The 30-Day Holiday Season Meal Plan

by Carla Henderson

Family and friends enjoying a fall dinner

Worried about holiday weight gain? Stay the fit course with this 30-day meal plan.

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The three weeks between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday break can be rough when it comes to nutrition and meal prep. Parties, libations and celebrations can give your goals a hangover, but this 30-day plan will keep you on track while still allowing you to partake in the season’s eatings.

Keep Calm and Party On

Word to the wise: This is not the time of year to be hardcore about losing weight or shedding body fat. It’s far more realistic — and achievable — to focus on maintenance. This 30-day plan covers the toughest parts of the holiday season and has you eating healthy and clean most of the time, but a built-in “party clause” allows you to enjoy the holidays without guilt or worry.

As the plan is written, your daily totals land between 1,500 and 1,700 calories, which is on the lower end of the active-gal spectrum for maintenance, leaving some wiggle room within your week for one or two “freebie” meals. Compare your social calendar to the meal-plan chart, and on the days you have a party or an event to attend, trade out a scheduled meal for a freebie. Keep your indulgences reasonable — e.g., one slice rather than one half of grandma’s apple pie — and you’ll be fine. Remember: One meal won’t make you fat, just like one meal won’t make you fit.

Damage Control

If you’re a social butterfly and quickly use up your allotment of freebies for the week (and then some), don’t beat yourself up. Instead, be proactive and look ahead at your calendar: Perhaps limit your socializing to one event per week, or volunteer to be the designated driver for another. If you have multiple events lined up, spread your freebie calories across the board, having a small indulgence here and there rather than blowing it all on one meal or happy hour. Eat as clean and healthy as possible on days when you aren’t celebrating, and, of course, stick to your regular workout routine.

Simple Swaps

Not all holiday meals need to be gut bombs. Use these easy ingredient swaps or smart(er) treat choices to stay in the fit lane.

  • Choose no-calorie, flavored seltzers as cocktail mixers over juice or soda and save your sugar “allowance” for holiday treats.
  • Opt for pumpkin over pecan pie and save 14 grams of fat and 180 calories (⅛ of pie).
  • Instead of goopy green-bean casserole, drizzle steamed green beans with olive oil and sprinkle with slivered almonds, salt and pepper to save countless calories and eliminate a shaker’s worth of sodium.
  • Sub almond or coconut milk for cream in eggnog to slim down a holiday favorite. Or trade eggnog out completely for hot cider and save 100 calories and 11 grams of fat per cup.
  • Replace half the mashed potatoes with mashed turnips or cauliflower to reduce the calories by a third and add a bounty of immune-boosting vitamin C.
  • Enjoy a baked cinnamon apple instead of apple pie and save 200 calories and 13 grams of fat (⅙ of pie).

The Recipes

Roasted Turkey Breast

Cauliflower Gratin

Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Chocolate-Drizzled Popcorn

Sheet-Pan Potato Pancakes

Kick-the-Can Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is the quintessential side dish for holiday meals, but most “jellied” versions that come in a can contain high-fructose corn syrup and other added sugars. Impress your guests this year by making your own:

To a medium saucepan, add 1 1⁄4 cups water, 1⁄4 cup maple syrup, 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a dash kosher sea salt (optional). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

The 30-Day Holiday Season Meal Plan

Use this plan to stay on track with you nutrition — and your goals!

DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5 DAY 6 BREAK-FAST 3 scrambled eggs + 1 slice toasted whole-wheat bread + 1 cup sliced melon 1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1⁄4 cup low-fat granola + 1⁄4 cup sliced strawberries 1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1⁄4 cup low-fat granola + 1⁄4 cup sliced strawberries 3 scrambled eggs + 1 slice toasted whole-wheat bread + 1 cup sliced melon Protein Oats: ⅓ cup oatmeal + 1 scoop protein powder + dash salt + 1 cup nonfat milk. Mix well. Microwave 90 seconds. Top with 2 tbsp chocolate chips. 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1⁄4 cup low-fat granola + 1⁄4 cup sliced strawberries LUNCH 1 (4-oz) can solid white tuna + 2 tbsp olive oil mayo + salt and pepper (to taste) + 17 multigrain Wheat Thins + 1 cup sliced carrots Deli Sandwich: 4 slices roast beef or chicken breast + 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 1⁄4 cup mashed avocado + everything bagel seasoning + 1⁄2 cup sliced cucumbers Roasted Turkey Breast + Cauliflower Gratin + 1 cup steamed broccoli + 1 cup cooked quinoa Roasted Turkey Breast + Cauliflower Gratin + 1 cup steamed broccoli + 1 cup cooked quinoa 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup cooked brown rice + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 1 cup steamed broccoli Deli Sandwich: 4 slices roast beef or chicken breast + 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 1⁄4 cup mashed avocado + everything bagel seasoning + 1⁄2 cup sliced cucumbers SNACK 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice + 1 oz raisins 1 cup sliced melon + 1 oz almonds + 6 oz 2% cottage cheese 1 cup sliced melon + 1 oz almonds + 6 oz 2% cottage cheese 1 cup sliced strawberries + 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt 1 cup sliced strawberries + 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1 oz almonds 1 medium apple + 2 tbsp peanut butter + 1 scoop protein powder + coffee/water DINNER Roasted Turkey Breast + Cauliflower Gratin + 1 cup steamed broccoli Roasted Turkey Breast + Cauliflower Gratin + 1 cup steamed broccoli + 1 cup cooked quinoa 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup cooked brown rice + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 1 cup steamed broccoli Better Burger: 3 oz 95% lean ground beef (grilled) + 1 multigrain bun + 1 slice cheese + small green salad + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice Roasted Turkey Breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + 1 cup steamed green beans Roasted Turkey Breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + 1 cup steamed green beans Daily Nutrition Calories: 1,650

