So it’s here. Those few days we’ve been waiting for all year or at least since the first week after summer vacation. Christmas has arrived and NY eve is coming, but in just a few hours after the holidays have officially started, it turns into Christmore. We are having too much of it and immediately start wishing it ends sooner rather than later or we will just die of overeating and overdrinking. Every year we make a pledge to never ever eat that much again. Never ever buy and cook that much again. Never ever throw away that much food again. Then history repeats itself and Oops!…I did it again.
Is it possible with some good planning and smart tactics to turn next Christmore into Christless? Let’s give it a try in 2017 and save ourselves a lot of money, efforts and mindless food waste.
Christmas(NY Eve) is coming and your fridge looks empty.
Don’t panic. Don’t rush to the store.
Do you know anyone that has ever been left hungry during Christmas season? No. And (hopefully) you never will. So please don’t panic. No one is going to starve for the next 10 days. Yes, you have to go to the store, but not until you’ve calmed down and played this mantra on repeat. There-will-be-enough-food-for-everyone-all-the-time.
Here’s how that will happen.
- Make a plan
Take your time in between opening your empty fridge and rushing to the store. Sit down and write down the specific number of dishes you plan to prepare for the holidays. Add some fruit, nuts, drinks and that’s it. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your shopping list with other people’s shopping carts. Good for them, not for you.
- Plan for less
If you’re going to be at home with your family and friends for 3 or 4 days, don’t plan for a three-course meal, three times a day. That’s too much. Always. Schedule at least three meals less. You will receive some last-minute invitations to go out, someone will come unexpectedly with a great home-made pie or whatever. It happens all the time, you don’t want to insult your guests’ culinary efforts and you’ll end up eating their meal instead of the one you’ve planned and cooked.
- Cook for less
You can make your Saturday-12-pancakes mix with closed eyes. But how much soup will be enough for four kids, a pair of grandparents, an uncle, two aunts and your brother-in-law? It’s OK if there’s no soup for everyone because not everyone likes soup. When we make our holiday cooking plans, we assume that there should be enough of everything for everyone and that’s one of the main reasons there are so many leftovers after each meal. And that applies even to your delicious chocolate fudge which under normal circumstances disappears three minutes after it’s set on the table. But who has space left for dessert after a full Christmas dinner?
- Less is enough
Plate as much as possible. This will be kind of revolutionary, but you can set the table without putting all the cooked food on it. Invite your guests to come to the kitchen and fill their plates. Research proves that we eat with our eyes, so once we’ve put something on our plates and plan to eat it, we will. And it will be 14% less than if we have a bottomless bowl on the table instead of a single serving option.
- Enough is enough
Leaving the pots on the kitchen counter (or in the oven/refrigerator) also helps with the out-of-sight-out-of-mind strategy to avoid mindless eating and inevitable food coma. Experiments have shown that when you have to walk 6 feet to reach your food, you are most likely to reconsider your decision. With big family meals, it works even better. You want to go for a re-fill but you stop to hear your uncle’s joke, then you laugh, then you say “Cheers” and you forget about the refill.
- Take your time
This will come as a shock to you, but if you eat with a friend, you eat 35% more than if you eat alone. If you eat with 7+ people, you eat 100% more. Double. How to beat this statistic during lavish holiday lunches and dinners? Be the last to start eating. Eat with the pace of the slowest eater on the table. Follow the “half” rule – your plate has to be half salad or vegetables all the time.
- Freeze the moments
By freezing the meals. The chance that you’ll still have some Mexican casserole left on December 28th is close to 100%. Chances that someone asks for it on December 28th – close to zero. Chances that you’ll be sick and tired of cooking on January 2nd – again close to 100%. Just put everything that’s cooked and uneaten in the freezer right after Christmas dinner. You’ll save the food from eventually going to the trash (cause we all know that’s going to happen) and you’ll save the day when you wake up hungry and hungover in 2017.
- Warm that body
Not with a blanket, but with a long walk to the 24/7 deli. We’ve already discussed why buying in bulk is not a good idea and it applies to Christmas grocery shopping with extra force. When planning your holiday season shopping, don’t pile your cart as if it’s apocalypse time and you need at least two-week supply for 10 people. Stores will close for a couple of days, but if you run out of raisins it’s not the end of the world. Look on the bright side of life and think of it as a chance to get out of the noisy crowded house. Do you know that you have to walk a mile for every 100 calories consumed? You do the math.
We at CogZum believe in that good planning and smart shopping are the key to successful budget optimisation along with reducing household food-waste to a minimum. We try to help you be a wiser and a better host this season with these useful tips. Stay tuned and healthy and we promise you more friendly advice and insightful information to fight our common good cause.