Holiday season meal tips when you’re pinched for time
Much of the holiday season can seem like a blur, during which busy men and women spend much of their time running here and there. Holiday supplies need to be purchased, homes need to be decorated and gifts must be bought and wrapped.
During the busy holiday season, men and women pressed for time may be tempted to turn to the convenience of fast food come mealtime. While these fast foods may be convenient, the cost of dining out each night and the lack of adequate nutrition may not justify the convenience. But no matter how busy men and women may be during the holiday season, there are still ways to eat healthy meals that don’t take much time to prepare.
Meal preparation can take a lot of time. But buying ingredients in advance, and saving the trouble of last-minute trips to the grocery store, can make prep work go much more smoothly and quickly.
Devote some time on the weekend to stocking up on ingredients you will need for the week ahead. Stock up on storage containers so that food can be packaged into the refrigerator or freezer.
Prepare rice and parboil pasta to use as a starchy and filling base to some recipes. Peel, dice and chop vegetables and store in containers for later use during the week. Separate meat and poultry into smaller, meal-sized containers so you only thaw out what you need for a given meal.
Have a plan
Create a menu plan so you will know which recipes to create and when. Build room into your meal plan for really quick meals, such as a soup and sandwich night or breakfast for dinner.
Planning a meal weekly meal schedule saves you time because you won't be searching for recipes each weeknight. Such planning also helps you to ensure there's plenty of variety in your weekly meals.
Seek help from slow cookers
A slow cooker can be a real time-saver during the holiday season. Slow cookers can be set to cook while you're out of the house. When you return, you will find the meal ready and waiting.
Slow cookers are very popular, and as a result it's easy to find recipes both online and in cookbooks. Slow cookers can be used to prepare sauces, soups, roasts, casseroles, and so much more. To make slow cookers even more convenient, prepackage ingredients for recipes in advance, storing them in a plastic zip-top bag. Then simply pour the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning before leaving for work.
Expand your horizons
A meal need not always be a three-course offering. On days you expect to be particularly busy, plan for a no-heat meal. Cold cut sandwiches and salad can fit the bill. A platter of finger foods, such as cheeses and crackers, fruit, and vegetable sticks with dips, can be filling as well. If the kids are requesting a bowl of cereal, let them have it and save time. Eggs and reheated leftovers and quick and easy to prepare.
Budget for a few meals on the go. When shopping at the mall, stop into a restaurant for a sit-down meal. Doing so will save time and you can enjoy a well-deserved respite from cooking duties.