Food For The Holidays

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The holidays are a time for family, friends, and food. It’s also a time for stress and anxiety. As the host of your family’s holiday feast, you’re probably feeling some pressure to make sure that everyone has enough to eat, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd. And while it’s important to make sure that everyone is able to enjoy themselves (and their food), it’s also important not to stress too much about what goes into every dish.

That’s where we come in! We’re here with some tips on how to feed your whole family without worrying about whether or not they’ll be able to eat enough—and without breaking the bank doing it.

Food For The Holidays

These sheet pan scalloped potatoes are the perfect creamy potato side dish! Made from scratch, and indulgent but simple to make, this is a real show stopper! Perfect to feed a crowd at any occasion.

Sheet pan scalloped potatoes with a wooden spoon in them

When it comes to side dishes, it really doesn’t get much better than creamy scalloped potatoes! Super versatile and a delight to eat, it’s so easy to make a huge batch for entraining!

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How to make Sheet Pan Scalloped Potatoes 

  • Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and heat oven to 450°F.
  • Heat a large skillet, over medium-low heat, and add the oil and butter. When the oil is hot and butter has melted, add the diced onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • While the onions cook, scrub, dry and cut the potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. Pat the slices dry with paper towels and lay them (shingle-stylin the prepared baking sheet. The rows of potatoes should barely touch and the potatoes should fill the pan.
  • Season the potatoes with black pepper, and sprinkle them with half of the Gruyere and half of the Parmesan.
  • When the onions are ready, raise the heat to medium and add the cream, Dijon and herbs, stirring continuously. Heat just to a simmer and carefully pour the cream/onion mixture over the potatoes. Tilt the sheet pan slightly in all directions to spread the cream/onion mixture to the edges and corners of the pan. Season with additional freshly ground black pepper.
  • Top with the remaining cheeses; Gruyere first and Parmesan on the very top.
  • Cover the potatoes with foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Be sure to place the foil sprayed-side down.
  • Bake 15 minutes at 450°F and remove the foil.
  • Reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue baking 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through, the edges are crispy, the middle is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
  • Transfer the potatoes from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Brown Sugar Pineapple Ham is the perfect Christmas or Easter Ham recipe! We made a delicious brown sugar and pineapple glaze for ham, and your holiday table will never be the same. This spiral ham recipe is easy to make, and filled with SO much flavor!

spiral cut ham covered in brown sugar glaze
  •  Pin this recipe for later!

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Spiral Ham Recipe

We always love to have Pineapple Ham on our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter tables. The Pineapple Ham Glaze on this spiral ham is our very favorite classic way to prepare easy ham for the holidays.

Nothing says the holidays like a good Ham recipe. This Brown Sugar Pineapple Ham is just perfect for the holiday because it’s super tasty and super easy!

This is the best spiral ham recipe out there. Simple, delicious, and something everyone will love. The glaze is a mix of cola, brown sugar, and pineapple, so it’s got plenty of flavor.

It will look so beautiful at the center of the table, surrounded by whatever side dishes you decide to serve.

brown sugar pineapple ham on a serving platter

Best Spiral Ham Recipe with Pineapple Ham Glaze

This spiral ham makes holidays easy, and with this amazing cola, brown sugar, and pineapple ham glaze, this just might be the BEST spiral ham recipe. Especially for Easter and other holidays!

What is a spiral cut ham?

Spiral-cut hams were made for convenience. It can be pretty difficult to cut bone-in hams, and most of us don’t want to deal with that at the holiday table.

A spiral ham is cut (before you buy it) in a spiral shape around the bone. This leaves the meat on the bone, but makes it really easy to slice the ham when you’re ready to serve it. Genius!

How long does Brown Sugar Pineapple Ham need to cook?

As with any meat, how long to cook a spiral ham depends on the size of the ham and your oven. It will vary slightly, but a good rule of thumb is about 10-15 minutes per pound of meat.

However, simply following our recipe, you will get a perfectly cooked ham!

Internal temperature for Pork

You’ll be checking the internal temperature every 10 minutes as you baste and glaze, so this time will vary.

We just want to make sure we get to an internal temperature that is safe to consume (140°F) while continuously glazing with our pineapple ham glaze to keep it moist.

Beef Tenderloin is one of the best cuts of meat, so it deserves to be cooked right. This beef tenderloin roast is perfectly cooked and full of flavor. Learn how to cook beef tenderloin for an amazing main course dish to serve on the holidays or special occasions. This is the BEST beef tenderloin recipe, just wait and see!

beef tenderloin roast

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Beef Tenderloin Recipe

Beef Tenderloin Roast is a great dish for Christmas day, or any big holiday. This is the best beef tenderloin recipe, slow roasted and broiled to perfection!

It’s important to have an amazing main dish at the center of every holiday meal. Whether it’s beef, pork, or chicken, it needs to be simple and taste incredible at the same time. If you’re going with beef for your meal, then you can’t pass up the Best Beef Tenderloin Recipe!

