Alternative Christmas Dinner Ideas for a Healthier Holiday

Alternative Christmas Dinner Ideas for a Healthier Holiday

Publish Date September 19, 2023 4 Minute Read
Author Kroger Health Registered Dietitians

Alternative Christmas Dinner Ideas for a Healthier Holiday

With the holiday season in full swing, it’s time to start planning for another year of festive feasting. While ham and turkey are cherished Christmas classics, it’s fun to switch things up, try new things and make new memories with our friends and family. Whether you’re planning around health goals, dietary restrictions or turkey fatigue, we’ve got you covered with exciting alternative dinner ideas for your menu.

Benefits of Alternative Holiday Dinners

Beyond the excitement of unwrapping a new dish, alternative main courses may present your dinner guests with other benefits, too. From decreasing sodium intake to cutting down on food waste, there are plenty of reasons to switch it up this season:

  • Spend More Time with Friends and Family
  • Many of our alternative menu options are less time intensive than traditional dinners, so you can come out of the kitchen and spend more time making memories.
  • Cater to a Variety of Tastes
  • Whether you’re planning around different dietary needs, restrictions, preferences or allergies, it’s always great to have a variety of options for your guests. Choosing alternative main dishes is a great way to shake up the whole menu, adding a wide range of healthy sides for every taste and preference.
  • Give the Gift of Plant-based Nutrients
  • Many of us aren’t getting our fair share of fruits and vegetables in our day-to-day lives. This year, why not give the gift of a vegetarian meal? Making fresh veggies a holiday tradition is an excellent way to show your friends and family how much they mean to you.
  • Cut Down on Food Waste
  • If a traditional main dish leaves your family with leftovers for days, trying something new is a great way to make sure all the plates are cleaned.

Ideas for Alternative Holiday Meals

Now that we’ve explored some of the benefits an alternative main dish can bring, let’s get into planning your dinner menu. If your Christmas wish is a new main dish, consider these options:


If ham is your go-to holiday dish, opting for fresh pork cuts is a great way to reduce sodium intake, while still offering craveable home-cooked comfort. Pork is delicious, versatile and can easily be dressed up for a special occasion dinner. This apple spinach gouda stuffed pork loin and pork crown roast with red wine sauce are great examples of festive pork recipes.

Red Meat

Red meat is naturally rich in protein, low in sodium and loaded with vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, selenium, potassium and zinc. Try this steakhouse roast to save on time or choose versatile ground beef for lasagna, meatballs and more.

Fish and Seafood

Fish and seafood are traditional Christmas menu items in many countries, like Italy, Spain and Portugal, and there’s no shortage of festive fish recipes. As a healthy bonus, adding fatty fish to the holiday menu can help boost everyone’s essential fatty acid levels. Salmon, for example, has 1.24 mg of DHA and 0.59 mg of EPA omega-3 fatty acids in just 1 serving.

Vegetarian Options

The benefits of a plant-based diet are as vast as their culinary possibilities. Help your family fill up on fiber while making the vegetarians in your life feel at home with a vegetarian main course. This eggplant parmigiana is a perfect example of a plant-based meal fit for a special occasion.

Ready to Explore Your Options?

Visit our blog for more holiday meal tips and tricks, like tips for healthier holiday eating, recipes, meal planning and more. Looking for personalized advice? Schedule a Telenutrition appointment with one of our dietitians.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.