you at the party to bring a side dish, a salad, cups, drinks, or anything they want, etc. can lift a huge weight off of your shoulders. You know when people say, "is there anything I can bring?" Instead of your automatic, "no thank you," reply, simply say, "why yes, that would be so helpful! Would you mind bringing (insert item here)."

As you plan to make food this season, keep a record of what you have made, take notes, take a picture, and put everything in an electronic or paper folder. That way, you don't have to reinvent the wheel the next time you are tasked with preparing something for an event.

 Once compiled, save all recipes and notes from events in a binder for quick reference.

Once compiled, save all recipes and notes from events in a binder for quick reference.

Maybe you are a party planner extraordinaire, in which case, I salute you. I am a bit jealous of you, actually. But, if you're anything like me and you don't have the party planning gene, keep it simple, ask for help, and for goodness' sake, HAVE FUN AND RELAX! This time of year is better when you stop and enjoy moments with those you love, so don't forget to offer joyful gratitude for them, for the abundance in your life, for delicious food, and for the time we have to celebrate.

B Well,

Cynthia