Nov 2

Simpler Holiday Mealtimes {A Simpler Season Giveaway}

Tortellini Soup

The following guest post is from Jessica of Life as Mom:

Can you just picture it? It’s raining. You’ve finally picked the kids up from the last hockey practice of the week. You’d like to just go home and cuddle up in front of the fire, but no, there’s dinner to rush through before you haul everyone to the dress rehearsal of the Christmas pageant. Oh, and you need to pack cookies for the reception that follows.

The holiday season is rife with great opportunities for fun and festivities. But, daily life must also carry on. How do you reconcile the two and still keep your head on straight?

Here are some strategies I use to make dinner times in November and December more fun for all of us:

Make everyone’s favorites.

The nights when I make a family favorite meal are the most peaceful. Everyone’s too busy eating. I love the golden silence, without the complaining. Serving a meal that makes folks happy is more peaceful.

Prepare simple fare.

Sometimes the most popular meals are those that don’t take lots of prep. Meals like spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and potatoes, and quesadillas don’t require any complicated cooking, but everyone loves them.

Try freezer cooking.

I just came off the heels of a massive bulk cooking session where I cooked up a bunch of meals for the freezer. It was a lot of work, but I know it will be well worth it. I’ve got easy to reheat meals to cover me for the next six weeks or longer.

Serve a DIY supper.

There’s nothing wrong with serve-yourself. While you might have folks too young to cook on the stove, pretty much everyone can serve himself from a sandwich and salad bar that you set out with lots of fixings.

Sometimes we make mealtimes into a bigger production than they need to be. Don’t get me wrong! I, for one, love to eat. But, sometimes simplifying suppers is a great way to make the rest of life seem more doable.

Looking for more ways to celebrate A Simpler Season?

A Simpler Season is a ginormous compendium of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s planning ideas and printable pages. With the busy family in mind, it provides recipes, to-do lists, children’s activity sheets, planning pages, gift ideas, and step-by-step tutorials for creating homemade gifts. There’s even an extensive children’s book list with accompanying activities to do with your kids this holiday season.

You can buy A Simpler Season in pdf or on Kindle.

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Jessica has generously offered to give three Unsophisticook readers a complimentary copy of A Simpler Season!

If you are reading this in your email or feed reader, please CLICK HERE to visit the original blog post to enter. Email entries will not be counted.

Method of entry:

1. Leave a comment. How do you plan to simplify meals during the holiday season?

Enter through 5:00pm EST on Tuesday, 11/6/12!

Use code SIMPLER3 to take $3 off any purchase of $8 or more in the Life as Mom eStore. You'll definitely want to check out her new Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook!

Jessica Fisher is a busy mom to six children, making her home in San Diego. She writes about life, laughter and the pursuit of a clean house at Life as Mom and shares delicious ways to act your wage at Good Cheap Eats. She is the author of several books, including A Simpler Season and Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook.

by Tara | 32 comments

{ 32 comments }

MB November 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

My crockpot is a great resource

Rebekah C November 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

If my 4 year old can’t help me bake it, then I am not making it. That keeps me from picking a recipe that is so time consuming that it ends up being more frustrating than pleasurable.

Noel November 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Simple and easy meals are a staple when the kids are in session. I try to freeze as many meals as I can so I always have something quick, easy and healthy on hand–heat and eat!

Sus November 3, 2012 at 9:49 am

I am going to do much of my baking ahead of time.

Andrea November 3, 2012 at 10:23 am

Having my guests each bring a dish!

Liz November 3, 2012 at 10:34 am

I’ll plan meals by the week based on what’s on sale and what I already have in the freezer.

Billy November 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

I ask my friends to bring a dessert or appetizer to lighten my load and switch up the menu!

Angela N. November 3, 2012 at 11:25 am

We do potluck meals as well as menu plan!

Shonda November 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I love the holidays because of the food. I try to simplify by buying some of the recipes already made and add my flair to them. Or I cook and freeze to get the foods ready before the holidays. I try to scale down our meals but it is so hard when people like different things and want what they had when they grew up. Most of my simplifing is trying to use the leftovers for recipes after the holidays, so the food won’t go to waste. It is so hard, I am a southern cook and we overdo everything. I would love to learn to MORE simplify my life.

