What if the holidays didn’t have to be so stressful? Someday, I’d love to do an entire blog series based around that theme, but right now, I want to talk about how to simplify Christmas dinner specific, and really, all holiday meals in general.
Simple, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean less festive, or less of a feast, what it really means is less chaos – less stress. Whether you’re struggling to afford Christmas or not.
So plan your feast out, have a festive Christmas, have a joyful Christmas – because really, the key finding the joy in life is simplicity – the ability to slow down long enough to actually see the joyful things.
5 Ways to Simplify Meals This Christmas
- Decide what you really want, and what you can take a pass on. During Christmas and Thanksgiving, we tend to go into “feast” mode, and make every single traditional dish to go with it, which can lead to stressful meal prepping. Instead, think through the dishes, and ask yourself “which ones of these am I going to take a pass on when I go through the buffet line?” For instance, I know for sure I’m going to pass the yams and cranberry sauce every time. None of us really like them, so why not just eliminate them entirely?
- Prep ahead. Is there anything you can make days in advance and freeze? Can you peel, and chop ingredients a day or two in advance? Can you make appetizers several days ahead of time? Any food you can make before hand reduces your workload the day of the feast. Tip: Make a list of what you have made to put in a prominent place where you’ll be to see it! That way you know exactly where you are in your meal prep.
- Write a detailed plan. The day before a big event like Thanksgiving or Christmas, I like to take out my white board, and write out everything I need to do, in the order I need to do it. For instance my Thanksgiving plan went like this:
- Put turkey in the oven, and ham in the slow cooker as soon as I get up in the morning.
- Make mulled cider
- Make stuffing,
- Peel potatoes, and put on to cook
- Slice Brussel Sprouts
- Get cranberries out to semi-thaw before slicing
- Heat peas and corn
- Set table
- Fry Bacon and cook the bacon/Brussels sprouts dish (slice cranberries while sprouts are cooking)
- Remove turkey and ask Gabe to start slicing
- Make Gravy
- Mash potatoes
- Light candles
- Pour Sparkling juice
You can see it was a pretty simple dinner considering that it was our Thanksgiving feast, but we all picked the dishes we wanted, so it was everything we wanted, and it was completely stress-free for me because I had a detailed plan hanging on the refrigerator. It’s also worth noting that our Thanksgiving pies had been made the day before, so we didn’t have to worry about that at all.
- Use a slow cooker to keep things warm. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, cider, dinner rolls, stuffing – almost anything really can be kept warm in the slow cooker if there’s a delay in serving!
- Make sure you’re familiar with the recipes before the big day. There’s nothing more stressful than trying a new recipe on Christmas morning, so give them a trial run! Make sure they’re going to work, and give yourself time to find replacements if they aren’t. If you want to be able to move quickly and efficiently through your meal preparations, make sure you know the recipes!
I still feel like a bit of a novice when it comes to creating holiday meals start to finish by myself, but one thing I can tell you is the best ones, the ones the kids have loved and the whole family has enjoyed are the ones where mommy is most relaxed.
Simplicity is good for the whole family, plain and simple.
Want a whole lot more? Get FREE access to 55 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Cooking!
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