The holiday season seems to always be a busy time of year in our house. I’m guessing it’s the same for many of you! Whether it’s Christmas programs, wrapping present, baking treats or decorating the house, there’s always something to be done. Add to that trying to keep up with making meals for your family everyday and it can be enough to throw even the most organized person into a frenzy.
Simplify your menu during the holiday season with types of meals that require little planning and preparation. Feeding your family with one-dish meals, crock pot meals and leftovers can be a life-saver on those busy days and nights when you’re scrambling around and in need of a quick and easy meal.
Cooking One-Dish Meals for Quick Clean-Up
Making a one-dish meal is an excellent way to make a fast, easy meal for your family with minimal clean-up. It can involve just a few ingredients and still provide a carbohydrate, protein and vegetable all in one pan. A chili made with leftover turkey (that you may have frozen after Thanksgiving) or chicken combined with beans and your favorite chopped vegetables can be easily assembled and be simmering on the stove while you wrap some presents. Or try a chicken pot pie with refrigerated pie crust, canned chicken, cream of chicken soup and frozen vegetables if you don’t have the time to prepare one completely from scratch.
Any type of skillet meal can be thrown together with whatever you have on hand. Just the other day, I sliced up some potatoes and cooked them over the stove with cream of mushroom soup, ground beef and frozen peas. About 20 minutes of mostly un-monitored cooking time, and my meal was done! Strombolis are a favorite one-dish meal in our house. If you’ve never had them, strombolis are bread dough stuffed with pizza or spaghetti sauce, meat, cheese and veggies like onions and peppers. They are super easy, especially if you have prepared your bread dough in the bread machine or have frozen bread dough on hand. You can also find some excellent one-dish recipes at allrecipes.com.
Crock Pot Meals Simplify Dinner Prep
The good old crock pot. It doesn’t often see the light of day during the spring and summer months but come colder weather I use it about every other day. From roasts to soups to saucy meatballs, the crock pot can do it all. I love throwing in the ingredients for a simple soup in the morning and letting it cook on low while I go about my day. If you put in some meatballs and homemade spaghetti sauce that has been prepped ahead of time, you can easily cook up spaghetti and have something ready for those days when your family is home at separate times. A cookbook I love with hundreds of crock pot recipes is Fix-It and Forget-It by Phyllis Pellman Good. It’s been my go-to source for simple meals for which I usually have the ingredients on hand.
Using Leftovers to Your Advantage
Some people don’t enjoy using leftovers, but it’s a great way to stretch your budget and your meal options. For instance, you could cook a roast with carrots and potatoes in the oven for dinner on Monday and then use the leftovers to make quick roast beef sandwiches for a lunch later in the week. Or season and cook a pork loin, then served with some rice and vegetables. For the next evening’s meal, you can make fried rice by sauteing together leftover rice, eggs, peas, corn and diced pork.
Whatever method you choose, it’s easy to simplify your meals during this busy holiday season. We certainly all deserve one less thing to think about at this time of year so we can enjoy and celebrate what is most important.
Photo Credit: edwin.bautista/flickr