Oh, Joy… it’s the Holiday Season!
There has always been a little part of me that dreads “family dinners” that are not made by me. It’s hard to be a guest in a home of a relative and also ask them to change the way they prepare their food just for your child, or yourself.
If it’s for yourself as a grownup, or nursing mother, then it’s easy enough to snack on what you can and then just pass on the butter and cream laden dishes when the time comes. BUT, when you are a toddler, pre-schooler, or a little kid, it’s not so easy to watch every one else eating and then be told “No, you can’t have that.” So what’s a parent to do? In our case, we are not invited to bring food to share. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, my kitchen resides in a nuclear testing zone and any food I prepare will surely melt my relatives. I’m not offended, no way. Pfffft. I also have tried to ask for the food makers to not plop an entire stick of butter in the corn, or a pint of cream in the potatoes, or smother the rolls with melted butter, but no one ever obliges.
So, here’s what I have been doing for the last decade+…
I make sure to have all the foods of Thanksgiving dinner ready in my own house for the making. I have those divided rubbermaid containers also. You always have a couple of options. If you know the turkey will be rubbed with butter or maybe vegetable oil (if you can’t eat soy) you can purchase a single turkey breast and bake it the day before. Chicken is also a fine substitute. If your family orders a meal that you are unsure about, bring your own meat. It’s just safer that way.
Here’s the rest of my quick and easy plan. I usually make my kids stuffing, potatoes, corn, and a bread. I just can’t ever be sure of the unknown.
Potatoes and stuffing are super easy as Stove-top is dairy free, just keep a canister of the preseasoned kind on hand. Most boxed potato flakes are perfectly fine too. I think we use Idaho Spuds here. Can of corn, and a pack of dinner rolls and you are good to go! For the potatoes and stuffing, you can do it at home and heat it later, or if you are lucky to get into the hosts kitchen to boil some water, you can do it at the house. I do it at home.
I just boil a pot of water, measure the stuffing into a bowl, the potatoes into another bowl. I forego the margarine/butter part and use rice milk in the potatoes when my kids are little. Now that my big kid is a teen, I’ll use margarine and a little salt in my taters. When the water boils, I just measure it into the bowls, cover, then stir in a little while. I scoop them into the divided containers, add meat, and some corn. We are good to go!
Gravy can be tricky. Making your own is a good option, but hard without a base. Little kids probably won’t notice the missed gravy, but if you need to do it in a pinch, here’s what I do:
I put 2 tablespoons of margarine in medium pot with 2 tablespoons of flour. I cook it while wisking until it’s browned. Then I add a cup of chicken or turkey stock/broth from a box and simmer until thick. You can add a little Gravy Master if you can find it in the store. Gravy Master is not soy free.
I bring the food with us to our dinner, I try to not notice dirty looks, and my kids are happy and well fed. Don’t forget to bring along your safe margarine too!! Luckily cranberry sauce is safe no matter what, so you don’t have to worry about that.
I’m sure you have different foods your kids or family likes. I would love you to share some of your holiday survival ideas for everyone!
Happy Thanksgiving!! Gobble gobble.