I’m looking at the calendar, at my freshly holiday-decked house (translation: “bedazzled by a drunk elf with bad taste”), and at my pre-Christmas to-do list.  I’m not stressed, actually. The to-do list is shrinking admirably, the house — however awkwardly — is decorated, and yes, there are lots of commitments coming up, but they’re all joyful things that belong on the “want to do” list rather than the “have to do” list.  We’re cruising from one holiday to the next with at least a veneer of calm.  I even catnapped in a chair for precisely twelve minutes today.

So as I sit here writing a meal plan for the next few weeks, it occurs to me that in order to keep this sweet December sanity intact, I have to remind myself that it’s not about the food.  December is full of food, yes, but the only food that matters this month is the Real Deal Holiday Stuff.  The rest — the nightly dinners, the daily lunches — is just so much routine that keeps us moving toward the main event.

There’s no need to be uber-creative this month.  There’s no need to make elaborate meals where nothing elaborate is required.  It’s more important to just do the dinner thing and get on with the real stuff, the family time and togetherness and holiday preparations and soaking up Christmastime with a four-year-old and a first-grader.  So I’m just throwing this all down on paper (well, virtual paper) and then going through the motions for most of it, honestly, because who wants to make a big fuss about dinner when there are paper snowflakes to be hung and holiday movies to watch?  Not I.

December 2013 Meal plan graphic

Sunday, 12/1: Spaghetti
Make it GF: Use brown rice or quinoa spaghetti (We like Jovial and Tinkyada brands)
Monday, 12/2: Tacos, using some of the grass-fed ground beef from the freezer12.13 Quick Tip 1
Tuesday, 12/3: Slow cooker — California chuck roast, salad
Wednesday, 12/4: Weekend warmup — Honey-mustard chicken sandwiches and sweet potato fries
Make it GF: Make lettuce wraps instead of sandwiches
Thursday, 12/5: Picture pizzas!  We didn’t get to do them when we’d originally planned, so tonight’s the night for the annual pizza/art mashup of awesomeness.
Make it GF: Picture salads would be fun, too!
Friday, 12/6: Dress rehearsal for me; fend night for the guys!
Saturday, 12/7: Rehearsal and performance all day for me.  Lamb stew in the slow cooker for the guys.

Sunday, 12/8: Sunday roast chicken and vegetables
Monday, 12/9: Pumpkin carbonara and salad
Make it GF: Use brown rice or quinoa pasta
Tuesday, 12/10: Chicken pot pie
Make it GF: Chicken stew would be just as delicious, or you could make a mashed potato crust like on a shepherd’s pie
12.13 Quick Tip 2Wednesday, 12/11: Breakfast for dinner
Thursday, 12/12: Simplest stuffed peppers
Friday, 12/13: Fend night
Saturday, 12/14: Skillet chicken and broccoli dijon, crispy roasted potatoes

Sunday, 12/15: “Early Christmas” dinner with J.’s family.  I’m making porchetta, roasted brussels sprouts, vodka carrots, and risotto Milanese.
Monday, 12/16 THROUGH Sunday, 12/23: Pantry/Freezer Challenge week!

12.13 Quick Tip 3

Monday, 12/23 THROUGH Wednesday, 12/25: Holiday celebrations with family
Thursday, 12/26: Mom’s old-school goulash, salad
Make it GF: Use brown rice or quinoa pasta
Friday, 12/27: Dinner out for a family event
Saturday, 12/28: Butternut squash soup and sandwiches
Make it GF: Make quesadillas on corn tortillas instead of sandwiches, or just offer meat and cheese rollups
Sunday, 12/29: Pasta poulet12.13 Quick Tip 4
Make it GF: Use brown rice or quinoa pasta
Monday, 12/30: Burgers
Make it GF: Serve the burgers off the buns on a salad or rice bowl
Tuesday, 12/31: New Year’s Eve!  We usually stay in and make something fun or fancy (or both).

Happy Holidays!