Protein: 146g

Carbs: 123g

Fat: 66g

Calories: 1,680

Protein: 132g

Carbs: 158g

Fat: 62g

Calories: 1,677

Protein: 130g

Carbs: 175g

Fat: 54g

Calories: 1,680

Protein: 136g

Carbs: 144g

Fat: 61g

Calories: 1,613

Protein: 128g

Carbs: 178g

Fat: 46g

Calories: 1,560

Protein: 135g

Carbs: 153g

Fat: 47g

DAY 7 DAY 8 DAY 9 DAY 10 DAY 11 DAY 12 BREAK-FAST Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake + 1 scoop protein powder + coffee/water Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake Egg Sandwich: 4 egg whites + 1 toasted multigrain English muffin + 1 slice cheese + everything bagel seasoning Protein Oats: ⅓ cup oatmeal + 1 scoop protein powder + dash salt + 1 cup nonfat milk. Mix well. Microwave 90 seconds. Top with 2 tbsp chocolate chips. Protein Oats: ⅓ cup oatmeal + 1 scoop protein powder + dash salt + 1 cup nonfat milk. Mix well. Microwave 90 seconds. Top with 2 tbsp chocolate chips. LUNCH 4 oz baked/grilled salmon + 1⁄2 cup brown rice + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables Deli Sandwich: 4 slices roast beef or chicken breast + 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 1⁄4 cup mashed avocado + everything bagel seasoning + 1⁄2 cup sliced cucumbers 6 oz grilled chicken breast + 1⁄2 cup cooked white rice + 1⁄4 cup black beans + 1⁄2 cup shredded lettuce + 2 tbsp diced tomatoes + 1⁄4 cup sliced avocado + 2 tbsp salsa 4 oz baked/grilled salmon + 1 cup brown rice + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables 4 oz baked/grilled salmon + 1⁄2 cup brown rice + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables 1 (4 oz) can solid white tuna + 2 tbsp olive oil mayo + salt and pepper (to taste) + 17 multigrain Wheat Thins + 1 cup sliced carrots SNACK 1 medium apple + 2 tbsp peanut butter + 1 scoop protein powder + coffee/water 6 oz 2% cottage cheese + 1⁄4 cup pineapple chunks + 1 oz cashews 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice + 1 oz cashews 6 oz 2% cottage cheese + 1⁄4 cup pineapple chunks + 1 oz cashews 1 medium apple + 2 tbsp peanut butter + 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + dash cinnamon 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1⁄4 cup low-fat granola + 1⁄4 cup strawberries or blueberries DINNER Better Burger: 3 oz 95% lean ground beef (grilled) + 1 multigrain bun + 1 slice cheese + small green salad + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice 6 oz grilled chicken breast + 1⁄2 cup cooked white rice + 1⁄4 cup black beans + 1⁄2 cup shredded lettuce + 2 tbsp diced tomato + 1⁄4 cup sliced avocado + 2 tbsp salsa 4 oz baked/grilled salmon + 1 cup brown rice + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables 6 oz grilled chicken breast + 1⁄2 cup cooked white rice + 1⁄4 cup black beans + 1⁄2 cup shredded lettuce + 2 tbsp diced tomatoes + 1⁄4 cup sliced avocado + 2 tbsp salsa 3 oz grilled sirloin steak + Sheet-Pan Potato Pancakes + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables 3 oz grilled sirloin steak + Sheet-Pan Potato Pancakes + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables Daily Nutrition Calories: 1,662

