Meal planning for holiday break
Meal planning during a holiday week is a whole other ballgame. There’s the big meals for the actual holidays, and then there’s EVERY OTHER MEAL. Even though our family is home more with remote work and remote or hybrid learning, we still don't eat breakfast and lunch together during the week because our schedules don't line up. But, during a holiday break, we're all here without other commitments, so it's much different. Planning all the meals every day can be a little overwhelming!
But, meal planning for holiday breaks can also be AWESOME when you think of it a little differently. I love to use the time to get ahead stocking my freezer with healthy food we'll enjoy well into the new year.
My favorite way to stock the freezer is with "components" vs. completely prepared meals (about 80% of our freezer is "components"). I find that using my freezer this way helps us avoid dinner boredom, while still speeding up regular weeknight prep.
I also love to use what I call "cook once, eat twice" to stock the freezer. What I mean by that is instead of making something solely for the purpose of putting it in the freezer, I just double-up (or quadruple up!) on something I'm already making for us to eat. It's just a lot more efficient than making a regular meal PLUS making stuff for the freezer.
Some of my favorite "components" to freeze:
Turkey meatballs: We eat them the day I make them, then I freeze the rest to reheat for meals later. We love to reheat them in BBQ sauce, marinara, or teriyaki. (get the recipe here)
Italian meatballs: We probably eat spaghetti and meatballs more than any other meal here, so I've always got Italian meatballs in my freezer. We also love these in meatball subs. Yummmm (get the recipe here)
Chicken/Turkey/Ham/Pork/Seafood stock: I basically take anything and make it into stock. I use it for a bunch of different soups or to make risotto, or I just sip it for a light lunch during the week.
Marinara: This is my husband's specialty. We always have his amazing marinara in the freezer for spaghetti, lasagna, sandwiches... it's the best!
Shredded beef: I use this for a great head start on enchiladas, Korean tacos, nachos, sandwiches and more. (get the recipe here - includes instructions for your slow cooker or Instant Pot and recipes for meal ideas!)
Shredded chicken (the most versatile component ingredient on the planet!): I put shredded chicken in so SO many dishes from pastas to sandwiches, tacos, casseroles, soups. (get the recipe here - includes instructions for your slow cooker or Instant Pot and recipes for meal ideas!)
Pancakes and waffles: My kiddos and husband love breakfast any time of day, so this is great to have on hand.
Muffins and banana bread: Makes breakfast and snacks SO easy!
For a full round-up of breakfasts to make ahead and freeze, check out my Make-ahead Breakfast blog post here.
So this holiday break when I'm planning meals, I'll be making this including all the components listed above in a big batch. I'll use part of it for the current meal and freeze the rest. We will go into the new year with a freezer stocked with healthy shortcuts and I'll be a lot less stressed once school and work start up again!