Holiday Meal Hacks to Fast Track Your Feast
…You’re less than 3 weeks from the next big holiday!
Now if that doesn’t send you signing carols, then stick with me, because in this series I’m pushing my fancy chef’s hat aside to give you the fast and dirty holiday menu anyone (and I seriously mean anyone), can do.
Maybe you did ALL that you could to get that Thanksgiving meal or dish out the door and now you want to relax. Perhaps your focus is going toward family, friends, and holiday spirit this year, instead of hosting the “perfect” event. Or hey, maybe you just said, “flick it” (see what I did there?) and have decided to take it easy.
Whatever your reason for wanting holiday meal hacks, I don’t blame you. Actually, I applaud you!
After all, the holidays shouldn’t be about who’s stuffing was best, how impressive dessert looked, or how hoity-toity the table was set. It should be about stuffing yourself with delicious food, surrounded by loved ones, without a care in the world.
Yes, that does mean NO stressing about your weight – you’ll get to that in 2018! …just like last year, right? Of course…
Tis the season to channel all that stress and anxiety out the freakin’ window, so let’s get to it, I know you don’t have much time.
Part 1: Setting the Scene
In this first part, I’ll go over how to set the scene for your feast. As we all know, everyone does the holidays differently, so please make this guide your own. If you have questions, I’m dying to answer them! Just add them in the comments section below or on my Facebook page.
After we set the scene in part one, I’ll follow up with the food hacks you need to make this holiday amazingly easy, fantastically fun, simple, and of course, absolutely delicious.
Grab Your Group
The first thing you need to do when trying to hack your holiday meal, is grab your group. The less people, the less food; ergo, the more people the more food! So the name of the game is numbers.
That’s right, we’re hacking the holidays divide and conquer style. Why should you be stressing when everyone else is relaxing? If we all pitch in, everyone gets a chance at actually enjoying the time we have together, and that’s what this is all about.
See who’s going to be in town and then reach out to family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, the “long-lost” in your life, randoms – really, you want whoever can contribute to the meal. Remember, it’s a game of numbers. With the hustle, hassle, and cost of meal planning around the holidays, the need for camaraderie in the kitchen brings people together.
There you go…you’re already bringing people together, which is holiday cheer 101, but without the muss or fuss.
Once you’ve wrangled your holiday supper club, everyone needs to call-out what exactly they’re going to contribute.
Use an email thread where everyone “replies all”, an Evite, a Paperless Post, or a good ol’ fashioned group text message so that everyone can see what everyone else is bringing as they call it out. You don’t want 3 of the same dish, right?
This is also a great way to get everyone’s weird food allergies, preferences, restrictions, etc. out of the way. If you have a gaggle of vegetarians, you’re going to need an alternative to giblet gravy. Perhaps a tofurkey is in order? Got a lot of gluten-free guests? You may need more veggies than stuffing. No one eating sugar in December? Who cares! Desserts always get eaten!
Don’t forget the drinks, mixers, plates, utensils, cups, ice, coolers, games, menorah, scratch cards, prizes…or whatever else your group needs to get down. There’s nothing wrong with paper plates, plastic forks, and red solo cups just because it’s the holidays. In fact, they can look rather festive, so don’t turn your nose up unless you’d like to do all the dishes.
This is where all the cooking-phobic guests can really shine. Claim one of these non-food must haves quick and you’ll be in the clear, but still come out a hero.
A Holiday Menu
Like I said, everyone does the holidays differently, so make your menu your own. If however, you’re struggling to put together a “traditional” feast, here’s a list of ideas for you to pick over.
You can list these categories and have your super club members choose what they want to contribute, or you can just go willy-nilly and let people bring whatever they choose. That last option may still result in asking people to bring specifics as necessary…there are just somethings you can’t go without.
You’re probably going to want more than one type of appetizer regardless of how many guests are attending. Everyone likes to get a good base going before the main event.
I suggest one cold app and one hot. If room in the oven is an issue, and the toaster oven is full, and you don’t have a warming drawer (because c’mon, who really has one of those things?), then go for something room temperature.
Soup and/or Salad:
This is another option that could go warm or cold depending on what you have space for. If this will be part of your meal, be sure to account for bowls, spoons, and dressing options.
The Main Meat Event:
Whether it’s ham, turkey, roast beef, pork loin, tofurkey, or roadkill, the main meat event is a staple of the holiday spread. Consider necessary carving utensils, heating devices, serving platters, GRAVY, etc. that will be necessary to handle what you’re serving. The main meat event is the heart and soul of the holiday meal so make sure someone (and that may be you) is on top of it.
Sides: Dressing/Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Mac n’ Cheese, and/or Roasted Veggies:
You’re going to need a hearty side to soak up all the booze of holiday celebrating so choose wisely. If those gluten-free guests are coming in droves, roasted veggies may be the best bet. Take a modern approach to potatoes and sub-in cauliflower mash for a lighter, but trendier dish. Or choose mac n’ cheese in the crock pot for easy transport and guaranteed praise.
Again it’s up to you, so if your group wants all the sides…then eat all the sides! Remember, calories don’t matter and you’ll get to that in 2018.
Bread and Butter:
Not exactly a necessity, but rolls do a great job of soaking up gravy or serving as a small delivery method to shovel food into mouth. Ok, maybe they are a necessity…
It’s a holiday staple and you can get it in a can. Need I say more?
Again, I recommend at least two different types of dessert. Of course pie is traditional, so if that’s the route you’re going get both a fruit based pie and something else — like pumpkin, pecan, or minced meat. Don’t forget the whipped cream!
If tradition isn’t at the top of your list then your options are wide open…cake, cookies, ice cream, cheese and fruit plate, candy…the possibilities are endless.
If your group isn’t afraid of a kick, get a nice dessert wine or night cap to put a festive finale on the meal.
Beer, wine, spirits, maybe even a signature drink, mixers, non-alcoholic options, and most important of all…water. You can’t drink everything else if you don’t stay hydrated!
This is super important if you’re hosting at your house. Guests who’ve been drinking can certainly be fun. Drunk guests that have crossed the line to belligerent, are just a pain in the ass.
Tune in to my next post to get the feast started on the right foot. We’re talking appetizers, soups, and salads so stay close, we’re only getting started!