Protein: 118g

Carbs: 140g

Fat: 74g

Calories: 1,575

Protein: 134g

Carbs: 144g

Fat: 57g

Calories: 1,600

Protein: 134g

Carbs: 173g

Fat: 46g

Calories: 1,583

Protein: 131g

Carbs: 152g

Fat: 51g

Calories: 1,705

Protein: 128g

Carbs: 169g

Fat: 60g

Calories: 1,648

Protein: 120g

Carbs: 153g

Fat: 64g

DAY 13 DAY 14 DAY 15 DAY 16 DAY 17 DAY 18 BREAK-FAST Egg Sandwich: 4 egg whites + 1 toasted multigrain English muffin + 1 slice cheese + everything bagel seasoning + 1 cup fresh mixed berries ⅓ cup oatmeal cooked with water + dash cinnamon + 1 oz almonds + 1 scoop protein powder + water/coffee + 1 medium banana ⅓ cup oatmeal cooked with water + dash cinnamon + 1 oz almonds + 1 scoop protein powder + water/coffee 3 scrambled eggs + 1 slice whole-wheat toast + 1 clementine tangerine 3 scrambled eggs + 1 slice toasted whole-wheat bread + 1 clementine tangerine Egg Sandwich: 4 egg whites + 1 toasted multigrain English muffin + 1 slice cheese + everything bagel seasoning + 1 clementine tangerine LUNCH 6 oz grilled chicken breast + 2 cups green salad + 1⁄4 cup chickpeas + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice + 3 rice cakes 4 oz grilled chicken breast + 2 cups green salad + 1⁄4 cup chickpeas + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice + 3 rice cakes Turkey Sandwich: 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 4 slices turkey + 1 slice cheese + lettuce + 2 slices tomato + 1 medium apple Stir-Fry: 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup stir-fry veggies + 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce + 1 cup cooked white rice Stir-Fry: 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup stir-fry veggies + 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce + 1 cup cooked white rice + 1 cup steamed green beans 6 oz grilled chicken breast + 2 cups green salad + 1⁄4 cup chickpeas + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice SNACK 6 oz 2% cottage cheese + 1⁄4 cup pineapple chunks + 1 oz cashews 1 small container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1 cup mixed berries + 1⁄4 cup low-fat granola Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice

Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice

1⁄4 cup hummus + 2 oz pita chips Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice + 1 oz almonds

DINNER 4 oz baked/broiled salmon + Sheet-Pan Potato Pancakes + 5 steamed asparagus spears 4 oz baked/broiled salmon + Sheet-Pan Potato Pancakes + 5 steamed asparagus spears Stir-Fry: 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup stir-fry veggies + 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce + 1 cup cooked white rice Shrimp Pasta: 1 cup cooked high-protein pasta + 6 oz cooked jumbo shrimp + 1⁄4 cup marinara sauce + 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese + 1 cup steamed broccoli Shrimp Pasta: 1 cup cooked high-protein pasta + 6 oz cooked jumbo shrimp + 1⁄4 cup marinara sauce + 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese + 1 cup steamed broccoli Stir-Fry: 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup stir-fry veggies + 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce + 1 cup cooked white rice Daily Nutrition Calories: 1,550

Protein: 128g

Carbs: 131g

Fat: 58g

Calories: 1,560

Protein: 125g

Carbs: 164g

Fat: 50g

Calories: 1,597

Protein: 112g

Carbs: 202g

Fat: 45g

Calories: 1,615

Protein: 137g

Carbs: 189g

Fat: 40g

Calories: 1,568

Protein: 113g

Carbs: 183g

Fat: 44g

Calories: 1,597

Protein: 134g

Carbs: 171g

Fat: 48g

DAY 19 DAY 20 DAY 21 DAY 22 DAY 23 DAY 24 BREAK-FAST ⅓ cup oatmeal cooked with water + dash cinnamon + 1 oz almonds + 1 scoop protein powder + water/coffee 1 toasted whole-wheat English muffin + 2 tbsp nut butter + 1⁄2 sliced banana + 1 scoop protein powder + coffee/water Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup milk of choice Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup milk of choice Overnight Maple Cinnamon French Toast Bake + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup milk of choice 3 hard-boiled eggs + 1 clementine tangerine + 1 toasted multigrain English muffin LUNCH 1 (4 oz) can solid white tuna + 2 tbsp olive oil mayo + salt and pepper (to taste) + 17 multigrain Wheat Thins + 1 cup sliced carrots Turkey Sandwich: 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 4 slices turkey + 1 slice cheese + lettuce + 2 slices tomato Turkey Sandwich: 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 4 slices turkey + 1 slice cheese + lettuce + 2 slices tomato 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + Cauliflower Gratin 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + Cauliflower Gratin Deli Sandwich: 4 slices roast beef or chicken breast + 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 1⁄4 cup mashed avocado + everything bagel seasoning + 1⁄2 cup sliced cucumbers SNACK 1 clementine tangerine + 6 oz 2% cottage cheese Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 scoop protein powder + coffee/water

