By Monica Nyman
The holidays may look a bit different for many this year, with traveling and large family celebrations put on the back burner. The safe haven of home has become our workplace, school environment and where many will spend holiday “staycations” this year. It’s no surprise that cooking at home has become a growing part of everyday life.
The return of home cooking will play a role in holiday celebrations as we pivot once again to maintain the comfort of what holidays bring to families. Making a plan, keeping it simple and embracing the benefits of family time can help make your holidays even merrier.
Make a Plan
Making a plan ahead of time is key when feeding a family at home and preparing holiday meals. The dairy case offers many quick, nutritious options that are easy to serve. Pouring a glass of milk with meals or using it in hot chocolate takes just seconds. Consider serving yogurt parfaits for dessert, a yogurt-based dip with veggies as a snack, or cheese cubes with crackers for hors d’oeuvres. These simple ways to get in three servings of dairy per day are no-fuss and great-tasting. It’s easy to plan with dairy foods, because they are so versatile and pair well with all other food groups.
Keep it Simple
If preparing a holiday spread is yet another hat you are wearing this year, take a step back and stick to the basics. Instead of attempting all new recipes, keep it simple by preparing a few dishes that your family already loves. Milk, cheese, yogurt and butter are staple ingredients in many recipes, so be sure to stock up. Remember, there is no required menu that must be served on any given holiday. Give yourself a break this year, and stick with the low-stress tried and true. Be sure to make extra though, so there are leftovers to enjoy!
The positive effects of family time are well documented, and a “staycation” provides plenty of additional time to reap the benefits. Outdoor activities like hiking, walking in the park, playing games and making crafts are easy ways to engage your family. Remember to keep family traditions alive. In times of uncertainty and change, sticking with yearly traditions can help bring a sense of normalcy to home
This may be your year to start one a new holiday tradition. Gather your kids to read the story “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and make some delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies. Of course, you will want to serve a glass of cold milk to go with them!
From our families to yours, cheers to a healthy holiday season!
Monica Nyman is senior nutrition educator and registered dietitian with the St. Louis District Dairy Council.