Meal planning for the western “holidays” used to be a cinch! Everyone pretty much prepares the same things every year. Not so easy now that we’re dealing with biblical feasts that last for DAYS!

If you’re anything like me, a seven-day feast makes it a little more challenging but a lot more fun! I can really stretch my culinary muscles and try lots of new spins on already great dishes.

So, the Feast of Dedication- Chanukah, if you will- is upon us! Like, TOMORROW, upon us! I hope y’all have your meal plans all set and ready to go! If not, you’re late! But, no worries. Here’s 5 tips to make meal planning for the week ahead easier on your sanity AND your wallet.

5 Tips for Meal Planning for High Holy Days

°Give Yourself at Least a Week– Two would be ideal but I know how family life goes. Its kinda hard to meal plan when you’re working on ten things at once and trying to keep your kids from body slamming each other. That being said, it’s not absolutely impossible to set aside 30 minutes- an hour to plan the week’s meals.

The best time for me is after we’ve put the boys to bed. I grab my tea cup and my planner and get to brainstorming. Because I meal plan Every week, it only took me about a half hour to get a plan together for Chanukah this year. But I know it can be daunting for beginners because last year- WHEW! Don’t even get me started!

You’ll be glad you did it though because it really saves you money, time and brain energy! You can go in the store and know just what you need to get and get out of there. You also dodge the “what are we gonna eat?…IDK, what do you want” bullet!

° Always Check your Circulars –  A couponer I am not! Well, not really! I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. If you’re a couponer or even just getting started, high holy days are the perfect time to put those babies to use. For the savvy bargain shopper who is NOT that organized- CHECK YOUR LOCAL ADS! It takes literally 10- minutes do go on a few stores website and do a sales check. Some local grocers will even have the ads for the next few weeks listed on their sites.

If saving money is important to you, definitely make sure to check and see what will be on sale in your area BEFORE you start to plan. This past weekend I saved over $30 on chicken just by comparing prices at 3 local grocers. Trust me, sometimes the “cheap stores” are NOT the cheapest!

Sidenote: If you don’t have a bargain hunting husband, do not send him on store runs! Suffice it to say, I learned that lesson the hard way this go round!

°Stretch Your Culinary Muscles – High Holy Days are not the time to play shy in the kitchen ladies! Get outside of your box and try some new things! There’s so many flavors outside of the typical “holiday” meals and feast days are the perfect time to try some out.

If you have a super picky family, try incorporating delicious, international flavors into traditional meals. A Masala spiced turkey sounds awesome! Maybe add some curries to the mix! I’ve found that just about everyone loves a good curry chicken and rice. Still a quick and basic “chicken” dish but with out-of-this-world flavors!

If a whole dish is a bit much, try a dessert or a side, that way if anyone is to chicken to try it they don’t miss out on the rest of the meal.

°Get Prepped ahead of time – Even if you only chop your veggies for the next days meal the night before, the time you’ll save is worth it. Getting the prep work done before a big feast really helps things flow A LOT more smoothly!

Making your sauces, glazes and marinades in advance has the added benefit of giving those flavors time to “marry”. You’ll thank yourself- trust me! Marinate meats a few days early for the best flavors all the way through. NEVER underestimate the power of a good marinade!

Take a few minutes to get your seasoning veggies chopped up. You can freeze them in ziploc bags and take out as much as you need when you need it.

Getting your bread doughs ready the night before is a good idea too. Prepare your dough and pop it in the fridge. Take it out and let it get to room temp before you start working it again.

The idea is to make your week as easy as possible so you can actually celebrate the Holy Day- not spend it doing all the work.

°Keep it Joyful– High Holy Days can get seriously frustrating if you forget that it’s supposed to be a time of feasting, family and celebration. Don’t get so overwhelmed by the planning, prepping and cooking that you forget to have a good time.

All the tips I’ve mentioned here are to ensure that when the day comes, you’re ready and you can get it all done with less sweat (or hair loss).

Remember ladies, we set the vibe in our homes! If you want to have a joyful, holy feast- be JOYFUL! Take the time to give thanks for all of your provisions. Cook with some good music on. Dance in the kitchen! Have FUN! Your family will thank you for it and it’ll sure be a feast to remember.

Blessings to all the families dedicating their temples this week! May the Most High keep you in perfect peace!

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