It’s the Holiday Season and that brings me great joy!

How about you?

Is this a joyous season for you, or do you find it more stressful than joyous?

Disorganization and lack of planning often cause stress.
If you find yourself stressed I know of one way I can help you out today.

With each holiday we celebrate, there is usually a special meal involved. With a special meal comes special meal planning. Planning for and creating food we usually don’t. 

It’s December, and in our home we celebrate Christmas, so, I am going to use the Christmas season as my example, although it can be applied to any celebration. 

We have some traditions in our house, as I am sure you do too. Our traditions will change from year to year, as my husband has a large family and we plan around them. 

Because of COVID, this is our schedule this year.

In the month of December, we are delivering goodies to my husband’s parents. Each family took a couple of days of the month to take them a small gift and brighten their day with a masked smile and hello.

Christmas Eve the girls come over in the early evening.
This year we will watch the Christmas service online, open the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas, eat pizza, and watch a movie.
The girls spend the night and we all wake up together and spend Christmas morning together.

Christmas morning begins with coffee, hot chocolate, waking up, and stockings. We open gifts and then have breakfast.

Christmas after breakfast the girls head home and do their thing. Later that day, we gather for dinner.

Christmas dinner is made planned and made by all of us. Well, really I come up with the main dish idea and get buy-in from the family. They do the side dishes.

Today, I want to share with you some simple meal planning ideas. These ideas are great for the holidays, as well as for everyday meal planning.

There are certain things that need to be considered when meal planning.
  • What others can and can’t eat
  • What others like and dislike
  • The time frame available to prepare a meal
  • The difficulty or ease of creating a meal
  • Working with the food we already have on hand
  • The food budget

I have had a lot of experience with meal planning. As a matter of fact, before my husband and I were married he mentioned to a friend that I did meal planning.
His friend said, “marry her!”
He took his advice, and we have been married for almost 30 years. As a single mother, I did meal planning on a regular basis. I had limited time and limited income. Every dollar and hour were spoken for, so I had to spend them both wisely, and meal planning really helped! 

Since those are almost the olden days, I won’t go into detail, but just let me say meal planning involved newspaper ads, cutting out coupons, creating my own list by aisles, paper, and pencil.
These days I depend on a menu planning app. More about that later.

For the holidays this is what I do.
  1. On or around December 1 I create a menu for our holiday meals. Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are pretty easy as we have pretty much the same things every year.
  2. I am a recipe user, so I love to try new recipes all year long. Christmas is no exception. For meal planning, I get most of my ideas online but I do like to pull out cookbooks every once in a while. 
  3. After I find the recipes I will be using, I enter them into my meal planning app. Since I am not on a special meal plan these days, (even though I should be), I have been using an app called CopyMeThat.  It’s a recipe manager, a meal planning app, and a grocery list maker.
    There is a free and a paid version. Unfortunately, Apple is being a pain and won’t reinstate their app on their platform, but it is available on other platforms.
  4. I shop early. I like to have all of my nonperishable groceries for Christmas baking and Christmas meals at least 2 weeks before Christmas. 
    A lot of people leave shopping until the last minute, and that’s when the stores are crazy, and sometimes out of the traditional items. 
  5. The items I have purchased specifically for Christmas are set aside in a box away from the kitchen where they won’t be gotten into. This assures they are there when Christmas rolls around.
I try to have everything but the cooking done by December 22nd.  

This gives me a couple of days to just enjoy the season, and plan my meal prep.
Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner prep are done early on the 24th, and I don’t cook dinner on Christmas Eve. We also set the table for Christmas breakfast. Just one more thing out of the way!
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas morning are now stress-free, at least as far as food goes.  

January is just around the corner

For those of you looking for a meal planning app that does just about everything but cook for you, I want to share with you Real Plans, my favorite paid app. 
They have a money-back guarantee so you aren’t out any cash if you don’t like it. I can’t even imagine that however.

I will start using this app again the day after Christmas to do my meal planning. During this whole pandemic, I have really struggled with eating properly, and Real Plans will help me get back on track.
You get to create food likes, dislikes, can eat, can’t eat lists, there are time estimates for recipes, they have a partnership with MyFitnessPal so you can count calories and macros, you can download your own recipes and they have great customer service.
If saving time, eating healthy, being more productive, prepared, and organized are on your resolution list this year, it’s a must-try.

I swear, it’s meal planning magic!
Your friends and family will be amazed!
meal planning
PS – Tell me how you currently meal plan in the comment box below. I love to hear what other people do…

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