The holidays are shaping up to be a lot different than we are used to. For many families that may mean not having the budget or time to shop for the holiday meals until the very last moment. If this ends up happening to you it may be a bit difficult to get everything done and have the holiday meal you really want but there is no reason putting together a last-minute dinner should get in the way of making the most of the holiday.
How to Put Together a Last-Minute Holiday Meal
Think Outside the Box
As food shortages hit the shelves many people are finding they live in an area where turkeys are not even available at the beginning of November let alone for a last-minute run. The good news is that while a turkey is traditional you can really serve anything you want for a wonderful thanksgiving because the holiday is all about spending time with your loved ones rather than being all about the food. Try something different like a roasted chicken or savory beef pot roast for your thanksgiving dinner. When Christmas rolls around you can do the same thing if you can not find a ham or turkey last minute shopping.
Make Missing Ingredients From Scratch
One of the hardest things to find right before a holiday dinner is whipped cream. This simple ingredient always seems to sell out because stores don’t keep enough in stock during a normal year. It won’t be any better this year. If you don’t manage to find some for your last-minute dinner you can grab heavy whipping cream to make your own in just a few minutes.
The same can be done for everything from stuffing to dinner rolls. Just keep in mind that you may never want to go back to the boxed version after you have had the pleasure of enjoying homemade side dishes at your holiday meal.
Ask Guests to Bring a Side Dish
While this may still be normal for many families it may not be in yours. Ask your friends and family to bring a side dish to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to ensure that everyone has a great time even if you are tossing together a last-minute holiday dinner. Who knows maybe someone will bring something unique and you will be left with an amazing new addition to your menu year after year.
Bulk Up the Meal
Even if you are missing holiday favorites or have to make do with a much smaller main dish you can still have a great and filling holiday meal. Bulk it up by serving salad or appetizers before the meal to make the whole thing stretch further and help ensure that no one goes home hungry.
Stick to your Budget
It may be tempting to pay more to have all of your traditional favorites but this can lead to trouble later on. Instead, make a point to stick to the budget you have available even if it means doing without as the prices rise. Having a traditional dinner isn’t worth not having what you need after the holiday is over.
Borrow From a Neighbor
Growing up I remember if my mom ran out of an ingredient, she would sometimes ask the neighbors to “borrow” an egg, cup of sugar, a stick of butter, etc. Even though things may be different today, don’t be afraid to ask a neighbor if they have something you need. Always offer to replace the item and even if they reject the replacement offer, maybe take them a slice of pumpkin pie, a plate of cookies, or a full plate of dinner.
The cost of everything is rising rapidly, especially groceries, and everyone is feeling the pinch. Planning for a Christmas meal isn’t cheap and we believe these ideas can help you prepare your last-minute Christmas meal.
16 thoughts on “How to Put Together a Last-Minute Holiday Meal”
Love the idea of having pot luck. It seems to be the norm here in the south.
These are great tips! I know it’s been a rough year for us so much will be made from scratch this year.
I will have to remember this if I have to ever throw one together. At the moment we go to my parents but one day they might not be able to do it, so I’ll have to figure it out.
I remember growing up my mom used to go to our neighbour for everything she’s forgotten to buy lol. Unfortunately these days we’re lucky if we even see ours.
We will not be having turkey this year as it will just be the 4 of us for Thanksgiving. We will have something like scallops or fish.
I agree to bringing side dishes. My kids will do so to help my youngest daughter and I with our holiday meals.
It can be stressful when it’s being done last minute. Any help you can get is good. Asking guests to bring a side dish can really help and create a nice variety.
Asking a guest to bring something along with them is what I would do. But I also ask my lovely neighbours to help me out if I am short on something
I’m so thankful to have my parents that live across the street from me. So, if ever I need something that I’ve run out of, in the middle of cooking for example, then I can just ask them.
We always go putluck. I so hate last minute so these are great tips. My anxiety level goes through the roof with last minute anything!
Great suggestions for a last minute meal, and then when in doubt there’s always take-out!!
I like the idea of everyone bringing a side. Making the turkey and the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and having everyone else bring something would be great for this upcoming holiday.
What a really great tips and ideas you have here! I love the idea of potluck!
I love the idea of having a pot lot. It sounds so amazing that everyone works together to make it happen. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Love this idea, I think most people don’t realize they don’t have to have turkey and it can still be a wonderful meal.
Thankfully, we’re still able to plan things out in advance. I was shocked that we were able to get a turkey at an affordable price since back in the summer the rates skyrocketed. These are some great tips for last minute holiday meals, though.