Last minute meal planning? Last minute food shopping? Kitchen pantry empty?

“Making a list and checking it twice” is a great tool to help you to be smarter, be it cooking, eating or shopping for groceries. Adding the busy holiday season to the mix can be a challenge and keeping organised can be a chore at the best of times.

With Christmas and New Years on the way, planning can get a lot harder, so here are some tips and guidance to help you stick with it.

Between decorating the tree, keeping your cat away from the ball balls, shopping for last minute presents and attending dinner parties with friends and family, it is safe to say you’re a “tad” busy! So make sure your planning doesn’t go a miss.

The key to successful planning is to keep things easy and at your convenience so here are 10 easy ways to help you!

  • Keeping track of your important dates

December is one of the busiest times of the year. It is essential to allocate separate time slots for grocery shopping, decorating, cleaning and social activities such as parties, drinks, canapés and family get together’s. It is quite certain that you won’t be home some of the evenings so limit the grocery shopping to the evenings you’ll be at home or better still plan meals that you can make ahead and store in the fridge or freezer.

  • Don’t forget a shopping list.

Limit the grocery shopping to only once a week. So writing a well-planned list with all the items for meal times, snacks for you and the children, as well as special projects involving baking and fun time with the children, is crucial. This will keep you on track, you’ll save money with buying only what you need.

  • Don’t plan too far in advance.

In this moment less is more, don’t plan too far in advance because it is easy for last minute plans always happen.

  • Keep a well-stocked kitchen.

If in doubt, keep your pantry well stocked up, in any worse case scenario rely on your store cupboard essentials like pasta, rice and beans will help you to put simple meals together.

  • Preparing dinner side dishes and components.

Before you know it the festivities have begun so set some time aside to work on dinner preparation for the few days ahead. Such as peeling and chopping vegetables, for a dip or roast, cooking a pot of rice or lentils for a stew to store in the fridge. This is a time saver and cooking dinner is much more convenient when preparation is done.

  • Keep healthy snacks (within reach for your children and partner).

December is all about sweet treats, baked cookies, gingerbread men and mince pies. When hunger strikes the smell of mixed spice draws everyone into the kitchen, so why not make it more convenient for everyone to grab a more colourful, healthier snack, such as sliced pineapple, figs, apple slices or carrot sticks.

  • Prepare an easy to share breakfast the night before.

If you’re in need of a lie-in then preparing an easy to share breakfast the day before is especially helpful! Bake a breakfast loaf or bran muffins  and portion it into individual containers and serve.

  • Keeping things “easy peasy lemon squeezy”.

There is no need to make fancy dinners or time for experimentation keep meals simple, quick, and easy such as one pot wonders dinner recipes.

  • Enjoy the season for slow cooking.

Everyone loves a slow cooker, it allows you make time for shopping, wrapping presents and preparing the house, so if you don’t have one already, put it on your wish list and ask Santa.

  • Enjoy leftovers.

Welcome and appreciate leftovers, they are a godsend during busy weeks! Reheating leftovers for dinner is easier and faster, saving time and of course money so why not take advantage and relax.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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