Hosting holiday meals can be as stressful as it is joyful. From timing everything just right to considering the dietary limitations of your guests, there are a million and one things to think about. Enter: store-bought help. There is no rulebook that says everything has to be made from scratch. Here are a few grocery store items that can easily go from fridge or pantry to table in minutes.
PRE-CUT VEGETABLES AND CRUDITES
Pre-cut raw vegetables can be a huge time saver and healthy appetizer or side dish. These are almost always available at grocery stores, either separately (e.g., carrot sticks) or together in a crudités tray. They can easily be assembled onto a holiday platter with a delicious hummus or dip in less than five minutes. The addition of raw veggies to your holiday spread also adds a nutritional punch, with heart-healthy fiber, vitamins C, A and folate (to name a few), and can help balance out the richer, heavier dishes and appetizers.
Homemade gravy can add an extra layer of complication and time during meal prep, but it doesn’t have to be that way! There is nothing wrong with store-bought gravy to quickly enhance your holiday turkey and mashed potatoes. I like Simply Organic’s turkey-flavored gravy mix or Primal Kitchen’s classic gravy.
Having a basket of warm biscuits on your holiday table is almost always a crowd pleaser, and can be a great accompaniment for any spread. If only the act of making biscuits from scratch wasn’t so time-consuming! I am not above using (or recommending) canned biscuits for quick baking. Annie’s Organic flaky biscuits are wonderful, and you also can’t go wrong with the classic Pillsbury Grands Biscuits.
I know, I know: There is nothing like homemade apple pie during the holidays. But, it takes forever to make, and sometimes — often — it’s too much to think about cooking a full dinner and making a delicious dessert. Frozen pies and other easy desserts exist for a reason. In a pinch, I like Amy’s frozen apple pie, because it’s tasty and has a fairly simple ingredient list.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > RD-approved store bought, quick foods to use for your holiday dinner, via @myfitnesspal #myfitnesspal
TRADER JOE’S APPS
OK, you’ve got the dinner menu down, but what about the appetizers? There are a lot of frozen or pre-cooked options that can make life easier when your guests arrive. Trader Joe’s is my favorite one-stop shop for creative and flavorful appetizers. Trader Joe’s Camembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites top my list, and are rich, slightly sweet with a flaky, delicious pastry crust. These can be found in the freezer section and just take a few minutes in the oven before they are appetizer tray-ready. Trader Joe’s Fresh Bruschetta Sauce is also a great option to cut out the heavy lifting of veggie chopping and measuring when making fresh bruschetta. Simply spread this sauce over some crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a top-notch appetizer with a healthy dose of the powerful antioxidant lycopene from the tomatoes. The chicken and vegetable Gyoza Potstickers should also not be missed and can be quickly boiled and paired with a low-sodium soy sauce.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I know what you’re thinking: Are some of these options even healthy? My answer is (almost always), they can be! When it comes to eating during the holidays, it’s important to look at the big picture — are you checking the boxes by having fiber, protein, healthy fats and colorful produce throughout the day? If so, there is plenty of room for store-bought items like some of these that may be lacking a bit in the nutrient department. It’s also important to keep in mind that stress management during the holidays should be a priority, and if that means taking a few shortcuts with meal prep, that is absolutely a healthy option for you or your host.
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