Jena DeMoss: How to navigate the holiday season hustle with quick and easy family meals

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The busy holiday season is upon us and between school, work and holiday parties, it can be hard to get the family back to the dinner table for a meal. I’m here to help with quick family meal solutions that will not break the bank!

We know that spending can add up during the holiday season, so budget-friendly, simple meal solutions are the name of the game! Here are a few of my favorite tips to get dinner on the table without breaking the bank:

Use whole rotisserie chicken as a quick and ready protein to balance your plate. Pick the meat yourself to save valuable dollars and turn it into enchilada filling, put on top of salads to pack a nutritional punch or even bulk up your favorite soup or stew recipe with rotisserie chicken.

Taco night can bring the whole family to the table; mash a can of Hy-Vee no-salt-added black beans with your ground meat to stretch this family favorite while adding in extra fiber.

Don’t be afraid to cook in batches and stock your freezer. Batch cook a few family favorite meals and freeze the rest to easily pull out and reheat leftovers when you need a quick dinner.

Just as you make holiday plans, consider adding meal planning to your holiday to-do list to take some stress off your plate during this busy season. Check out these top three tips for success when it comes to meal planning and prep this time of year.

• Make a plan: Use a calendar to mark down dinner plans for the week. It’s a busy time of the year with holiday parties, shopping, holiday activities, etc., so planning in advance can help get your family around the table to enjoy a family meal.

• Make a list and check it twice: This will limit unwanted spending and food waste. Double check what’s already in your pantry to help avoid purchasing duplicate ingredients you already have on hand.

• Prep-ahead time-savers: Carve out some time each week to prep those dinner components to ease family mealtimes, like peeling and chopping vegetables, precooking rice, beans or lentils and roasting vegetables.

Pan Fried Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Serves 4

All you need

• 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

• Hy-Vee salt

• ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp That’s Smart! salted butter, softened

• 1 to 2 tbsp That’s Smart! 2% reduced-fat milk

• Coarsely ground Hy-Vee black pepper

• 1 tbsp Hy-Vee canola oil

• 4 (4-oz each) boneless top loin pork chops, about ½-inch thick

• 1 cup refrigerated pressed apple juice

• ¾ tsp Hy-Vee cornstarch

• ½ tsp apple pie spice

• ½ tsp Hy-Vee Dijon mustard

• 2 Gala apples, cored and cut into 6 wedges

• 1 small Vidalia onion, cut into 6 wedges

•½ tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish

All you do

1. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water; add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and gently boil for 12 to 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain well.

2. Return potatoes to saucepan. Add ¼ cup butter; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in enough milk until light and fluffy; season to taste with salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

3. Heat canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Add pork chops and cook over medium heat for 7 to 9 minutes or until pork reaches 145 degrees, turning halfway thorough. 4. Transfer pork chops to a plate; cover to keep warm.

Whisk together apple juice, cornstarch, apple pie spice and mustard; set aside.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add apples, onion and ½ teaspoon thyme. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or just until softened, stirring frequently. 5. Push apples and onion to side of skillet. Add apple juice mixture to center of skillet; cook and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return pork chops to skillet and heat through. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired. Serve with mashed sweet potatoes.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 494 calories, 26g fat, 13g saturated fat, 101mg cholesterol, 472mg sodium, 42g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 21g sugar, 1g added sugar, 27g protein

Recipe source: Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Apples and Onions | Hy-Vee