December 14, 2016

Tips to a Stress-Free, Disaster-Proof Holiday Dinner (Yes, it’s Possible!)

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A little planning and some outside help reduces the stress and increases the joy in preparing holiday meals

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about guest lists, dinner menus and shopping trips to the grocery store. While the thought of tackling a holiday dinner can instantly cause panic in even the most organized of cooks, a few useful tips can go a long way in ensuring that your holiday meal is stress-free and enjoyable!


Two cups of hot cocoa or chocolate with marshmallow, gifts, mittens, christmas fir tree and notebook with to do list on wooden rustic background from above. Flat lay style.

There’s no substitute for time, so one of the best things you can do for yourself when you have a holiday dinner looming is to start planning ahead of time. Create your menu, confirm a guest list, make an organized shopping list, and prepare as many side dishes and desserts ahead of time as possible.  Consider setting up a grocery delivery from to save even more time.


Forget preconceived notions that since you’re the one hosting the holiday dinner, all the work has to be done only by you. Updating traditions in favor of a more unconventional route can make a huge difference in your sanity, so why not shake things up a bit and consider making your meal a potluck? You can still handle the main course, but you can assign sides, wine and desserts to your guests. Most people want to contribute anyway, so asking them to bring something may actually take the burden off of them.


Who says you have to have a sit down dinner with place settings and name cards? Why not consider a more casual buffet instead of a more formal setup. This way, your guests can mingle comfortably and sit where they’d like, which can take a lot of the stress off of you.



For easier planning and to add a lighter spin to your holiday meal, start at the beginning. You can easily make a beautiful veggie and hummus platter ahead of time as an hors d’oeuvre. Add some low-fat cheese, crackers, nuts and fruit and you’ve got yourself a nice range of healthy items for your guests to nibble on before the main event.


As far as side dishes for the menu goes, you can’t go wrong with roasting whatever vegetables are in season. Winter vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, cauliflower or sweet potatoes mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper are guaranteed to create healthy, colorful and delicious side dishes that everyone will love.

For more information or tips on how to plan a healthy, stress-free holiday meal, visit your local ShopRite dietitian or go online at

Written by Beth Ceccarelli, MS, RD, LDN, ShopRite Health and Wellness Writer