5 Holiday Eating Hacks

I’m not a foodie, I’m an eater. And let me tell you, the holidays are for eaters.

Here are five tips for maximizing holiday deliciousness from my new book Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious.


1. In the Event of Blandness, Your Carry-On Can Be Used As a Saucetation Device

Airplane food stinks. In part that’s because the cabin is so dry that it reduces your taste buds’ sensation by up to 30 percent. You need more flavor. 

Jury-rig a TSA-friendly travel bag of three-ounce shampoo and conditioner bottles by filling them with sriracha, honey, soy sauce, or whatever seasonings float your boat. Grab extra pretzels and crumble them on your food to add crunch and salt. When mealtime comes, you’ll be the envy of your aisle. (Also—in-flight mojitos!)


2. Proper Eatiquette and Maximizing Deliciousness at the Holidays

Stomach space is a precious resource. At Christmas dinner or any big holiday meal, remember:

* Focus on the special foods, the ones you can’t get the rest of the year.

Don’t fill up on nuts! And appetizers are a no-no, unless they’re special or part of a family tradition.

As with an all-you-can-eat buffet, survey the options before choosing anything. Sample widely, then get seconds of the best stuff. 

Go for a walk between dinner and dessert.

Ask your host in advance what time you’ll actually eat, so you can be at the right level of hunger when the dinner bell rings.

Did I mention that you shouldn’t eat any nuts?

3. It’s Not a Scoop, It’s a Dome: A Tortilla Chip Revelation

Tired of tortilla chips that break under the weight of too much dip? As we prepare for college football bowl season and the NFL playoffs, remember this trick. Take a scoop chip, turn it upside down, and place it on your fingertip like a thimble. It’s now a dome, one of the strongest shapes in engineering, able to withstand great quantities of guacamole.


4. Make-Your-Own New Year’s Festivities

Want to actually enjoy New Year’s Eve instead of getting suckered into some expensive, overblown affair? Here are three tips:

* Lower your expectations.

Stay home.

*  Throw a Make-Your-Own-Sundae Party! Or a Make-Your-Own-Grilled Cheese Party. Or even a Make-Your-Own-Sushi Party. (It’s easier than you think.) Assemble a variety of base ingredients and let guests (including kids) get creative. Offer some obvious options and a few wild cards. Set it up so people can make small portions, which allows them to try several recipes before getting full.

5. The Leftovers Exchange Party

A few days after any big holiday meal, you’re probably tired of two things: your leftovers and your family. So throw a Leftovers Exchange Party! Invite friends over with their leftovers, put all the plastic containers out on the table, and go to town. This way you can eat different leftovers and learn new recipes for next year.

Dan Pashman’s new book, Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious, is available now wherever books are sold. He’s also the host of the Cooking Channel web series Good to Know and You’re Eating It Wrong, as well as the WNYC food podcast The Sporkful. 

More from the holiday stress support line:

Make punch and you’ve make everyone a cocktail in one go.

Cooking tips from 40 cookbooks to help you find the perfect present.

We know you’ve all been extra nice this year. That calls for eggnog.