The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. The shopping, the decorating, the wrapping, and the baking - it’s nonstop madness for two months. But we can help with at least one of those holiday-induced headaches. Here are some of our best tips for how to spend less time and stress cooking your holiday meals and more time savoring them with the ones you love.
Pre-Cook the Food
Take some time the night before, or even a few days before, the big holiday to cook some of the side dishes for the big meal. By having some of the food ready to go in advance, you’ll be saving yourself quite a bit of time the day of.
Plan the Meal Ahead
Even if you don’t have time to cook some food beforehand, still set up a game plan for the big day. Having a timeline and dishes prepared and ready to go in advance will save you valuable time and hopefully stress. Spend some time the night before the holiday dinner locating and setting up your ingredients, dishes, measuring cups, etc. and have it all lined up and ready to be prepared. On the day of, tape all your recipes to your cabinets in order to cut back the time you’ll inevitably spend frantically searching for them. No matter what, follow the number one rule of holiday cooking: never go in without your armor and a battle plan.
Recruit Family Members to Cook Side Dishes
Who says all of the work should fall on the host? Have your family members help you out by bringing the sides. Cutting back your list of foods to cook will allow you more time to focus on the main courses, as well as get you out of that stifling kitchen in half the time.
Foods With Shorter Cooking Times
Skip the full turkey and go for a smaller turkey breast already coated in seasoning. This will save you valuable time in your holiday cooking adventures. Picking up some instant cooking sides could end up being your savior. If they taste just as delicious, no one will know the difference.
Slow Cooker Savior
Do double duty with the cooking by using a slow cooker for some of those necessary sides and casseroles. You can cook double the food in half the amount of time! Prepare your meal the night before, and have it cook and heat throughout the night. Wake up to the savory smells of your favorite holiday dishes and feel the relief of knowing you won’t be slaving away all day in the kitchen. Another little tip is to pre-bake the pies and freeze them. Start preparing your favorite holiday desserts as early as you want - all you have to do is freeze them up until the big holiday dinner. They’ll be just as good a few days later!
Relinquish all responsibility of preparing Christmas dinner and have it catered by those who enjoy cooking much more than you ever will. Nothing wrong with getting a little bit of help - hey, who says your family has to know your little secret?
Once all that holiday cooking and baking and family time has passed and the in-laws have finally vacated the premises, you may find yourself stuck with a fridge full of leftovers. Here are a few tips for what to do with all of that leftover holiday food:
Post Holiday Get-Together
Invite your friends over for some post holiday fun and serve up all those leftovers from the holiday dinners. Who says holiday ham can’t be enjoyed any day of the year?
Lunch for a Week
When you’re unsure of what to do with leftovers, packing them for your kid’s lunch or your own is always a safe bet.
Drop Off the Leftovers at a Shelter or Church
If you know all of your leftovers are going to end up going to waste, why not do something nice and give the food to a local shelter or church that feeds the homeless? The holiday season is all about giving and this could be one great way to make someone's day who is in need of a little help.