We are now entering the holiday season, the busiest time of the year.  Raise your hand if you’re on the “dread” side or the “excited” side?  I’m, at the moment, ambivalent.  I know how much work hosting an event, and preparing holiday dinners, can be and I’m thankful to only have to to host two times a year.  Time commitments that include social engagements can do two things; wreck your diet and wreck your ability to have time to plan healthy meals and exercise.  By making yourself a priority in your life, you can maintain a eating and exercise plan throughout the holidays.

By having time saving methods for getting holiday dinners on the table in 30 minutes or less you drastically improve both your mood and your health.  This is not the time of year to gain 5 pounds.  My five best pieces of cooking equipment include a sharp knife, a crockpot, a large ceramic baking dish, a heaping quantity of spices and tin foil.  With these five things on hand all the time, I can have dinner on the table in no time.

The most important item in my kitchen is a knife.  I use the same knife to cut veggies and bacon into bits as well as any other thing needing cutting.  A good one (like this Shun) is not cheap, but, I could not live without it.

Next up is a Crockpot which can mean the difference of having dinner on the table with little to no cooking, preparing or mixing.  1 Large Ceramic Baking Dish is also a must have.  Between the crockpot and the ceramic dish, I can make multiple meals in one dish.  Roasted root veggies plus a bone-in chicken is fast, easy and hard to mess up.  Finally, a few accessories that I can’t live without are tin foil and Penzey’s spices.  By wrapping a fish fillet up with some veggies and butter into a tin foil wrap and baking for 30 minutes, you can have an easy to clean up, healthy dinner.

The following are a list of meals you can cook at a moment’s notice with links to the recipes.

Finally, I’d like to add that if you take the time to plan meals in advance, with your kids, you will be more likely to get food on the table.  Also, by keeping your social engagements to a minimum during the week, you can maintain a stable environment.  I am truly thankful to have dinner with my family most nights of the week at home with food cooked by me.  See Prioritizing Family Habits to read more on how I attempt to remain sane during the busy months ahead.