“You can be too prepared.” — No one ever.
Stress accumulates. Patience runs thin. Tension mounts. And you end up yelling at the mall Santa Claus. There is no time like the holidays, right?! Now there are great things about the holidays too….cozy fires, ice skating, quality time with family, and remembering all of your blessings. But so often those great holiday memories are laden with the personal stress we place on ourselves to make the days perfect.
The more decisions you make during that time can make the stress build. Once you are at that point, nothing can help except the sweet relief of January 1st. But what if you don’t get to that point? What if this year, you plan now to stay relaxed later. Do your planning in stages…
– October: buy holiday decor, book travel, buy presents
– November: plan holiday menus, buy presents
– December: decorate home, wrap presents, grocery shop for planned menu
– January: bask in the glory of making it through the holidays with little to no interruption in your routine
Many of us have strong traditions tied to our holiday meals, but we already talked about how to alter some of those holiday traditions last month. This month, I want to focus our Healthy Holiday Series on menu planning.
When menu planning for the holidays, I find it helps to start with asking yourself some basic questions.
1. How many people? Knowing how many people will be coming to you holiday meal helps you figure out portions and number of dishes to make.
2. Cooking skills? Are you a novice? Know the basics but don’t want to take on too much? I would advise against cooking above your skill level especially for a holiday meal. This is just asking for more stress and worry to pile on— look for recipes that you know will turn out well.
3. Traditional or creative food? This is best answered if you know your audience. If you have friends that like exploring new foods, then research some non-traditional dishes. Otherwise, it might be best to stick with traditional favorites.
4. Time devoted to cooking? If you would rather spend your time mingling and celebrating with friends and family, then choose recipes that do not require as much attention or time.
5. Special dietary needs? Does anyone in your group have a food allergy or sensitivity? Maybe they eat low carb (like you!). Whatever their needs, try to provide at least one or two dishes that each person can eat.
Now that you have answered those questions, menu planning can commence….
As you collect recipes that fit within the questions you answered above, plug them into your Holiday Menu Guide and make your grocery list as you go. Use the search bar or select the holiday tab on our category menu to browse our “holiday” meals. Pinterest or Kraft recipes are other sites I enjoy browsing for new menu ideas.
Happy menu planning! Lauren