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Nutrition Newsletter
Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services Newsletter

Healthy Holidays - It’s All in the Time Management

By:  Sue Freck, RD, CSP, CNSC

“Twas the Night Before Christmas……” but wait, that only leaves a little more than three weeks to go as we start one of the busiest months of the year! As the Holiday season ramps up, the demands for our time increase and it is very easy to become overwhelmed. Whether it is logging in extensive hours shopping at the mall, attending your 5th Holiday Party of the month, watching another “Nutcracker” performance, or volunteering to help out those in need, time management during the next few weeks is critical to keep you and your family from resorting to eating fast food every other night. The following are a few suggestions that can keep meals healthy and everyone happy enough to enjoy the swirl of festivities. A well stocked kitchen and planning ahead can prevent a time crunch in the future, when your inner most “Grinch” can pop out un-expectantly.

  • Assemble your family members (or roommates) and plan the week’s calendar including meals at and away from home. Delegate a few nights of dinners to friends, spouses or children depending on age. Assign a clean-up person so the chef can catch a break.
  • Review you top 10 favorite recipes and make a list of ingredients you will need
  • Take an inventory of the kitchen and pantry and stock up on basic items-   Pasta, rice, bread crumbs, soup mixes or broth, spices, herbs, flavoring extracts, baking ingredients, oils & vinegar, condiments,  salad dressings, eggs, milk, sour cream, margarine, canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, canned beans,  snack crackers, dry cereals, etc. Check for expired items and toss. 
  • Give your kitchen workspace a onceover looking for ways to make it more efficient- keep utensils and gadgets you frequently use at your fingertips. Keep extra towels handy, organize your holiday baking items in a basket.
  • Organize your refrigerator by clustering your ingredients according to your meals – have a designated spot for leftovers so they won’t be forgotten and go to waste.
  • Plant  a window herb garden- basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, cilantro, oregano, sage are all good choices and easy to toss into recipes
  • Buy extra storage containers or plastic bags for buying in bulk and then separating for menus – or even better, recycle the plastic containers from prepared items for leftovers
  • Prepare twice the amount of  one of your favorite recipes when you have time and freeze the extra for an easy meal
  • Save the “new” recipe for a less hectic time when you are not dependent on the result in case it is not like your mother used to make.
  • Buy semi-prepared ingredients or sauces - bag salads, diced or chopped veggies, micro-wave ready vegetables, cooked rotisserie chicken, pesto, guacamole, or hummus
  • Zest lemons or limes and add the zest to a bit of coarse salt, freeze and save for your next marinade OR juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube tray for easy access.
  • Try to visit the grocery stores at off hours- you will find it easier to shop for bargains and adhere to your shopping list when you are less distracted by a busy store.
  • Plan for a “leftover night” buffet and add a fruit salad to entice the naysayers
  • Place cut up fruit or vegetables and dip, cheese and crackers, hummus and pita bread, or a bowl of nuts on the table to curb the hunger monster while you begin the dinner prep
  • Eat before you shop to avoid impulse buying for items that weren’t on your budget or fitting into your weekly menus.

All in all, the Holiday Season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. A few organizing tips related to meal planning and purchasing can do wonders and save on those precious minutes. Even starting small with a few of the above suggestions and creating a routine can launch a new habit as a the new year unfolds. Good luck &  Happy Holidays!!

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