May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.
~Mary Anne Radmacher
Want to find time during this hectic holiday season to cook healthy meals? If you find meal planning overwhelming, you are not alone. It’s all too easy to give in to the temptation to toss a frozen dinner into the microwave. But the reality is, it’s easy to incorporate healthy cooking into your holiday routine.
Here are a few tips to take the stress and anxiety out of planning daily meals for your family and friends.
1. Healthy cooking begins with preparation.
The secret to preparing nutritious, delicious meals in a hurry lies in the preparation. Before you even get out the cutting board and the knife, think about what steps are required to prepare your meal. Cooking can’t begin until the prep work has been done. But once the foods have been soaked or cut, the cooking process itself takes only about a half hour to fifty minutes. Once you retrain your thinking to focus on the prep instead of the cooking, the process goes much faster. Then you can just go into the kitchen and whip up a quick meal, because all the ingredients and components are ready to go.
2. Leftovers are your friends.
The biggest mistake busy home cooks make when planning a meal is not knowing how to use leftovers—repurposing food that has already been cooked in a different, creative way. You can even take it a step further and set aside time on the weekend to precook food to use in your meals during the week. Then when you’re crunched for time, you can whip up a quick meal on the go (and save money at the same time).
3. Design your menu around the largest meal.
If you’re having trouble designing a meal plan, tackle your largest meal first. From there, you can create smaller meals for the rest of the day. For example, if your biggest meal of the day is dinner, begin by listing all of the foods and ingredients you’ll need for that meal. Then your meals for breakfast and lunch will seem much smaller and easier, and won’t take as much time. This helps make the whole process less overwhelming. So instead of getting intimidated by facing three meals a day, just focus on the largest meal and then build the rest around that. Then designing the other two meals, such as porridge for breakfast and maybe a hearty soup for lunch, will be a much easier and more manageable task.
When you follow these basic steps, you’ll not only incorporate healthy cooking into your holiday routine, you’ll also be able to focus on what’s really important– celebrating the holiday season with family and friends.