5 Tips for Holiday Meal Planning

by Kimberley McGee

This the second of the 12 Days of Holiday Organizing series, which is part of the 12 Days of Homeschooling Fun with crafts, organizing tips, recipes, study units and more! 

Aside from the main meals and dishes for parties and gatherings, the family still needs to be fed. A holiday meal plan takes one more thing off your plate this busy time of the year.

I dread the dinnertime scramble to put something together, particularly when there is so much fun stuff happening during the holidays. Having a time to sit down and share a meal you look forward to, and without rushing and throwing something together, makes a calmer mom and dad in this house.

Remember to slow down and enjoy the process, the creating, the aromas, and all the memories that are made when cooking together with kids. 

Mom tip – Put the kids to work and give them a night to choose the meal and gather the ingredients, defrost the meat, the night before. 

Download the page from the Holiday Planning Kit! Weekly Meal Planner Page 

Prepare Meals the Night Before

The set-it-and-forget-it until dinner time are my favorite meals of the week.

I haul out the recipe books and clipped recipes and put the twins to work. They decide what they would like to have, with a veggie and a protein, and make a list of what we’ll need. It’s a homeschool thing that has turned into a weekly event. I put out appetizers and we prepare Sunday dinner (or wait for the pizza guy, depending on the level of stuff we have going on), and plot out the week together.

The twins each get a night and I decide on two or three meals in advance that I can put in the CrockPot, Instapot or outdoor smoker. On their night, they are in charge of gathering the ingredients and making sure we have everything, putting the frozen items in the fridge and pulling out pots to use. Cuts down on the 5 o’clock scramble to get everything together and realizing the meat was not defrosted. 

Stock that Pantry

I tack a grocery list of all the basics we use, from kosher salt to various sprinkles (chocolate and white for my non-chocolate lover). I keep it on the pantry door and mark off when I’ve used the last of my favorite ingredient that I can’t possibly substitute, and then I buy two. I have a large, sturdy basket in the bottom of the pantry to hold my backstock.

A well-stocked pantry can deliver a flavorful pasta dinner or rice bowl with leftover veggies from the fridge in minutes on those nights when the days were too much.

Last Minute Miracles

It’s the most wonderful time of year for the CrockPot and Instapot. I have a slew of recipes using the basics on hand to throw in these trusted holiday friends.

Did you forget to defrost anything and just can’t do another pasta night? The Instapot can turn frozen chicken or ground meat into scintillating, saucy sides or mains.

Simmer Down on Over Doing It

You don’t have to do everything. And no one is going to know what you didn’t do, they’ll just see all that you are doing and that’s enough. What you are doing is enough. 

With shutdowns possibly looming, you may be missing out on parties and events and be home more than ever. Make a plan for easy meals for when you just can’t. Keep a shopping list handy for marking down when you run out of those things that are a must, such as vanilla, cinnamon and go-to items such as pasta and canned goods.

Roll in Those Leftovers

Don’t let those lovely leftovers go to waste. Plan ahead to use the leftovers in lunches, burritos, salads, egg dishes or sides for the next main meal.

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