Holiday Meal Planning Lists

DSC_5149Our family enjoys the special meal we have for Christmas and also for Resurrection Sunday. That meal was originated by my mom. By popular vote, everyone loves the traditional favorites so we keep having that special meal. My mom has handed the responsibility for those meals down to me along with the recipes.

I have a master shopping list that tells me what to buy. There are many dishes in the meal and generally a single recipe is not enough, DSC_7417so that complicates the ingredient list. Why spend time twice a year redoing that? Once I made the list, I could save it on my computer and just open the file the next time I needed it.

Every year we have 3 family barbecues – Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. We like the same menu that has been fine tuned through the years by popular vote: hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, picnic eggs, baked beans, chips, chip dip, soda, and dessert (that is different each year). How many pounds of ground beef should I buy? How many packages of hot dogs and of brats? What about chips?

I like having enough for the meal, but I don’t want to have too much left over. Therefore I have a master shopping list for our barbecues that I keep on my computer, and then I fine tune it with each event. I note who was there, what I bought, what was left over. It has made those family meals so much easier when I don’t have to start from scratch with the plan and shopping list each time.

DSC_5313For example, at first, we were buying six pounds of ground beef, and we had so many hamburgers left over that we ate them for quite a while. For this year’s Labor Day, we bought three pounds of ground beef, and we had four hamburgers left over. Perfect! Also a couple of years ago, some began having their hot dog or hamburger in a lettuce wrap. Until I put iceberg lettuce on my master shopping list for the barbecue, we were sending someone back to the store the day of the barbecue for the lettuce that hadn’t been purchased. When it is on the list, it isn’t missed or forgotten.

What about you? Are there ways that you can streamline your holiday meals by tracking your menu, saving shopping lists, and writing down after-action reports such as how many you fed, how much was left over, or what you didn’t have enough of?

Trusting in Jesus,

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

20 thoughts on “Holiday Meal Planning Lists”

  1. I’m in charge of the Thanksgiving meal for the family for the first time this year 35 people! I’m anxious to see how it goes.

    On a side note, I have been doing monthly meal planning for our family for almost 2 years, but I recently started doing monthly meal shopping. I’m still fine tuning it, but it is nice not to have to go to the grocery store as often.

  2. That is a great idea to save the lists. I usually make a big master plan for a holiday, but I write it on scrap paper and throw it away when the holiday has passed, only to repeat the effort the next year. We also like having food traditions associated with specific holidays. I’ve already reminded my four year old that she is making the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (with supervision, of course!).

  3. I never would have thought to do that. I’m doing it this year. This is a wonderful idea. In fact my family and I were talking just this past weekend about this years Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners. We already forgot some items. Super idea! I will be making my list this year and saving it for sure. Thank you Teri!

  4. This is definitely something I can work on, thank you so much, Teri. Several years ago I started a ‘Christmas book’ which I use for lists of cards, gifts and after Christmas I add notes for next year on what non-consumables I had left over and stored in the loft along with other ideas. I’m going to add food lists into it thanks to your suggestion. I find Christmas a bit overwhelming due to my eldest child having her birthday on December 21st so an intense few days of visitors eating in our home. Thank you again for this great suggestion.

  5. Next time you have left over burgers just make chili and freeze it. Chili can be made with just about anything. It also freezes well and makes a fabulous dinner with corn bread on a cold wet rainy day.

    We are hosting a pot luck Thanksgiving and everyone is bringing their favorites.

    Have a joyous holiday season!

  6. Oh yes, I do this for our family meeting we have each year. We also eat the same every time, only the dessert is different. I have a list where I write down who was coming and how much we planned for each part of the meal. Then I also write down if it was too much. The next year I have a good basis for (better) planning. Yeah!

  7. Very cute idea! I will have to start working on that. What are picnic eggs?

    God bless,


    If you do a google search, you’ll find them. Basically, they’re hard-boiled eggs with the yolks scooped out and mixed with delicious seasonings and items like mayo.

  8. What a good idea. Although I like changing the menu around for the holidays, keeping each years previous menu and list is a good starting place.

  9. That is a great idea! I don’t have any specific tip for meal planning, but it reminded me of an embarrassing moment. When I was a kid and it was my first time to make the pies for Thanksgiving, I forgot to add sugar to the pumpkin pies!!! They tasted pretty weird. My mom ate a piece (I think just to make me feel better about it), but it was embarrassing!! So I guess my only suggestion is to never leave out the sugar! 😀

  10. I imagine another complicating factor is that as the kids got older, they ate more, so that had to be factored in as well.

    I also like the idea of using a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.

    Planning is always a good idea when holding a special event like that, especially with such a big crowd!

  11. I am a list-maker by nature, so I do exactly the same thing. And I do save my lists for holiday meals from year to year because our family doesn’t tend to like to deviate the menu (which is fine — always something to look forward to!). There is something about walking into the grocery store that suddenly completely distracts me, so without a list I would certainly forget something. Would love to hear more about your holiday menus!

  12. Looks great. I love the first picture of everyone we did that one year at my uncles in colorado. But we mostly just have it as our immediate family
    tis the season,

  13. Thank you so much for this advice! I have recently taken over the “big” family meals from my mom, and I’m still fine tuning everything. This was a very practical and helpful suggestion, and just at the perfect time!!

  14. Great idea Teri! I’m a listaholic but I don’t save many of them. Certainly not holiday meal lists. Starting this year! Love the idea. Keep’em coming!


  15. For the past 12 of the last 15 years I have been in charge of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I meal I prepare is the exact meal my great-grandmother prepared, by herself, in her kitchen. However, I have added menu items, over the years, to accommodate Phil’s family traditions when they are joining us, such as Wild Rice with mushrooms, and Corn Soufflé. I enjoy planning, prepping the menu items, and cooking up a fantastic holiday meal for my family. This year Zak and I are traveling to Brooklyn, NY to celebrate Thanksgiving with my son Dylan and daughter-in-law Sheila. I get to prepare our Thanksgiving meal with not only the traditional menu items, but introducing a few new, soon to become, a traditional item such as Pumpkin Cheesecake.

    Sending you all blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving,
    Mrs. Mari

  16. Thank you for your practical help and great ideas! Your family never ceases to inspire and encourage me in one way or another.

    Thanking God for all of you!

    Lisa in NJ

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