Tracy November 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I plan ahead and try to do things ahead of time. I have started accepting offers to bring a dish (you get to try new things and it takes some stress off). I do everything I can to push down the last minute panic of making 6 more dishes – we always have more than enough to start with.

Kim @ Homesteader's Heart November 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I always try to plan ahead so that I’m not rushing around at the last second. This helps a ton to simplify things.
Thank you so much for the chance to enter.
Have a lovely night!
Kim
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Liz November 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Life just seems to keep getting busier, so I am always looking for ways to simplify. As a pastor’s wife and mom of two small ones, it helps to be on your A-game, especially during this season. I’d like to check her book out-

Thanks,
Liz

Jaan L November 4, 2012 at 12:03 am

To save time, I make one pot dishes. And if they are to be eaten with rice, I cook extra and freeze for later use. But if I am really crushed for time, I ask my almost 12yr old son to give me a hand. He is a great help and turning out to be a great cook, too. Fun cooking with him.

grace November 4, 2012 at 1:02 am

As newlyweds that are hosting their first Christmas, we plan to keep things simple by planning ahead, using a slow cooker more, and to plan pot lucks with friends. The ebook sounds really useful; thanks for the great giveaway!

Tiffani November 4, 2012 at 7:35 am

With the crockpot! There have been lots of links on Pinterest for meals that are prepared ahead and frozen, then dumped in the crockpot to cook on the day it is needed.

Kel November 4, 2012 at 7:45 am

Yes – as the reader above states – the crockpot can really be a help – even to keep food warm.

Adelle F. November 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

I plan to prepare as much as possible ahead of time, leaving less for that last minute crunch time!

Miranda November 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

I don’t plan to be fancy. & to not get stressed.
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Kim in AZ November 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

I hope to make meals easier this holiday season by doing some freezer cooking. I’m hoping to track down Jessica’s book at one of our libraries in the county system so I can follow her ‘busy holiday nights’ freezer cooking plan that she posted last week. I’ve also been doing a lot of at home canning of meats since there are cooler temperatures outside to combat heating up the house with the pressure canner. :)

theresesophia November 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I plan on doing lots of “semi-homemade.” It’s a little more expensive at the grocery store but it saves my precious time and sanity :)

katie November 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I plan to use my crockpot as much as possible and plan ahead as much as possible.

Jodi November 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I will be planning meals earlier, maybe even freezing some, so I am not out at the last minute getting ingredients!

Lynne B November 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

We are expecting #7 sometime around Thanksgiving so _every meal_ will be doubled or somehow expanded between now and then to give us a good start at a simpler Advent enjoying a newborn.

Dawn Keen November 5, 2012 at 11:53 am

I am going to do more crockpot meals that I start in the morning before I leave for work. I am also hosting a cookie exchange. I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce and froze them in containers. When we need a quick meal, I pull a container out, boil some noodles and the meal is ready super quick!

What other meals freeze well?

Tonya November 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Once the cooler weather kicks in, I spend Sundays when my boys are watching football, making meals for the week. Some of them are very simple, some more complex. All of them can be frozen or refrigerated. By the time football season is over, I have made enough food that I don’t spend all spring in the kitchen either!

Abby Hopfauf November 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Freezer cooking and the crockpot!

Carmen November 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Most years I don’t have a choice – we go to my mother-in-law’s house where I help her set up an elaborate feast. We’ve tried to get her to cut back, to share the load (have others bring dishes), but without success.

Christy Vorwald November 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Making larger portions and packaging them into serving sizes helps with lunches and healthy snacks for quick little meals to keep the troops happy in a pinch.

Melinda T November 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Crockpot and making extras to freeze!

Becky November 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I plan on using my crockpot and freezing some meals ahead.
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Ingrid B November 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

I’m a big believer in strategic meal planning where at least half the meal can be assembled a day or two ahead. The freezer is a lifesaver to for making the holidays less stressful but no less special.

Chrissy November 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

I’m hoping to get some holiday things done ahead because of need for surgery first week of December. I already make most meals with planned leftovers.

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