Here I sit at my computer on the first evening of the month of December, and I’ve neglected to post a meal plan yet!  The time, it has been getting away from me lately.  I’m not even sure my proverbial candle still HAS two ends to burn anymore.

Thankfully, my plan to remain focused on The Awesome remains intact, and even just the act of having written down my thoughts on remaining as tranquil and joyful as possible during this season of the year — despite everyday annoyances such as, oh, say…whacking one’s temple so hard on the car door that one shows up at work with a 2-inch goose egg in progress? — has helped me to feel more in control of my stress level.  Happily, I’ve been able to translate that calmness into the creation of a December meal plan that I think represents the best of all worlds: it’s got a good balance of meat-based and plant-based dishes, it’s relatively unfussy (so as to leave me time to take care of the seasonal festivities), and it’s the kind of food that I think the family and I will really want to eat as the winter chill earnestly sets in over Rhode Island.

I’ve tried to give more than a couple of passing nods to the boys in this particular menu; lately, J. and I have been recognizing just how lucky we are, really, to have two small children who do very little complaining about the food they’re served each night.  They may not always EAT it, or at least not enthusiastically, but there’s a very minimal amount of true whining that happens at our table — even if they’ve been faced with night after night of lentils and greens and some of their least favorite food items.  Part of my drive towards finding The Awesome this December has to include repaying my boys, in a sense, for their general dinnertime goodwill, and serving up a few more dishes that are purely about THEM and their tastes.  Hence, the appearance of items like homemade panko-crusted chicken nuggets, something I ordinarily make only for their lunches, and only on very rare occasions.  I was rewarded for that effort, too; when L. realized that Mommy was really making CHICKEN NUGGETS for dinner, he couldn’t stop beaming.  Sometimes, family dinner needs to just be about watching everybody light up at the sight of their plates.

But enough chatter.  It’s time for the plan, which is truncated because J. and the boys and I will be spending time with family and friends for the holidays.  I’ve not planned anything for the week after Christmas because I don’t know what our plans will eventually be; but as always, with a holiday in the mix, I’m sure things will shake out quite nicely when the time comes.

Thursday, 12/1: Panko-crusted simple chicken nuggets, roasted broccoli and butternut squash, fruit
Friday, 12/2: Fend
Saturday, 12/3: Turkey “ribollita” soup, cheese and fruit platter
Sunday, 12/4: Slow cooker — Meatball sandwiches, vegetable plate (Note: we were supposed to be gone all day for a church event, which is why I replaced my usual Sunday dinner with a slow cooker meal.  The event has been cancelled, but as part of committing to The Awesome, I decided I still deserved a break.)
Monday, 12/5: Quesadilla bar, skillet corn, fruit, and guacamole
Tuesday, 12/6: Slow cooker — split pea soup with ham, rye bread, salad
Wednesday, 12/7: DIY salad platter and homemade pitas
Thursday, 12/8: Fend — I’ve got a rehearsal and J. and the boys are going to a holiday party
Friday, 12/9: Whole-wheat pasta with white beans, broccoli, and red peppers
Saturday, 12/10: I’ve got dress rehearsal and a performance today, so we’re going to eat lunch as a family rather than dinner.  We’ll all make more of L.’s “picture pizzas” together for lunch; then I’ll leave a chicken with roasting instructions for the guys’ dinner.
Sunday, 12/11: Skillet chicken with goat cheese and marinara, sweet potato gnocchi, sauteed greens
Monday, 12/12: Butternut squash tart and salad
Tuesday, 12/13: Slow cooker — Sausage, cabbage, and apples with pumpernickel bread
Wednesday, 12/14: Fend (I’ve got an evening commitment)
Thursday, 12/15: Whole wheat pasta with hot smoked salmon and vegetables
Friday, 12/16: J. and I have a party to attend; we’ll leave a meal for the boys and their sitter
Saturday, 12/17: Baked potato soup, salad
Sunday, 12/18: Jamie Oliver’s Steak and Guinness pie, greens
Monday, 12/19: Kids’ choice meal — I’m going to surprise them and cook anything they want tonight.
Tuesday, 12/20: Slow cooker — Apple-barbecue pork tacos and slaw
Wednesday, 12/21: Pumpkin risotto, sauteed greens, fruit
Thursday, 12/22: Tomato soup and vegetable-cheese flatbreads
Friday, 12/23: Dinner with family
Saturday, 12/24: Christmas Eve!  Swedish smorgasbord at my folks’.
Sunday, 12/25: Merry Christmas!  I’m looking forward to my mom’s prime rib dinner with Yorkshire pudding and brussels sprouts.  What holiday food tradition are you most excited for this year?