Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving meals as much as I did? Our buffet line was filled with tasty treats like roasted duck, slow-cooked pork, mashed potatoes, duck gravy, roasted brussel sprouts, and pumpkin cheesecake. The next morning we enjoyed homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls, and they tasted just as good the second day on Saturday! Yesterday I had a brownie and coffee with some friends, and after being exhausted at the end of a long weekend, we caved in to take-out pizza from Sam’s, our favorite local place, for dinner last night.
As we finish up our Thanksgiving leftovers, I’m planning out our meals for these next few weeks knowing that our diet has been less than ideal since Thursday. I’ve got three goals in mind: frugal, simple, and nourishing.
As much as I love rich foods and the occasional sweet treat, I notice that if I enjoy too many indulgences for too many days in a row, I start to crave them. I know that if I can get back on track and focus on easy-to-digest, healing, and nutrient-dense foods, the cravings will subside and my clothes will continue to fit. Our budget and schedule often seems stretched during this time as well, and I want to do whatever I can to alleviate any unnecessary stress for me in the kitchen.
What about these goals then?
Frugal: Not only do we splurge when it comes to calories around the holidays, we also spend more money on the food we prepare. However, some of the best foods for our bodies are also very inexpensive! I’m thinking lentils, brown rice, and winter squash as a few great examples. Focusing on these frugal staples for our coming meals will keep our budget in check after spending a bit more than usual for a special meal or two.
Simple: Holiday cooking often equals more money, more calories, and more time in the kitchen. I want my meals from now until Christmas to be simple since there are so many extra demands on our schedules during this season. Simple doesn’t have to mean boxed, processed, or fast foods, though. Very healthy meals can be very simple and quick when we plan ahead!
Nourishing: Many holiday foods are nourishing. Butter, vegetable salads, and roasted meats are great for any diet. However, most of our holiday foods are much higher in sugar than our typical fare, and that’s where we get into trouble. Cultured dairy and bone broths will be a big focus for us as we move on from Thanksgiving.
Want some specific ideas?
- Smoothies, starring frozen fruits, cultured dairy (like yogurt or kefir), and coconut oil. You can even sneak green foods like lettuce into those morning smoothies! The fermented dairy helps bring the flora in your gut into the right balance, which is very important after enjoying more sugar than usual. Introducing more beneficial gut bacteria can really cut sugar cravings.
- Eggs and toast, made from our sourdough bread, and topped with lots of good butter. The natural leaving process used in traditional sourdough negates the many downsides levied against bread and grain consumption. The protein and butter keep our tummies feeling full, thereby preventing additional over-eating.
- Soaked oatmeal. Soaking the grains overnight in something acidic, like a cultured dairy product, makes them much easier to digest. Few breakfast foods can be more economical than the humble oatmeal! We like to add frozen blueberries or seasonal apples to ours, along with some ground flax, cinnamon, a bit of sweetener, and of course, butter!
- Grilled cheese or egg sandwiches. If we don’t have eggs for breakfast, we often have them for lunch. They are full of nutrients without being heavy on the wallet. I like to pair these with raw carrots or apples.
- Leftovers. These usually shine as our lunch fare, so long as our dinners are large enough to provide leftovers. Nothing can be more economical and simple than eating what you already have prepared!
- Apples and peanut butter or carrots and bean dip. We generally eat a very filling breakfast, leaving us not overly hungry until early afternoon. We generally eat dinner around 5:00, so our “lunch” might actually be more like a snack. Pairing a fruit or vegetable with a protein is a simple way to hold us over until dinner.
- Soups, based on healthy, economical, and convenient bone broths. Anytime I make meat, I save the bones for making broth. The broth gets stored in repurposed jars in the freezer, ready to be transformed into all manner of tasty dinner meals. Broth is a great way to stretch the protein in our meals, and that means it also helps us stretch our grocery budget! It is famous for helping heal those who are sick, and it really does wonders for our systems all the time. Frugal, simple, and nourishing, broth is a great choice for our bodies before, during, and after the holidays!
- Frozen foods & pantry items will take a main role in our meals. As a one-car family with four small children, I rarely get to the grocery store anymore. When I go, I stock up on a large quantity of food so that I don’t need to go back within a couple of weeks. While this has its inconveniences, I’ve found it keeps the grocery bill lower. When I don’t go to a store, I’m not tempted to buy something that we don’t really need. Using up what we have at home will keep our grocery bill lower while allowing for the higher expenses of the holidays.
- Stretching meat with beans. This is one of my favorite tricks when it comes to frugal, nutritious meals. I’m thoroughly convinced that meat is not bad for us when it comes from healthy animals raised in their natural environments (think pastures, not feed lots). When I reduce the amount of meat in our meals, it is for economical purposes. I’ve found that adding an equal amount of cooked lentils (cooked in broth is a bonus!) to ground meat in a recipe is a great way to make it go further without sacrificing taste. I also love cooking a pound of dried beans (soaked overnight, and cooked in broth when possible) and adding them to a roast that has been slow-cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and Mexican seasoning for a tasty and frugal filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc.
One of the first meals up for this week will be a vegetable soup in duck broth. Yummy!
How about you? Any good post-holiday recipes you like to enjoy?
This post is linked up at Cultured Palate’s Tasty Traditions and The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.