This beef tenderloin roast is just so good. This dish comes out so moist and flavorful, it’s absolutely to die for! The best main course for a big feast. It takes time to prepare, but it’s well worth it. Make sure you get it in the refrigerator a day or so ahead of time to get the process started. 

Let me show you how to cook beef tenderloin to perfection! Make it for Christmas, Easter, or any other occasion that deserves a special meal.

This is the best Beef Tenderloin Recipe, perfect for holidays and special occasions!

overhead view of sliced beef tenderloin on a plate

Beef Tenderloin Roast

This beef tenderloin recipe definitely takes some time to prepare, but every minute is worth it for the incredible flavor that comes out in the end. This dish requires planning, so it’s perfect for special occasions and big feasts, when you know you’re going to need an amazing main course.

Prep needs to start about 1 or 2 days before cooking. The beef needs to be seasoned and refrigerated for AT LEAST 8 hours, but I recommend going up to 24-48 hours. Slow roasting the beef tenderloin at a low temperature ensures that the meat is fully and evenly cooked, without drying it out. And then it’s finished off under the broiler to give it a beautiful color and even more flavor.

This beef tenderloin roast is a really great option for Christmas or Easter dinner. Serve it with plenty of veggies and side dishes to complete the meal. I think it goes great with Honey Glazed Carrots, Roasted Melting Potatoes, Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin, and Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

What seasoning do you put on beef tenderloin?

Before cooking, rub the beef tenderloin with salt and pepper, then refrigerate. This is just the initial seasoning, but most of the flavor is added during the basting and broiling phase. We’re using a seasoned butter marinade (with shallots, garlic, and thyme), and it adds so much flavor!

easy meals for holidays

Cooking on a holiday can save you hundreds of dollars. But it’s no vacation if you spend all the time in the kitchen! These vacation meal ideas will save you time and money so you can enjoy your holiday.

Holiday rental meal ideas

Save hundreds of dollars on your next holiday by staying somewhere that has kitchen facilities so you can cook meals instead of eating out?

I know.

It doesn’t sound like much of a holiday, does it?

This satirical piece from The Onion just about sums it up: Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming all Household Duties in Closer Proximity to the Ocean.

The problem is, eating out for a week or two on vacation, especially in Australia, can cost hundreds of dollars.

So if you’re on a budget, self-catering makes sense.

But…

You can absolutely do it in a way that means you don’t spend all your time shopping and cooking and cleaning, regardless of whether you drive to your holiday destination or fly.

And if you’re just staying home during your next holiday? These tips can give you a well-earned break as well.

Instead of shopping or cooking or looking for a restaurant that is not too expensive (ha!) and that has something everyone in the family will eat, spend that time kicking back on the deck, margarita in hand, watching the sunset, with these easy vacation meal ideas.

The Other Benefits of a Self-Catered Holiday

What are the benefits of cooking on your holiday besides savings a huge amount of money?

  • You’re eating more healthily. Eating out tends to be less healthy than what you cook at home and the serving sizes can be huge! And while you don’t have to eat everything on our plate, research shows we eat more when portion sizes are bigger. Another benefit: you’re not stuck with “kid’s meals” which translates as endless chips and chicken nuggets!
  • Reduce food waste. Speaking of not eating everything on your plate, that can add up to some significant waste, both of food and money!
  • You’re in control of what your family eats. This is particularly important for families with food allergies.

I’m not saying that you should never eat out. Eating out can be fun! But you can save a significant amount of money if you cook some or most of your meals yourself.

Why It’s A Good Idea to Plan Ahead

No one wants to be constantly thinking about the next meal while on vacation.

Planning your vacation meals ahead means you can get all that decision making out of the way so you can focus on having fun.

The other benefit is that if you are driving to your holiday destination, you can prepare meals ahead of time to take with you so you don’t have to cook at all!

On the other hand, if you’re not taking meals with you, you can arrive at your destination with a shopping list and get the shopping over and done with so you don’t have to worry about shopping for the rest of the holiday.

And you can avoid the overspending frenzy that can happen when you fill your trolley with more food than you can eat on your holiday ‘just in case.’

Before you start holiday meal planning, check out the facilities

Vacation meal ideas

So, you’re going on holiday where you can self-cater?

Before planning your meals, you need to consider the available facilities where you’re staying because it will influence your meal planning.

If you’re camping, is there a camp kitchen or other facilities or do you bring your own? And what cooking equipment do you have to take?

If you’re staying in a cabin, is there a stove or oven? Is there a BBQ? Do you have to take your own cooking equipment?

Is there refrigeration or a freezer available?

If you’re driving to your destination, do you want to pack your slow cooker so that you can come home each evening after a day of fun to a cooked meal?

Besides cooking facilities and equipment you might also want to check if the place you are staying supplies basic condiments like salt, pepper and cooking oil or whether you have to take them.

