@bittenword @WholeFoods @DreamDinners @bostonmarket Holiday Meal Options with Less Stress (pt.1)

November 10, 2011

Hungry for options this year for holiday meals? The holidays can typically be a time where the focus is on feasting and family, with a tendency to overindulge and/or stress out (at least in my family of origin). It is an American holiday after all, and we do not take overindulging or stress lightly.

With a non-traditional family, recreating the Norman Rockwell traditional holiday meal just might not happen. What are my options for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Instead of dreading the obligation to prepare a whole turkey and groaning sideboard of assorted dishes, there are many options that allow you to enjoy a holiday meal and be realistic. There are budget-friendly solutions for all tastes. Not pizza delivery or heading for Disneyland, but meals that feature the North American fall season harvest offerings that can be realized without overindulging or stressing out. It is a time of thanks, and gratitude for a new wave of enlightened food choices is high on my list.

Grocers/Markets for Meal Planning

Whole Foods Market has expanded its marketing from healthy food choices to healthier food planning. On the website guides and tips await you. Recipes are also there along with links for entertaining. Share your story online by posting a photo to their webpage. Consider gifting healthier food; is it too obvious to suggest buying gift cards these holidays considering the source?

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/holidays/guides/mealplanning.php

Check out the blog with helpful ideas, recipes, and social media links, although it doesn’t appear to be interactive with consumer feedback. Like other supermarket chains, Whole Foods most likely offers a boxed holiday meal ready to cook/reheat and serve. These can be very convenient, less expensive but do require a bit of attention to make the flavors more satisfying (think herbs, spices).

Online Resources

If shopping and cooking does not give you cause for trepidation these holidays, start online and explore some great online resources. You can maximize satisfaction by preparing several well-chosen complimentary dishes instead of the carbo-overload menu you might remember from grandma’s house of your childhood.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/ oh my!

The promise of a 60-minute Thanksgiving that would “satisfy my inner grandmother” really piqued my interest: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/thanksgiving/60minutemeal

Yes, Plymouth, Massachusetts has a website with social media links. If you are on the East Coast, the food festival looks very promising on November 19! http://usathanksgiving.com/

Celebrate without meat and savour the flavor of vegetarian options: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/11/01/health/20111101_vegetarian_thanksgiving.html

The Bitten Word – Resolving to Put Our Food Magazines to Use. Their (Zach and Clay) annual posts on Thanksgiving are an annual tradition and have a devoted fan base. http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2011/10/thanksgiving-2011-recipe-index-what-the-food-magazines-are-recommending.html

Catering Services

Banish the thought of an unwieldy wedding reception with waitstaff serving individual tables, catering is available on a far more manageable size to bring home and serve.

http://www.dinewise.com/holiday-a-la-carte.html offers holiday meals a la carte. “Life Just Got Easier” according to http://dreamdinners.com/main.php?static=index where you indulge in “garanimal” meals, packaging up ingredients within a pre-set recipe to make your meal. (One friend swears by this system!). These are fresh, time saving options and offer a dine-in option that is higher-end.

Food Retail (do not make me say restaurant)

http://www.honeybaked.com/ has an excellent website with mouthwatering descriptions of hams, turkey, beef, ribs, side dishes and desserts, store locations, recipes, as well as social media links and coupons. Emarketing opt-in can have some cost-savings benefits when you are sent coupons to use for your purchase. One of my print vendors used to give Honeybaked gift cards each year as a thank you for orders. http://www.facebook.com/HoneyBaked

http://www.bostonmarket.com/home boasts of “good tasting food you can feel good about.” Look for food section, store locations, and a link to order holiday meals.

I look forward to exploring some of the restaurant special holiday menus in my next blog article. Bon Appetit!

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