Hi friends! Who’s ready for Christmas?!
We are hosting a family dinner on Christmas Eve at our house this year. My family is so big with siblings, step-siblings, and significant others that we ended up settling on Christmas Eve as the best time to get together. We decided a couple of years ago to stop buying gifts for every single person and instead draw names and just purchase one $50 gift. We have used Elfster to do this… so far it’s gone really well! So we will all get together for the afternoon on xmas eve, watch the Panther’s game, exchange gifts and then- EAT It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just 1 week away!
I love cooking and entertaining so I’m excited that everyone is coming over. I know not everyone feels the same, haha! I’ve always worked right up until Christmas (sometimes even on Christmas Eve and Chistmas- womp womp), so I understand how planning a big meal like this can seem like a lot while juggling work, life and everything else going on around the holiday season. I thought I’d walk you through my planning process to keep things as easy as possible. And I also wanted to share my philosophies on holiday meals!
Holiday Meals & Health
You might be wondering if I care about healthy holiday meals since I’m a dietitian. This is an interesting question and the answer is no and yes. From a clinical perspective, there are always diabetes and heart disease exacerbations that come into the hospital the night / day after a holiday meal. This is because typical holiday meals can be so high in sodium and carbohydrates. So I think if you have a family member that needs to be mindful of foods for health reasons then it’s important to plan around that and offer plenty of options. Aside from that, I try to plan larger holidays meals just like I would any other meal:
–> give everyone a variety of food options, including non-starchy vegetables
–> not give a second thought to including some indulgent options- especially on a holiday!
–> put the emphasis on what is important at a large social gathering- spending time with family and friends, rather than solely focusing on the food
I think focusing on having a healthy holiday meal and trying to ‘healthify’ each item loses sight of having balance in life and with nutrition. Enjoy days like this, indulge when you want and always listen to your body.
My Holiday Meal
I wanted to share this with you because I am actually walking through this entire process today! Here’s what is on the menu for Casa de G&G on Christmas Eve this year:
- Entrée: prime rib with a thyme au jus sauce <—possibly the best prime rib recipe ever
- Slow Cooker Creamed Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Cauliflower au gratin with goat cheese
- Slow Cooker Collard Greens
- Dessert: red velvet cheesecake (my mom is making it and bringing it)
We’re having 9 people for dinner so I like having several vegetable options. Mostly everyone likes potatoes but things like Brussels sprouts and collards are always a toss up! I stopped serving rolls a few years ago at holiday meals. I feel like it’s one of those things that people pick up because it’s there but don’t really miss when it’s gone. They always feel like one more thing taking up the oven.
There are a few things that make planning and executing a holiday meal less stressful:
#1- start planning your recipes (not just an item) over a week in advance.
Look at all of the ingredients and read the entire recipe. Make your shopping list as you go along and check for each item in your pantry to see whether you have it or need to purchase it. GO GROCERY SHOPPING EARLY. Do the grocery stores give you anxiety over the holidays like they do for me? I try to pick up as many ingredients I can as early as possible (especially dry goods) and then I have a smaller shopping trip left when I need to get the fresh stuff.
#2- Never pick a new recipe to make at a large meal.
Knowing how the food will cook in your specific oven / cooking device is kind of like a coin toss, even if you’re going by a recipe. I recommend giving everything a test run to avoid a day-of disaster.
#3- It’s OK to purchase things pre-chopped or pre-prepared if that will make your life easier.
I fully plan on buying the pre-peeled garlic and diced onions at the store this year. Ain’t nobody got time for all of that chopping and peeling. Chopped Brussels are also a consideration.
#4- Plan to distribute your cooking between your stove top, oven and slow cooker.
If you have a ton of items that need to be cooked in the oven then it just makes timing stressful. I like making the prime rib instead of another type of meat because the final part of the cooking process is actually just letting it sit under foil. This frees up the oven to make other things. I always make at least 1 item in the slow cooker. It’s so nice to let it cook on the counter! No fuss and not taking up oven space.
#5- Have a few items that can be cooked in advance and reheated.
Roasted brussels sprouts, in my opinion, are more flavorful and way better the next day! Creamed potatoes are another good one- you can usually reheat with a little bit of milk or broth and have super tasty potatoes.
#6- chop things the night before if possible.
For example, if you don’t want to pre-cook your Brussels then you could always peel and halve them the day before so they’re ready to go for you!
I hope these tips are helpful! For anyone who will be taking on the task of cooking a big holiday meal this year- I’ll be thinking about you!
Have you ever hosted a big meal? How did it go? I’ve done a few now and it has been fun- but a lot of work also!
What does your family typically eat on holidays?