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Some things to consider taking include:

  • Salt, pepper and small containers of your must-have spices and sauces
  • Tea and coffee
  • Cooking oil
  • Foil
  • Containers or bags for leftovers and for packing snacks in your daypack
  • A sharp knife
  • A flexible chopping board
  • Dishwashing liquid and cloth
  • Can opener and bottle opener

Finally, go online to check what local supermarkets are close to where you’re staying and their opening hours so you can get the grocery shopping over and done with and you’re not caught out by shorter opening hours.

Ideas for Your Holiday Meal Plan

Now you’ve got a good idea of the facilities you have to work with, it’s time to plan out some meals.

Here are some general tips for vacation meal planning:

  • Keep things super simple. Easy to prepare meals that don’t require a lot of washing up – you’re there to relax and have fun!
  • Plan for some eating out.
  • Plan meals where you don’t need to buy ingredients in bulk. For example, don’t buy a kilo of rice for a single meal only to waste the rest.
  • Plan some special meals or foods that you wouldn’t normally eat.
  • Plan for leftovers. Leave the last day or two blank to use up what’s leftover.

Food ideas for the road tripper

If you’re driving to your holiday destination you have the flexibility to either take food with you, buy everything you need there or a bit of both.

Taking your own food will save you a heap of time and money. Here are some meal ideas that you can prepare ahead of time:

Frozen meals

Assuming there is a freezer where you’re travelling to, you can practically avoid the kitchen altogether by taking frozen meals you’ve already pre-prepared.

To transport, pack the meals in an esky (cooler) with ice and then transfer them to the freezer once you get to your destination.

While I’m not big on disposable stuff, freezing meals in foil trays mean you can avoid a lot of washing up, you don’t have to cart a lot of containers home and the foil trays are recyclable.

There are hundreds of frozen meal ideas on Pinterest, but a few ideas include:

  • lasagne
  • pies
  • pre-marinated chicken / meat / kebabs
  • pasta sauce
  • meatballs
  • burger patties
  • taco mix
  • pre-cooked shredded pork or chicken
  • frozen cookie dough

Foil Packet Meals

Meals in foil are great for BBQ cooking, oven cooking and camp cooking, especially if you don’t have baking dishes where you’re staying.

For foil packet meal ideas, Real House Moms has 25 foil packet meals to inspire and Happy Money Saver has complete instructions for preparing and freezing 5 foil packet meals.

Pre-prepared slow cooker ‘dump’ meals

If you’ve got the room, another option is to take your slow cooker with you. That way you can spend the day exploring and having fun, and then come home to a cooked meal. No work!

To make this even easier, you can prepare all the meal ingredients before you leave, freeze in packets and then just defrost and “dump” it into the slow cooker in the morning.

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Again, there are a bazillion recipes on Pinterest, but to get started here are 40 dump recipes for your slow cooker from Lauren Greutman.

Meals in jars

While not all meals can be stored in jars, this is great for taking homemade mixes so you can enjoy baked snacks without taking your entire pantry.

For our last holiday, we packed homemade pancake mix in a jar (you could use zip-lock bags instead to save space).

Other ideas include taking small packs of your favourite spice mixes for marinating BBQ meat or making your favourite dishes. For lots of ideas for meals in jars, check out this article that includes 493 ideas!

Simple Holiday Meal Ideas to Buy and Cook

Vacation meal ideas

If you’re flying to your holiday destination, it’s not practical to take a suitcase full of food.

Simple meals give you the best of both worlds: vacationing on a budget while still staying out of the kitchen as much as possible.

Visiting the local food market is an excellent way to really get an authentic experience of your holiday destination, especially if you travel overseas.

If you’re going to an exotic destination, get immersive by making local cuisine based on local ingredients.

However, if you’re travelling domestically, here are some quick and simple meal ideas that don’t require a lot of ingredients or ingredients that need to be bought in bulk.

  • BBQ chook and salad (bagged salad is convenient and you could add some pasta or potato salad. This meal requires no prep or cooking!)
  • Tacos (use up the rest of the BBQ chicken)
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Salad sandwiches (use up leftovers)
  • Stir fry using stir fry mix and single serve noodles or single portions of instant rice
  • BBQ kebabs and salad
  • One pot pasta meals
  • Burgers
  • Homemade Pizza (add that leftover brie from the nibbles platter and whatever other goodies you have leftover to a frozen pizza to make it a bit special)

Store prepared food is a great compromise between saving money, while not spending too much time cooking on vacation.

Printable Plans and Checklists

Make planning your next holiday super easy with these free downloadable planners and checklists.

holiday meal planning printable checklists

With a little planning, it is possible to have a real holiday and not spend it in the kitchen while still saving money by not eating out for every meal. But with all this talk about planning, my last tip is not to over plan. Leave room for spontaneity – those evenings when you’re having so much fun that you want to stay out and eat out.

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