Find out how to create a stress-free menu plan for the busy holiday season for a gluten and dairy-free diet in three simple steps.
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With Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror, I know the next few weeks are about to be crazy busy. And if you’re like me, you know you’re going to have to eat but the idea of making decisions about dinner sounds capital S – Stressful!
Between holiday activities out of the house, school performances, Christmas traditions with family and all of that ON TOP of all the normal stuff we do every single day with work and kids and self-care… it’s a LOT.
By the way, I’d love to help you make the holiday season a little easier with recipes to get you through Christmas. Whether you’re craving some holiday treats, or need inspiration for your Christmas breakfast and dinner, don’t forget you can leverage my best resource this holiday season – Gluten & Dairy-free Festive Flavors Bundle! You can grab your copy here.
Now when it comes to food during this busy season, I shared this idea in my email newsletter last year – and I’ll tell you what – it’s still so good and so useful that I’m sharing it again.
If you are finding that you can’t seem to get too much time in the kitchen in the next few weeks, I want to share a quick strategy with you today.
Now, I use the recipes in my GFDF Weekly program to feed my family most days of the week, because the recipes are all gluten and dairy-free AND there’s a shopping list and set of recipes to work from each and every week. It’s the ultimate “easy button” for me.
BUT if you aren’t a subscriber, or if this busy period is just wayyy too much for you to even make those meals, I want to share a quick ‘get easy meals to the table’ strategy with you.
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose a handful of quick and easy recipes that work well for you and your family right now.
- Come up with two to three variations on that recipe.
- Make a plan – or don’t!
Here are the details of how I make this work when life just speeds up and I can’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I’m used to.
Step 1. Choose recipes you can make quickly, that are easy to make, and your family enjoys.
Pick anywhere from 4 to 6 meal ideas that your family will eat with minimal complaints.
For my family, this might look like tacos, spaghetti, stuffed potatoes, chili, and stir-fry. Your list will probably be different.
Step 2. Come up with two to three variations of each recipe or meal idea.
Think about each of your chosen meal ideas and try to find a way that you can add/change/take away different ingredients in order to create a completely different meal.
Here are some examples based on a few of my meal ideas:
How to change it up: change out the protein, starch (corn tortillas vs chips vs rice), and toppings
- Beef tacos with corn tortillas, salsa, dairy-free cheese, and olives
- Chicken tacos with salsa verde, dairy-free mozzarella cheese, and lettuce or spinach
- Beef nachos with black beans, dairy-free cheese, lettuce, avocados, and salsa
Read on: Super easy crockpot chicken tacos
How to change it up: change out the protein, type of noodle, add veggies
- Beef meat sauce with jarred pasta sauce and gluten-free spaghetti noodles
- Ground turkey meat sauce with jarred pasta sauce and gluten-free lentil rotini noodles, and add chopped red peppers
- Ground chicken meat sauce with jarred pasta sauce and added shredded carrots and zucchini, served with gluten-free penne noodles
Read on: Gluten-free spaghetti brands
How to change it up: change type of potato, protein, and toppings
- Russet potatoes with ground beef and homemade sloppy joe sauce
- Russet potatoes with shredded chicken, corn, salsa, and dairy-free cheese
- Sweet potatoes with shredded chicken, black beans, and barbecue sauce
Step 3. Use these few recipes you’ve come up with to make a menu plan – or don’t!
If you are looking for ways to streamline your cooking during the busy months, you might choose to have a taco night, pasta night, or stuffed potato night once a week.
Create a loose menu plan with one of each of these variations – the nine ideas above could be a great starting point!
With three variations on five different recipes, you’ll have 15(!!) meal ideas to get you through the crazy season. That’s weeknights for three full weeks!
OR double the plan and you can have 30 full days of dinners planned – the ENTIRE month of December!
With this strategy of taking something you love and getting creative with new variations on your favorite dishes, you can create a number of different recipes for your family that will hit all the criteria you need to get meals to the table quickly, easily, and without fussing over what to fix.
When you stick with what you know and love and tweak it slightly, you can feed your family without having to think too much during this busy time of year.
I hope this strategy helps you as you make your way through the busy holiday season.