5 Ways to Save Time This Thanksgiving

5 ways to save time this ThanksgivingThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. To me, it’s always been about eating good food with the people I love. Now that I am a mom, I’ve started brainstorming ways I can provide a memorable holiday for my family without spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Here are 5 ways to save time on Thanksgiving dinner without cutting corners:

Be intentional about your sides.

Do you really need 15 side dishes to enjoy the holiday? Think back on all the sides you’ve had throughout the years. Pick five or so that bring up the most warm fuzzies and forget the rest.

Use a mixture of homemade and store-bought sides.

Once you figure out the sides that are most important to you, decide which ones are worth the effort to make at home. Have an age-old recipe for stuffing that uses a secret ingredient? Make it at home. Think the supermarket’s coleslaw or cranberry sauce tastes about the same? Go ahead and buy it. (If you’re cunning, you could put it in a crystal dish so no one knows the difference.)

Cook whole chickens instead of turkey.

Did you know that baking a whole chicken tastes completely different than when you just bake the breast or the thigh? A few weeks ago, we cooked whole chickens for dinner, and I was surprised at home much it reminded me of turkey. Add to that the fact that it only takes 90 minutes to cook (turkeys take 3-4 hours to cook — on top of defrosting it for 4-5 days!). Since chickens are much smaller, you can cook what you need, saving you the agony of eating turkey leftovers for the whole week.

Involve your kids.

Okay, so maybe this tip doesn’t help you save time. But it can turn something tedious into a bonding moment. When I cook with my two year old, he gets to stir, mush, and chop (with my help)…but mostly he eats little pieces of vegetables I sneak his way. He loves being involved, and while it can greatly lengthen the time it takes to complete a task, it makes for some of my favorite memories.

Set intentions.

Be clear about what Thanksgiving is all about. Family, friends, love, spending time together — that’s what Thanksgiving means to me. My friend shared about her year spent in The Gambia. On Thanksgiving, they gathered together and ate tacos. Thanksgiving is not about the what, it’s about the who. It’s about taking time to strengthen the bonds you’ve created with loved ones.

I hope this post inspired you to create a memorable holiday that both you and your family will enjoy! What are your tips for saving time on Thanksgiving dinner?

9 Ways to Reduce Stress (That Don’t Involve Food)

9 ways to reduce stress (that don't involve food)Dear Mama,

I see you working on your third bowl of ice cream of the day. I know you’re stressed out about finances and a toddler who is deep into the temper tantrum twos, and I know that sometimes food is the only thing that gives you a little bit of relaxation. But any sort of benefit derived from junk food is short-lived and is a form of self-sabotage against your goal to lose weight.

So, today, I’d like to give you a few ways you can reduce stress with little spare time or money on your hands.

9 ways to reduce stress that don’t involve food

  1. Not only does dancing lower your stress levels, but it also includes exercise (see #6) and listening to great music (see #8).
  2. Prayer can reduce stress, help the body heal faster and lead to lower levels of depression.
  3. Deep breathing tells your brain to calm down, which in turn tells your body to calm down.
  4. Spending time outside helps with stress reduction by allowing you to get a little exercise (see #6), absorb some sunshine, encounter neighbors or have friendly small talk with strangers, and gives you peaceful time to process your thoughts.
  5. Spending time with loved ones: Okay, so your child can be a source of stress. But taking time to do a fun activity as a family can help to lower stress as well as strengthen bonds.
  6. Exercise has shown to lessen some symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  7. Meditation can boost your emotional well-being, as well as reduce stress. And since it often incorporates deep breathing (see #3), it’s a double!
  8. Listening to slow-paced music can help you calm down, with the possibility of inducing sleep. Even if the music is not slow paced, music is a powerful mood changer.
  9. Yoga incorporates deep breathing (see #3) and exercise (see #6). It promotes overall well-being.

There are many ways to relieve stress that don’t involve self-sabotaging your goals. Often times, these healthy stress reducers are longer lasting. Pick one, or a few, to try out. See what works best for you. Find the thing that allows you to reduce stress while continuing to walk forward in your journey.

Action Step

Today, I want you to spend 5 minutes doing something you love. It can be reading an old favorite, or adding more stitches to that scarf. It can be five minutes of the gentle yoga stretches you never get around to doing because you don’t have time for a full routine.

Pick one thing and spend just five minutes doing it.

How did you spend those five glorious minutes?