1 clementine tangerine + 6 oz 2% cottage cheese 1 clementine tangerine + 6 oz 2% cottage cheese 1⁄4 cup hummus + 1 cup sliced carrots 1⁄4 cup hummus + 1 cup sliced carrots + 2 oz pita chips DINNER Shrimp Pasta: 1 cup cooked high-protein pasta + 6 oz cooked jumbo shrimp + 1⁄4 cup marinara sauce + 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese + 1 cup steamed broccoli 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + Cauliflower Gratin 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + Cauliflower Gratin 3 oz sirloin steak + 4 oz baked sweet potato + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables 3 oz sirloin steak + 4 oz baked sweet potato + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables 5 oz sirloin steak + 4 oz baked sweet potato + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 1 cup steamed mixed vegetables Daily Nutrition Calories: 1,541

Protein: 139g

Carbs: 124g

Fat: 60g

Calories: 1,693

Protein: 124g

Carbs: 179g

Fat: 62g

Calories: 1,570

Protein: 131g

Carbs: 169g

Fat: 46g

Calories: 1,629

Protein: 143g

Carbs: 179g

Fat: 43g

Calories: 1,600

Protein: 128g

Carbs: 185g

Fat: 45g

Calories: 1,669

Protein: 112g

Carbs: 167g

Fat: 64g

DAY 25 DAY 26 DAY 27 DAY 28 DAY 29 DAY 30 BREAK-FAST Protein Oats: ⅓ cup oatmeal + 1 scoop protein powder + dash salt + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice. Mix well. Microwave 90 seconds. Top with 2 tbsp chocolate chips. 1 toasted whole-wheat English muffin + 2 tbsp nut butter + 1⁄2 sliced banana + 1 scoop protein powder + coffee/water ⅓ cup oatmeal + dash cinnamon + 1 oz almonds + 1 scoop protein powder + water/coffee + 1⁄2 medium banana Protein Oats: ⅓ cup oatmeal + 1 scoop protein powder + dash salt + 1 cup nonfat milk. Mix well. Microwave 90 seconds. Top with 2 tbsp chocolate chips. Protein Oats: ⅓ cup oatmeal + 1 scoop protein powder + dash salt + 1 cup nonfat milk. Mix well. Microwave 90 seconds. Top with 2 tbsp chocolate chips. Egg Sandwich: 4 egg whites + 1 toasted multigrain English muffin + 1 slice cheese + everything bagel seasoning + 1 medium banana LUNCH Deli Sandwich: 4 slices roast beef or chicken breast + 2 slices whole-wheat bread + 1⁄4 cup mashed avocado + everything bagel seasoning + 1⁄2 cup sliced cucumbers Roasted Turkey Breast + 4 oz baked sweet potato + 1 cup steamed green beans Roasted Turkey Breast + 4 oz baked sweet potato + 1 cup steamed green beans 6 oz grilled chicken breast + 2 cups salad greens + 1⁄4 cup chickpeas + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice + 1 clementine tangerine 4 oz grilled chicken breast + 4 oz baked potato + 5 steamed asparagus spears + 1 tbsp butter 4 oz grilled chicken breast + 2 cups salad greens + 1⁄4 cup chickpeas + 2 tbsp light dressing of choice + 1 clementine tangerine SNACK 1⁄4 cup hummus + 1 cup sliced carrots + 2 hard-boiled eggs + 2 oz pita chips Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 oz almonds

Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 oz cashews

2 tbsp peanut butter + 1 medium banana + 1 oz raisins Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 oz almonds

Chocolate-Drizzled 

Popcorn + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk of choice + 1 oz cashews

DINNER Roasted Turkey Breast + 4 oz baked sweet potato + 1 cup steamed green beans 4 oz baked/broiled whitefish + 1 cup cooked quinoa + 1 cup steamed mixed veggies 4 oz baked/broiled whitefish + 1 cup cooked quinoa + 1 cup steamed mixed veggies Roasted Turkey Breast + 4 oz baked potato + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 5 steamed asparagus spears Roasted Turkey Breast + 4 oz baked potato + 5 steamed asparagus spears + 1 tbsp whipped butter Roasted Turkey Breast + 1 cup cooked quinoa + 5 large steamed asparagus spears Daily Nutrition Calories: 1,756

Protein: 126g

Carbs: 180g

Fat: 61g

Calories: 1,671

Protein: 130g

Carbs: 181g

Fat: 56g

Calories: 1,610

Protein: 124g

Carbs: 179g

Fat: 53g

Calories: 1,575

Protein: 127g

Carbs: 163g

Fat: 51g

Calories: 1,540

Protein: 117g

Carbs: 155g

Fat: 60g

Calories: 1,607

Protein: 138g

Carbs: 170g

Fat: 49g

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