The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day mean family, friends, and feasting. Odds are that at least once or twice over the six week span, you will be the one in charge of the feast. With everything going on this time of year, it is easy to get overwhelmed, stressed out, and to get to the point that you just wish it would all be over. Spare yourself some of that stress by following our favorite tips for making holiday cooking easier.
1. Plan Ahead
This is the most important thing you can do to make any cooking or baking easier and less stressful. One of the things about cooking for the holidays that can turn something enjoyable into something excruciating is when you try to do things at the last minute. First, you will invariably spend more money than you need to because you won’t be able to shop for the best price and you are more likely to buy things you don’t need when you are in a rush. You are also more likely to forget key ingredients which will leave you scrambling for a replacement at the last minute.
Make this year easier by planning ahead for any event that you need to cook for including a menu, shopping list, prep list, and overall plan that includes details about timing.
2. Prep in Advance
There is no reason that you have to wait until the day of your event to do all the work. Many things can be made or prepped in advance and then stored in the refrigerator or even frozen until the big day.
Once you have a plan, figure out what things can be done ahead of time and then add time to your plan for advance prep prior to the big day.
3. Enlist Assistants
Another major holiday meal stressor is this feeling many of us share that we must do all the work ourselves. While it may be a badge of honor to make everything from scratch, create the perfect centerpiece, and frame it all with flawless decorating, it is also an unrealistic goal for most of us.
Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to do everything yourself. Let family members handle the decorations, the desserts, or any other details that will free you up enough that you can also enjoy the festivities.
4. Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better
Another way to say this would be, Keep it Simple Silly! For some reason, we equate holiday meals with course after course of gourmet dishes that most people at the table have never seen before. The bottom-line is that you don’t need to go overboard.
Stick to family favorites and limit your menu options. Remember, the food is important, but it isn’t only the food that makes the meal.
5. Clean the Kitchen
Before you bake your first cookie or plan your holiday menu, take an afternoon and clean your kitchen. This might seem like an odd way to start the holiday cooking season, but it can make a big difference when you get to crunch time. Starting with a clean kitchen means that everything is put away and organized and will be easy to find when you need it. It also helps ensure that you will have the surfaces available when you need them for rolling out dough or chopping carrots. It is also a great way to make sure you have the right amount of staples like sugar and flour on hand for your holiday menus.
Taking the time to start off on the right foot is a guaranteed way to make cooking easier and much less stressful this holiday season.