Tips, recipes, and activities for local getaways and solo celebrations.

WITH travel restrictions still in place, a lot of people who usually jump on a plane for the holidays will be picking a nearby local destination instead this year.

Renting a cottage or other property with plenty of indoor and outdoor space (and ideally a fireplace) is going to be a popular option, whether you’re self-isolating or not—especially for families still planning to get together in person.

For those of us staying home this year, it’s important to make the season feel just as festive as always. Enjoying a special menu can help do just that.

But planning a week (or even just a weekend) of celebratory meals can be an organizational headache without also trying to keep things healthy. Add to that the complications of packing and transportation if you’re heading out of town or have limited access to food, and “ho ho ho” can quickly turn into “no no no.”

One option to make your holiday meal planning easier is to buy all of your groceries in advance, which can help avoid lines and minimize exposure to others. But it can also add significantly to the weight of your luggage if you’re travelling––and your calorie intake if you’re buying a lot of ready-made products.

That’s why these recipes call for lightweight and time-saving ingredients that you can stock up in advance. Dried fruit, spices, mushrooms, lentils, grains, and high quality bouillon powders are the secret ingredients of many a gourmet getaway and quarantined foodie, adding decadence back into dinner without the excess sugar, sodium, and fat.

Chopping ingredients smaller will make them cook faster, while minimizing the number of pots and dishes you use reduces cleanup. That’s why these recipes all call for diced or sliced vegetables and only one or two pots, so you can sit back and relax by the fire a little sooner.

The best part of these rich and comforting recipes is that they’re also hassle free, so you’ll be able to spend more time relaxing and enjoying company (even the digital kind)––something we could all use a little more of.

(SOURCE: AP)

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