Meal Planning for Holiday Happiness

Southeast Dairy Association - turkey tetrazzi cheese

The holiday season brings us extra joy with holiday parties, decorations and events with family and friends. On the flip side, the holiday season brings extra stress due to the time we spend preparing for events and trying to maintain our normal schedules.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist and busy mom, I understand that stress, but can help you breeze through the holidays anxiety-free. Just ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you want to have a stress-free holiday season?
  2. Do you want to head out to your holiday parties and still know that kids are being fed a nutritious meal?
  3. Do you need a little extra time to plan out your holiday meals for when your family comes in town?

If the answer to all is “yes,” use these tips to start your holiday meal planning now and be prepared for those upcoming busy holiday weeks.

  1. Made-ahead freezer casseroles are lifesavers. Make a few freezer casseroles during the first few weeks of November and December so you are prepared during the busiest holiday weeks. It’s easy when you can pull your dinner out of the freezer in the morning, let it defrost in your refrigerator, and pop it in the oven when you get home. Here are some delicious, family-friendly meals that are packed with nutrients.
  1. “Theme Night Bars” let everyone have it “their way.” These dinners are quick and easy to throw together and are sure to be crowd pleasers (a.k.a. “no whine” meals).
  • Breakfast for Dinner Bar – Whole grain pancakes topped with your favorite fruit medley, nuts, yogurt, cream cheese or jam.
  • Make Your Own Pizza Bar– Whole grain pizza crust topped with your favorite vegetables and cheeses.
  • Baked Potato Bar – Baked Potatoes topped with cheese, beans, vegetables, and any topping you know will excite the kids.
  1. Be a superhero to your family with superfast meals. Heat up your favorite steam-in-the-bag vegetable medley and brown rice. Combine these together with your favorite protein such as nuts, tofu, cheese or rotisserie chicken. Toss your mix with a drizzle of olive oil, Parmesan and pepper and dinner is served.

New to menu planning or want to make it work better for you? Use the “SCALES” info graphic up top to help find balance this holiday season through healthy menu planning!

Lesley BaradelLesley Baradel, MBA, MS, RD, LD, is the co-founder of My Menutrition, a meal planning website for busy families.

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