The holiday season is not only an extra busy time of year, but also filled with tempting occasions to overload on unhealthy foods.
But am I suggesting that you deprive yourself while everyone at your office party, family gathering, or celebration with friends is enjoying themselves?
However, I would like to share how some thoughtful meal planning and food preparation can be a game changer so you maintain a healthy diet, while also enjoying holiday indulgences in moderation.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan!
- Even if planning does not come easy to you, my best tip is to plan your meals the week before and during your celebrated holiday. Doing so will not only ensure healthier food choices, but will also ease your stress.
- If meal planning feels like climbing a mountain, start with just planning a few dinners – maybe 3 per week. It’s less overwhelming than creating a week's worth of meals, but still highly effective in maintaining a healthy diet.
- Don't just plan “in your head” – actually write it down on your calendar, which will make you more likely to follow it.
- You can use meal planning and shopping apps like Cooklist and Mealime to plan and create your grocery list.
Below are a few easy, weeknight dinner recipes you can try that are delicious and healthy (I know because I created them myself)!
2. Choose 1 Weekly “Cooking Day”
- Cooking at the end of your day may be intimidating and tiring. Instead, choose a specific day of the week - ideally a weekend day or day off – during which you can meal prep a few different dishes.
- Choose easy-prep meals. For example, you can make a soup, a big salad, and a quinoa bowl – three healthy dinners – all in advance. You will then have dinner meals ready to simply heat and eat after your busy day.
- Try a few more of my easy-prep recipe ideas you can whip up on your “cooking day.”
3. Stock Up On Pantry and & Freezer Staples
With the below listed staples, you can always throw together some sort of grain, bean, and vegetable bowl or soup! Have the following items always stocked in your pantry and freezer so you can throw together a quick meal
- Canned Beans
- Avocado & Olive Oils
- Frozen Vegetables: like spinach, onions, collard greens
- Whole Grains: like brown rice, and quinoa
- Nuts and Seeds
- Canned Tuna/Salmon
- Canned Goods: like chicken broth, and diced tomatoes
- Condiments: like vinegar, mustard, and honey
- Favorite Dried Spices: (my staples are oregano, thyme, chili powder, turmeric, and cumin)
4. Cook Double!
- Cooking twice the amount you need is a great way to always have an extra meal at the ready.
- The key is to place each serving into its own separate container before you start eating as soon as you complete preparation so that you do not overeat. Be sure to portion out the meals and store away in the refrigerator or freezer before you start eating.
5. Invest (Just A Little) In “Shortcut Cut Shopping. ”
- It may cost a few extra bucks to purchase pre-cut fresh vegetables like pre-cut kale, broccoli, peeled carrots, pre-washed lettuce, etc, … but it's well worth it if you have a busy schedule. This can cut down prep time ,leaving you more time for other things, which is also good for your stress level.
- Another great way to short-cut shop is to pre-order your groceries online for delivery or local pickup.
- Again, the extra small additional cost here is justifiable when you think about your busy schedule and how much time you can save, leaving you more time for more fun and relaxing activities!it is saving your likely-overbooked schedule.
I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and low-stress holiday season.
Find ways to connect with the people you love, allow yourself to indulge moderately, and most importantly, do something nice for yourself… because you deserve it!
If you are feeling stressed, have questions about meal prep and recipes, or just want some extra support, please reach out. I am here to help!
Have a happy, healthy holiday season!