Meal planning during the holidays doesn’t have to be hard and it can help save you money and reduce holiday stress. Not to mention it’s healthier.
Keeping up with meal planning can be a struggle at any point during the year but that struggle increases during the busy holiday season.
Our schedules tend to get busier this time of the year and there are parties, holiday meals, and other food-related things to think about. It can all get pretty overwhelming and have us turned to take-out even more.
Keeping up with a healthy meal plan most of the time during the holidays can really help prevent so much holiday weight gain and save us money.
There are several ways we can make meal planning simpler and more suited for the holiday season. If you adjust your meal planning style to fit this busy season you will likely find you are actually eating the healthy meals you wanted to eat more often.
Tips for Meal Planning During the Holiday Season
Things will likely come up that means you need to move things around. This time of the year it’s often easier to plan out a set number of meals but not have them on a set day.
Then if you have a busy night you can pick the easier meal to make that night. If you have plans right after dinner and the meal you have planned takes a long time to make or has a lot of clean-up you will be more tempted to just get takeout.
Plan Simple Meals
This is likely a good time to stick with meals you love and that use few ingredients and dishes. It’s a great time for crockpot meals or Instant Pot meals.
Simple meals like grilled cheese and a can of soup are quicker to make than getting take-out and better for you. You may want to do more well-rounded meals most of the time but it’s okay to go to some of these very quick meals during this time.
Additional Resource: Easy 30 Minute Meals
Use a Meal Planning Service
If you really need to cut out some prep time then a service that meal plans for you can be a good investment. It’s still going to save you money over eating out a lot.
Eat At Home is a great option for this. They offer four different meal plans, traditional, wholesome traditional, slow cooker/Instant Pot, and no flour or sugar. You get all four included so you can also switch between them.
They make your meal plan and shopping list so you just have to buy the ingredients and cook the meals. Far less thinking and prep work involved.
Use Grocery Pick-up
Grocery shopping is often the most time-consuming part of the meal planning process. How many times have you needed to grocery shop but didn’t have time and just ordered pizza instead? It happens to all of us.
Being able to use grocery pick-up or a service like InstaCart makes it so much quicker and easier. If you haven’t used grocery pick-up yet most offer the first pickup without a fee. You can also get free delivery on your first InstaCart order.
Use a Meal Delivery Service
Getting a few meals a week shipped to you can also help relieve some of the stress. It’s not the cheapest option but you will still be eating at home which is better for you.
You can also usually get good deals for your first box so if you only need it once it can be very affordable. The one I’ve used is Blue Apron and you can get $60 off your first two boxes right now.
Make Freezer Meals
If you can take some time before things get too busy a great option is making a bunch of freezer meals to be able to pull out on busy nights.
One great way to do this is by joining the free Deck the Freezer Party (this year’s party is over but come back for next year!). You get a free freezer meal plan and can join others in making these meals to have stashed in your freezer for those busy times.
Additional Resource: Freezer Meals to Make Before the Holidays
One of the most important parts of meal planning around the holidays is staying organized. You will have a lot on your mind so just winging it won’t work out well.
I like to use my meal planning printable pack to keep me on track and organized. I like to print off a copy of the family favorites sheet and fill it with very simple winter meal ideas. I pull from this list a lot through the holiday season.
I also like to make sure to plan my holiday meals ahead of time and have my shopping lists ready to go. I will often buy the ingredients over several shopping trips to get the best prices so having the plan ready is helpful.
I use my holiday binder for this. I will look at my list from the year before to copy over what I want to do again. It’s often very similar so this takes little time at all.
More Meal Planning Resources
If you need more help meal planning these are some great resources that can help you out.