It’s hard to meal plan for December.  Not impossible, but harder than it should be.  With the big Christmas/New Year’s celebrations happening at the end of the month, there’s effectively a full week — at least in our lives — that goes all loosey-goosey in terms of where we’ll be, when, with whom, celebrating what.  So when I look at December and planning, I think about things like pantry staples, easy meals, and fallback positions, rather than fully realized menus.  I don’t plan a dinner for every night of the week between Christmas and New Year’s; rather, I plan a couple of possible meals, relying mainly on stuff I know will be in the freezer and cupboards, with the full knowledge that there’s no way I’ll be cooking every single night.  I also know that it’s a time to relax and let go of the plan a little bit, and to revel in the idea that I’ll have some time off (J. and I don’t work during that week) to take a deep breath.  If I need to go out and pick something up for dinner at a moment’s notice, I can.

Here’s what the month will look like, dinner-wise; I can’t believe that we’re already hurtling headlong towards 2011.  It’s absolutely mind-blowing to be planning what we’ll be eating in the last few days of this year.

Wednesday, 12/1: Farfalle with creamy wild mushroom sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes, broccolini
Thursday, 12/2: Skillet chicken with herbed goat cheese sauce, brown rice, veggies
Friday, 12/3: Fend night
Saturday, 12/4: Turkey meatball soup, bread
Sunday, 12/5: Sunday Chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies
Monday, 12/6: Baked herb-crusted pork chops, couscous, veggies
Tuesday, 12/7: Slow cooker — chicken and dumplings, cranberry sauce
Wednesday, 12/8: Spaghetti with marinara, bread, salad
Thursday, 12/9: Panini, fruit, veggie platter
Friday, 12/10: Fend night
Saturday, 12/11: Performance night — I’ll leave barbecued pork in the slow cooker and some cornbread for the guys.
Sunday, 12/12: Parmesan chicken cutlets, orzo, sauteed veggies
Monday, 12/13: Shrimp and vegetable stir-fry, brown rice
Tuesday, 12/14: Homemade pizzas
Wednesday, 12/15: Pasta poulet, roasted broccoli
Thursday, 12/16: Slow cooker — kielbasa and red cabbage, fruit platter, rye bread
Friday, 12/17: Fend night
Saturday, 12/18: Turkey tacos
Sunday, 12/19: Penne vodka, salad, bread
Monday, 12/20: Breakfast for dinner (will probably do frittata, toast, bacon)
Tuesday, 12/21: Slow cooker — beef stroganoff over egg noodles, vegetable medley with herb butter
Wednesday, 12/22: Rosemary-garlic chicken burgers, sweet potato fries, fruit cobbler
Thursday, 12/23: Fend night
Friday, 12/24: Christmas Eve — Traditional Swedish smorgasbord
Saturday, 12/25: Christmas Day — Mom’s prime rib dinner with Yorkshire pudding
Sunday, 12/26: Fend night again!
Monday, 12/27 – Thursday, 12/30: Possible dinners include parmesan salmon fingers; tortellini with meat sauce; and risotto with grape tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Friday, 12/31: New Year’s Eve.  If we don’t go out, I’ll make a cozy dinner for me and J.  One of our favorites is a Barefoot Contessa recipe for a baked bay scallop gratin, with crusty bread and a green salad with baked goat cheese.  I can’t think of a better dinner to end the year!