Holidays are usually everything big – big presents, big families, big dinners and big desserts. But this year may look a little different for some families. Instead of holiday parties every weekend and seeing extended family in large gatherings full of endless options of side dishes. Holiday plans may be limit to immediate family members with a smaller and lighter meal. So how can we still make the holidays feel like holidays? How can we add a little holiday cheer into a meal that’s for a smaller group of people? There are a few tips for scaling your holiday dinner plans.
Choose smaller cuts of meat: Instead of cooking a whole roast, ham, or turkey, try choosing a smaller cut of meat like pork tenderloin, turkey breast or a whole chicken. Cooking a whole chicken, or picking up a rotisserie chicken, can still give you the look and feel of a holiday meal, with similar flavor, but less time spent cooking and a scaled down version of a large turkey. A good rule of thumb is 3-4oz of meat per person at your gathering.
- Get creative with leftovers: Some recipes may be possible to scale down so plan for having leftovers. You can do so many things with leftovers such as a crockpot stew with leftover turkey or a ham and cheese sandwich with some tart cranberry sauce. The leftover meals are endless, and they can help to keep the Christmas cheer alive even after the holidays are over. You can always freeze any leftover desserts, sides or entrees.
- Decrease ingredients: Look through the recipes of your favorite sides and simplify by decreasing some of the ingredients. Instead of green bean casserole, steam green beans with a few parmesan slices over the top. Instead of sweet potato casserole, choose plain potatoes with a toppings bar. Put out marshmallow, peanut butter, nuts and seeds to make a decadent sweet potato without having to prepare a whole separate dish. Just put the sweet potatoes in the oven at 400°F for 60 minutes and collect various toppings for your guests to build their own potato.
- Stick to your favorite sides: Usually the holidays include a table full of side dishes—from green beans, to cranberry sauce, to stuffing and mashed potatoes. Instead choose two of your favorite sides and add an easily prepped fruit and tossed salad.
- Opt for individual servings: You can skip the big dish and make individual portions instead. This could be serving everyone their own toasted potato, chicken breast, or using a cookie sheet to make stuffing cups.
- Dessert: It doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether it is picking up a pumpkin pie or making a smaller dessert. It could be as simple as chocolate covered pretzels or pre-made cookies. You could even opt for individual desserts like mini pies, tarts or individual whoopie pies.