How exactly to scale down Christmas dinner if you’re cooking for 1 or 2

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? (Pexels.)

The pandemic certainly taught us how to get creative when it comes to celebrating holidays.

And regardless of that, cooking up a giant ham or turkey might not be as realistic for some -- especially if you live alone or with a roommate or spouse.

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You could always scrap a traditional Christmas dinner and make whatever your heart desires, but if you still find yourself craving the usual holiday goodness, here are some ways that you can scale down your menu so you don’t end up with a fridge full of leftovers.

Turkey or ham

For many, the holiday isn’t complete without turkey or ham, but cooking one for just a few people is going to mean you’ll have leftovers for days, if not weeks. It might even result in food waste.

While some may want leftovers, it’s also a lot of work to do a whole slab of meat, so why not just make two turkey breasts instead of the whole bird? Or you could consider ham steaks.

Mashed potatoes

It’s honestly pretty easy to downsize mashed potatoes -- just don’t boil as many potatoes as you normally would. Instead of boiling a five-pound bag, just do six or seven medium- to small-sized potatoes, and you’ve got plenty for two people.

If you still want potatoes, but you don’t want to deal with making a pot of them, why not do a spin on the food?

Try a baked potato bar.

You can bake a giant potato and load it up with butter, sour cream, cheese, scallions and even bacon bits. And if you want a healthier version, have a baked sweet potato instead. Perhaps you could make homemade honey cinnamon butter for your sweet potato, too.

Green bean casserole

Just like stuffing and mashed potatoes, green bean casserole is one of those classic dishes -- but preparing a big casserole for just a few people doesn’t really seem realistic.

Instead, why not do a deconstructed green bean casserole? Sauté some green beans in a pan (or haricots verts, if you’re feeling fancy), along with onions and garlic, with a little bit of butter. Then toss them with some toasted panko breadcrumbs. That way, you’re still getting the green been and onion flavor with the crunchy top of the casserole, thanks to the breadcrumbs.


You can’t forget dessert. We have a couple of options for you.

A lot of this decision comes down to whether you want leftovers or not. If you do, then make your own normal-sized pie (or buy one) and eat all the pie you want all weekend.

You could also make a mini pie. Some grocery stores sell them, and there are tons of recipes online for making a tiny version. There is a pretty easy recipe you can follow (for pumpkin pie!) right here.

If you don’t feel like baking, but you still want something sweet, try ice cream or cinnamon rolls (you know, the pre-made kind). We’re sure you’ll find something!

No matter what you do, don’t stress about it. The past few years have been a roller coaster of a ride, so enjoy the holidays with your little bubble of family, watch some movies or binge a new TV show.

About the Author

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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