It can be really difficult to watch your weight over the holidays, or at any time when family or friends are gathered in a large group.
Fortunately, when you’re in charge of the cooking, you have a lot of control over how healthy the meal will be, and you can make sure that everything goes according to plan, and that there is enough healthy food for everyone, as well as all the treats and snacks that people expect.
Tips for making healthy holiday dinners go off without a hitch:
- Start planning early
- Check what you have first
- Do holiday shopping all in one go
- If you can, divide your shopping list
- Do your prep work early
- Go for low-fat ingredients
- Plan the portions in advance
Figure out how many people you will be feeding, and then get consensus on what you’re going to be cooking. There’s no point in doing a turkey dinner for Christmas if everyone actually wants roast beef in their heart of hearts. Work out portion sizes for everything, including dessert and side dishes.
Tell Aunty Sue to make the dessert, and tell your cousin to bring along a big potato salad. You might prefer to have everything under your control, but outsourcing a few dishes to family members can really help to reduce the load – and the cost – of a big family holiday dinner.
Go into your pantry and make a list of all the things you can use from last year, or that are just lying around. Cross these items off your final grocery list.
Keep it separate from your weekly groceries, and do it in a special trip. This will help you to keep organised, and prevent you from overspending. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it!
Divide it into things that are perishable and things that you can keep for a while. Go get the things that will keep as far in advance as possible. You could even spread the cost over two pay checks if you do this! Keep a list of the fresh produce you’ll need to buy the day before the big event.
Chop vegetables and freeze them in Zip-Lock bags, make your cookie dough in advance and freeze it, and even make a big soup and freeze it if you have room in your freezer.
Low fat butter and milk can make a major difference to the calorie content of cakes and puddings, and low-fat cream has only a fraction of the fat that full fat cream has. These small changes will make little difference to taste, but will make all the difference to your waistline.
When you cook things, separate them into portions, so that you and your guests all have the right amount, and don’t overeat simply because there is a massive bowl of potatoes on the table. This will help you, and everyone else, maintain their weight these holidays. Then you don’t have to worry about knocking yourself out trying to lose weight down the road.
Remember, though, through all this healthy holiday cooking, that the holidays are meant to be a time for having fun with your family, and overdoing it just a little bit. Keep the above tips in mind, but make sure you don’t turn preparing Christmas dinner into a military operation!