Meal Planning Ideas for December

Top Recipes for December Monthly Meal Plan


As the holiday shopping season gets underway, many of us find ourselves short on time and long on “to do lists.” Now is a great time to make sure that you have a monthly meal plan ready to go for December. A monthly meal plan can make your healthy eating efforts easier by giving you a plan to follow for the month. This simple task can help keep you out of the fast-food drive-through on busy days, which can quickly spoil your healthy nutrition plan. Planning meals in advance and using a grocery planner can help you cut down on food waste and save money at the grocery store, too.

Your December meal plan should include some healthy recipes along with your favorite holiday recipes. It’s important to find balance between your favorite holiday treats and your healthy diet plans in order keep yourself fit and healthy year-round. It’s important not to strictly diet through the holidays, as deprivation can lead to binge eating later. Disordered eating patterns are more problematic than just learning to eat healthy and enjoy what you are hungry for in moderate portions. Believe it or not, the average weight gain during the holidays is just a pound or two, not the 8 pounds I had always believed! So I do not promote dieting during the holidays.

Take time to enjoy some special holiday flavors in December’s monthly meal plan. There are many healthy holiday foods available this time of year. My favorites include nuts, cranberries and turkey.

Nuts in the shelled and unshelled variety are abundant this time of year. Nuts provide protein and are a rich source of monounsaturated heart-healthy fats, which can lower bad cholesterol and even reduce heart disease risk. Nuts also provide vitamin E, folate, potassium and essential nutrients like copper and magnesium. Enjoy nuts as a quick healthy snack, or use nuts to make individual bags of trail mix for breakfast on the run. Try making sandwich bags full of this easy trail mix blend:

Trail Map Recipe

  • 2 Tbsp. dried cranberries or other dried fruit
  • 2 Tbsp. nuts of choice
  • 1 cup low-sugar cereal
  • 1 Tbsp. dark chocolate chips

Another good holiday recipe idea is using leftovers from a previous meal in a new and fresh way. Turkey is often on sale during the holidays and is a good thing to put on your holiday shopping list. Turkey can be used just like chicken in a recipe. You can use leftover turkey, to make individually frozen burritos for quick lunches at a later date. Here is a recipe idea for make-ahead burritos:

Turkey Burrito Recipe

  • 4 cups shredded turkey
  • 1 (15 oz.) can creamed corn
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 cups low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 pkg. 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas. Evenly divide filling mix onto tortillas. Roll-up the tortillas and individually wrap each burrito with plastic wrap. Label and date. Place wrapped burritos in a freezer bag or container and use within 6 months.

When ready to use, simply thaw burritos and microwave or bake until heated through.

Using a monthly meal plan during December can help you enjoy the holidays without getting overwhelmed about eating healthy. The same principles of healthy meal planning can help you enjoy delicious and satisfying meals throughout the year, too. So be sure to keep these simple recipe ideas and tips on hand for the New Year.

Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RD

Jennifer M Wood, MS, RDN is registered dietitian nutritionist and successful food and nutrition consultant in Southeastern Minnesota. As the founder of a nation-wide gourmet food company, Wood wrote Jenny’s Country Kitchen…recipes for making homemade a little easier! (2003), which is a timeless collection of make-ahead, freeze-ahead and pantry-stocking recipes and time saving tips to help busy families put nutritious food on table. Wood graduated with a pre-med bachelors degree in nutritional science in 2001, completed her dietetic internship in 2007 and went on to complete a master’s degree in food and nutrition in 2011.

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