Meal Planning Essentials for a Stress Free Holiday

Meal planning is a great tool to help you shop smarter, cook smarter, eat smarter and even spend less on groceries. Even in the best of times, it can be challenging to stay on top of, let alone a busy holiday season. 

Between trimming the tree, shopping for gifts, going to holiday concerts, dinner parties and visiting friends & family, it’s safe to say we’re in a busy time of year. Meal planning doesn’t have to completely fall to the wayside just because our schedules are busier.

The key to good meal planning, is to stay organized and keep things simple and convenient. Here are 5 ways to do it!

1. Pull out your calendar/think ahead. 

With more activities on the schedule, it’s likely that you may not be home for dinner every night.  Determine which nights you will be eating at home each week and mark these with their own time slot on your planner or calendar!

2. Create a shopping list.

Always go to the store with a list, even if you’re just picking up a few basic items and limit grocery shopping to just once a week. A well-planned list with items for meals, snacks, household items and any special projects, (i.e., holiday baking) is essential. This list will keep you on track to buy only what you need. This helps prevent wasted food and overspending.

3. Stick to planning only one week in advance.

Now, more than any other time of year, it’s very common for last-minute plans to pop up. Play it safe and don’t plan meals for much more than a week in advance. 

4. Keep your pantry and freezer well-stocked.

Rely on the items in your pantry to pull together simple meals, like soups and stews or a rice bowl.  Items such as beans, rice, quinoa, broth, coconut milk, nuts and seeds, spices, healthy oils & vinegar, almond butter and canned veggies are ideal. You can also double or triple your meals and store leftovers in your freezer for when friends or family stop by or for a quick meal. 

5. Keep it simple.

You’ve already got a lot on your plate, limit making fancy dinners or experimenting with new, complicated recipes. Give yourself permission to keep meals simple, quick, and familiar. 

A little planning can save you a lot of time and alleviate stress during the holidays.  

Watch for my next blog for simple and quick ideas for meal prep! 

Image of Sharon F Sharon Fowler, IN-HC Sharon Fowler is an Integrative Institute of Nutrition trained and certified Integrative Health Coach with additional certifications in gut and hormone health.

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