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Creative Meal Ideas to Prevent Preholiday Cooking Burnout

With the holidays around the corner, we’re all obsessed with googling the best holiday recipes and learning to make Granny’s hot rolls and pecan pie as well as she did. But let’s not forget we still have to feed ourselves until the big day too. Take the stress out of preholiday meals by planning a series of quick and easy meals you can throw together in a snap. But quick and easy doesn’t have to mean pedestrian and boring. Shake it up with these creative, time-saving ideas.

Shrimp ceviche

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Image: My Colombian Recipes.

The easiest way to cook is not to cook at all. Simply toss fresh shrimp and your favorite vegetables in lemon and lime juice, cover and place it in the fridge for about 20 or 30 minutes.  When the shrimp is “cooked” pink, you’re ready to season and serve. Can’t find freshly caught shrimp? No worries. Quickly poach the shrimp in boiling water for two to three minutes first.

Get the recipe from My Colombian Recipes.

Cheesy taco pasta

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Image: Kindly Unspoken.


You know those weeknights where you have maybe twenty minutes to throw a meal together but zero minutes to run to the grocery store for ingredients? Those are the kind of nights it’s worth having a quick and tasty recipe in your back pocket. Pasta is always a hit with kids and cheesy taco pasta is a hands-down winner. You can even add some secret veggies in here if you want to because everyone knows veggies covered in cheese are the best way to sneak some nutrition into your kid’s meals.

Get the recipe from Kindly Unspoken. 

Pepperoni pizza bagel

Swap that schmear for a few tablespoons of zesty tomato sauce. Your boring breakfast does double duty as dinner with just a dash of creativity. Top your bagel half (or an English muffin half or halved French bread) with shredded mozzarella and your favorite pizza toppings, bake it for about 10 minutes and you’ve got yourself a pizza party.

Grilled Hawaiian barbecue chicken in foil

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Image: The Recipe Critic.

Heavy-duty foil is your best friend when it comes to cooking no-muss, no-fuss meals that don’t taste like no-muss, no-fuss meals.

Wrap a chicken breast, some Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce (technically, you can use anything you like, but this brand goes so well with the pineapples and soy sauce), pineapple slices, soy sauce, garlic and vegetables in a foil packet, put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so, and you’ll have a shockingly delicious meal no one will believe took you only 10 minutes to prep.

Get the recipe from The Recipe Critic.

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Image: Amazon.
Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce $3.23 on Buy now Sign Up

Chicken Parmesan slider

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Image: Saving Room for Dessert.

Cut prepared Brazi Bites garlic-Asiago rolls in half and place the bottom halves in a baking pan. Brush cooked chicken nuggets with melted butter and place them on top of each roll. Cover them with mozzarella cheese and spicy tomato sauce and sprinkle it with grated Parmesan. Brush the inside of the tops of the rolls with the remaining butter and put them on top of the sandwiches. Bake them for 20 minutes. If you can’t find Brazi Bites, use your favorite plain rolls and season the butter with garlic.

Get the recipe from Saving Room for Dessert.

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Image: Brazi Bites.
Brazi Bites Cheese Bread Garlic Asiago $5 Buy now Sign Up

4-cheese gourmet grilled cheese from your toaster

Toaster bags are the invention of the year when you’re trying to skip doing the dishes. No ovens, no pans — all you need for an amazing melty-cheese masterpiece is a few minutes, one space-age sandwich bag and your toaster — your quiet, unassuming little toaster, which now has serious panini superpowers.

Place two slices of medium cheddar, a slice of mozzarella and some shredded Gruyère and Parmesan between two slices of buttered bread. Add some cooked bacon if you like. Then stuff the sandwich in a toaster bag, slide the bag into your toaster and stand back. Some serious cheese magic is about to happen.

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Image: Amazon.
Nonstick reusable toaster bags $8.59 on Buy now Sign Up

Instant Pot chicken chile verde

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Image: Savory Tooth.

You just need a handful of ingredients to make this bulletproof chicken chile verde. Twenty-five minutes later, you’ll have a heaping pot of spicy chicken chile verde you can eat on its own or use to make tacos, nachos, burritos, burrito bowls and quesadillas.

Get the recipe from Savory Tooth.

Nashville hot sauce chicken tenders

You could cook up some frozen chicken fingers according to package instructions and dip them in ranch or Dijonaise or whatever. You could. Or you could set aside that polite ramekin of creamy dip and smother those chicken tenders with this wildly addictive Nashville Hot Sauce that will, as we say in the South, make your tongue wanna slap your brains out. Serve it with white bread and pickles. You can also toss the tenders in your air fryer for extra crunch.

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Image: Amazon.
Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce $21.99 on Buy now Sign Up

Cheater fish tacos

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Image: A New Dawnn.

Warm up some corn tortillas and elevate those frozen fish sticks with a few tablespoons of a quick creamy carrot and cabbage slaw. Add a squeeze of fresh lime and maybe some fresh cilantro, and you’re basically ready for a food truck.

Get the recipe from A New Dawnn.

Instant Pot lemony quinoa vegetable salad

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Image: Clean Eating Kitchen.

Combine quinoa, veggies and lemon for a fresh, comforting dish you can eat hot and cold. It’s healthy, vegan and gluten-free.

Get the recipe from Clean Eating Kitchen.

Tater tot & meatball casserole

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Image: Roti n Rice.

Like most families, your freezer most likely has a bag of frozen meatballs or frozen tater tots, probably both. No? Check behind that half-open box of frozen chicken cordon bleu. There we go. Combine those with a bag of shredded cheddar cheese, a few additional pantry items and dinner is served.

Get the recipe from Roti n Rice.

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Image: Clean Eating Kitchen. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

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