Lighten Up The Kitchen Workload During The Holidays And Beyond
The holidays are such a busy time of the year with family visiting and festive activities to attend. Easy prep meals will certainly help lighten-up the overall time in the kitchen. And that means more time to enjoy family and friends!
- Prepare food ahead and store in freezer before life gets too busy with the arrival of company. Then it is an easy reheat when serving a meal with company. Just add the appropriate side veggie dishes and/or salad.
- Cook large or in big batches to have planned-overs for another meal on another day or you have the inspiration for a different meal. For example, baked salmon leftovers can lead to salmon cakes.
- Enlist the help of family for mealtime tasks such as making a salad, setting the table and clean-up.
Time saving breakfast ideas:
- Egg frittata – this simple egg dish can be made with a wide variety of diced leftover vegetables; it can also be made ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to reheat.
- Baked oatmeal, with diced apples, cinnamon, and low-fat milk instead of water to provide protein.
- Fruit or vegetable (grated carrots or zucchini) muffins.
- Oven-baked hash browns (use pre-shredded potatoes) with eggs baked on top.
Time-saving dinner strategies:
- Sheet pan meals with protein and chopped vegetables in a single layer roasted in hot 400-degree oven.
- Crockpot or slow cooker – a reminder to cut vegetables all the same size and to not overfill the cooking pot.
- Instant Pot for speedy cooking – perfect for soups, casseroles and stews.
- One-dish casseroles.
Some protein foods are speedy to cook including:
- Fish - have frozen fillets on hand such as cod, flounder, etc. as well as frozen, deveined shrimp.
- Cut chicken breast in half lengthwise to thin them out for faster cooking time.
- Use precooked frozen soy veggie crumbles to replace ground beef in spaghetti sauce, chili, and sloppy Joes. No pre-cooking or browning required.
- Other time-savers:
- Rely on convenience items like 5-minute pre-cooked brown rice or canned dried beans and peas (just drain and rinse to eliminate the sodium).
- Offer ingredients for make-your-own sandwiches, even for dinner, using tacos, wraps, whole-grain breads or buns. Let your guests do the work!
- Order out pizza but pair it with a big salad or raw veggie platter.