UACES Facebook How to Plan Smaller Holiday Meals
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You can get a head start on holiday preparations by planning meals now! You may be having smaller celebrations this year, so gather up some tips and tricks to keep your celebrations healthy without breaking the bank and your sanity.

How to Plan Smaller Holiday Meals

holiday meal on table
A small celebration can still be tasty!

by Katie Cullum

What are you having for Thanksgiving?  You probably have some ideas so go ahead and start making notes! 

Meal Plan letter tiles on blue plate

Plan –

Why not plan for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s at once?  That way, you can get all the hard work of thinking and planning over with at one time (or am I the only one that stresses over the planning?!). Download my simple meal-planning worksheet – you’ll have the Big 3 meals in one place.  You’ll want to keep food allergies and sensitivities in the forefront while also keeping strong likes/dislikes in mind.  It can get complicated if you have some that are gluten-free or dairy-free while others HAVE to have lots of cheese but don’t like any green veggies.

Smaller Meals -

And with this pandemic and current recommendations for gatherings from the CDC, you may have smaller gatherings.  So don’t plan a huge meal if your family doesn’t like a lot of leftovers.  Limit the numbers of dishes.  Do you really need a big turkey AND a pork roast?  Or could you go with a turkey breast and maybe a small pork roast (or just one or the other)?  Do you need 10 different sides or could you just have 5?  Do you need 3 pies, 2 cakes, and cookies?  Keep in mind, you can have some other family favorites at another meal during the holidays – so if you don’t have that lime gelatin salad at Thanksgiving, could you have it at Christmas?

Smart Shopping -

shopping cards lined up
Go to the store when it's not as crowded, and don't shop when you're hungry!

The stores will begin to have specials on some foods that are used in holiday festivities, such as turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, etc.  Keep an eye on ads or apps and purchase the items you will be using to prepare these meals.  Many of the things may be on sale a month or more before the holidays, so purchase them and freeze them for the holidays.

Planning ahead -

This is also a good time to purchase extra sugar, flour, etc. that you may need to do your holiday baking. You don’t want to hoard if the stores are low in some things – be sure you purchase just what you need.  If you are giving cookies, cakes, or breads for gifts, why not buy the ingredients when they are on sale and start baking early?  Freeze the baked goods (cookies, breads and cakes can be made and frozen a month in advance). Download this great guide for freezing everything from the National Center For Home Food Preservation.


Start planning today – head over to my Facebook page and post a photo of your meal plan to be entered in a drawing!  Check back soon for how to plan all the OTHER meals around the holidays without going insane.