Holiday parties. Christmas concerts. Family gatherings. Holiday shopping. Vacations. Decorating. Baking. Whew – that’s a lot to pack into one month!  Give yourself the gift of a few cooking shortcuts to take some of the pressure off so you can relax and be merry, because nobody wants a scrooge in the kitchen.

Here are our holiday hacks for speeding things up a bit without sacrificing flavor or nutrition this season:

Go Semi-Homemade

Chicken Lime Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Lime Lettuce Wraps

There’s no shame in starting with store-bought. The time you save can turn a potential take-out night into a total kitchen win. For example:

  • Grab a rotisserie chicken and incorporate it into soups or chilis so you can reap the benefits of high-quality protein without spending extra time cooking it. Shred the chicken and stuff lettuce leaves with a squeeze of lime for lunch, like we did here in our Chicken Lime Lettuce Wraps.
  • Start with our favorite gluten-free Simple Mills Pizza Crust for pizza dough, then add your favorite jarred sauce and vegetable toppings plus a sprinkle of flavorful cheese to make it a meal!
  • Buy pre-chopped produce, especially those hard-to-manage vegetables (ahem, squash) that are more time-intensive to prepare. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast for a side dish or add to salads during the week.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Batch cooking is an efficient way to keep up with your healthy eating goals no matter what time of year. It essentially means cooking more than what you need in the moment so you can take advantage of having all of your cooking tools and gadgets out (read: it’s way more efficient!). Not to be confused with leftovers, batch cooking usually refers to one component so you can repurpose it later. For instance:

  • Need rice or quinoa for your Monday night meal? Make a large batch so you can easily incorporate it in salads and grain bowls all week long.
  • Making hard-boiled eggs? It takes the same amount of time to make six as it does to make two. Enjoy as a snack, crumble into salads, or mash with some avocado.
  • Baking sweet potatoes? Make a few more than you need and you’ll have the base for an easy, customizable lunch ready to go. You can also purée or mash the flesh for baked goods and use in place of pumpkin in recipe like this one.

Sheet Pan and One Pot Meals

Tofu Vegetable Sheet Pan Stir Fry

Tofu Vegetable Sheet Pan Stir Fry

Raise your hand if your least favorite part of cooking is the clean up. We feel you! Make it easier on yourself by searching for one-dish meals to seriously cut down on time spent spent doing the dishes. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Take-out food can be loaded with hidden sugar, salt, and fat. Whip up this simple and healthier Tofu Vegetable Sheet Pan Stir Fry  – no wok required!
  • Check out our video for Sheet Pan Cashew Garlic Chicken – a tasty no-fuss way to incorporate a serving of cruciferous vegetables, which are rich in both fiber and phytonutrients.
  • Still learning how to use your Instant Pot? This Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore is simple, delicious, and packed with lycopene-rich tomatoes.