Saturday, November 13, 2010

De-Stuff Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Going Green Mama is already dreading the holiday scale...

Depending on who you believe, the average person will chow down on 3,000 to 6,000 calories at Thanksgiving dinner. That's one meal. Regardless of who you believe, that's a lot.

Scarfing down drinks, four separate starch choices (and that's before dessert), turkey and side dishes galore is bad enough. But the holiday tradition of kicking back, disgustingly stuffed, and sleeping or watching football the rest of the afternoon just makes matters worse.

And don't forget KP. You'll have loads of dishes to wash and bags of trash to toss as you're prepping and recovering from our excuse for excess.

And should I mention there are starving your town?

So here's my proposition: De-stuff your dinner this Thanksgiving. Here's a few ideas to get you started:

Delete dishes. The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, I was floored by the options for the meal. Instead of going nuts and causing stress in my small kitchen, I simply asked my family what was the one dish they couldn't live without? They answered, the meal was centered around those, and no one complained.

Schedule when you're serving. We all eat leftovers for days after the big dinner. But do we need the stress of juggling five dishes on four burners to make one meal? This year, consider simplifying your cooking schedule. Sure, you may love mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, but perhaps you serve one at lunchtime and one at dinner. It eliminates the "need" to eat everything, cuts back on crammed fridges, and you still get your taste.

Get a little fresh. Instead of boxed or restaraunt-bought dishes, consider making fewer dishes, but from scratch. Enjoy fresh, not frozen or canned, vegetables. Make a salad. And be thankful you're eating something that's better for you.

I know these are simple ideas, and I realize you might get some push-back. But think of the positives: Less food to cook. Less strain on the budget - and the waistline. Less dishes to wash. Less trash. And more time to simply be...thankful. And that's what the day is all about.


Jessica said...

I always thought that on a day that we're supposed to give thanks and think about all we have, we eat ourselves into oblivion. A simple meal is all you need. We're going to a relative's house this year but next year when I'm in charge we'll have...

Spaghetti squash, black bean, and chicken soup with sliced avocado
Whole wheat pumpkin muffins
Either steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots) or fresh fruit
Water and egg nog to drink

Jessica said...

Oops, I meant to say 'I always thought it was odd that on a day...." :-P

Robbie said...

Jessica - I think I may have to come to your home! (If nothing else, I need that recipe for the muffins...)

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

These are great suggestions, Robbie. I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year and have been stressing over the menu. It's mainly the number of starchy things that I'm not keen on. When we've already got stuffing and mashed potatoes, do we really need sweet potatoes and rolls and cornbread? I think not - but will my family protest? I like your suggestion of simply asking them. Think I'll go do that right now.

Jessica said...

Here's the pumpkin muffin recipe. It's wonderful! I sprinkled mini chocolate chips on some and shredded unsweetened coconut on others before baking.

Truffula said...


Focusing on quality over quantity makes the meal that much more enjoyable. This year, we'll have an additional challenge of dietary restrictions. On the other hand, finding acceptable recipes opens us to opportunities for recipes we haven't tried before!

Lisa Sharp said...

I cook everything from scratch for my husband's family every year. I start one-two days ahead of time and cook everything I can ahead of time so on the day of there is less to do. On Thanksgiving I do the meat, potatoes, and green bean casserole (which is made with homemade alfredo sauce not canned soup).

I make desserts, cranberry sauce and rolls ahead of time. It makes it so much easier.

Anonymous said...

You know, I have to admit, as much sense as your post makes...I'm still all over the Quantity part. I just love the assortment of dishes, the combinations, the way it all sort of fits together...I love it.

On the other hand, I'm also all over the leftovers. In one day, I make a turkey that feeds us for dinner plus 2-3 more dinners plus sandwiches plus soup plus leftover stock plus maybe shepherd's pie. For which I use leftover mashed potatoes, which also become latkes, gnocchi, plus whatever...and the sweet potatoes keep nicely too and go several more meals. The cranberry relish makes a great condiment for all those extra meals, plus a great spread for turkey sandwiches later. And the stuffing keeps for ages too...brown bag lunches for days.

Maybe I'm weird, but while I'm sure my Thanksgiving dinner is quite up there on the calories, I also only take pretty tiny servings of everything. That's why the leftovers are so varied and awesome...

Yeah, it's true, eating ourselves into oblivion is hardly a great choice for anyone. But spending a big chunk of day making really wonderful food my family will eat for a week, and then munch out of the freezer all winter, that I can deal with.

Not arguing, honestly--just offering a different perspective. :-)


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