Take The Stress Out Of The Holidays With Meal Planning

October 9, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Holiday Ideas, Cheap Parties, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Take The Stress Out Of The Holidays With Meal Planning 

Family All Together At Christmas Dinner

The Hillbilly Housewife is back …

It took me a little longer than expected to get this next blog post written, but I have a good reason. I was busy putting the finishing touches on a brand new ebook – Meal Planning Made Simple.

Since meal planning has been on my mind quite a bit lately (even more than usual) I thought I’d talk today about how it can take the stress out of the holiday season.

I love all the big holidays coming up here in the US over the next few weeks. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are two of my favorite days of the year, but to be honest, I used to dread them. We always have big family get-togethers and of course that means lots of food. I used to be so tired after preparing everything that I was ready to go take a nap instead of enjoying the food and more importantly the company of my family.

One year it finally clicked and I realized that I could and should use the same strategies that I use to plan our meals each week to make holiday cooking easier. Here are my holiday meal planning tips:

Step 1 – Plan Ahead

Start figuring out what you will cook well ahead of time. I start at least 2 weeks before each major holiday. Get out your holiday recipes and make a master ingredient list. During the next day or so, go through your pantry, cabinets and fridge to see what you have already and cross it off the list.

Rearrange the remaining items depending on when you can buy them. Go ahead and get all dry items, canned items and frozen items. This is especially important for specialty items like certain spices that tend to sell out around the holidays.

One year I didn’t realize I didn’t have much sage left for our Thanksgiving dressing. By the time I got to the store (late Wednesday night) they were completely sold out. Thankfully my mother-in-law had an extra jar.

Get the remaining items a day or two before you cook them.

Step 2 – Prep Work

Do everything you can ahead of time. I chop my veggies a day or two ahead of time. If you know you’ll need sauteed onion and celery for example, you can either chop and store them in a bag in the fridge, or even go ahead and saute them the day before and store them in an air tight container in the fridge overnight.

Oven space is always at a premium during the holidays. Do as much of your baking during the days before the big meal.

Another big time saver is to measure and mix dry ingredients ahead of time. Just be sure to label everything well.

Don’t forget to enlist some help with these tasks (both the prep work and the shopping).

The week before a big holiday is also the perfect time to make sure your home is in good shape. Get all your cleaning and decorating out of the way now so you don’t have to worry about it the day before.

Step 3 – Cook Ahead

Sit down and make a list of the things you can cook / prepare the night before. Most casseroles can easily be made the night before. Just reheat them on the big day. The same goes for breads, muffins, etc. Desserts can be made and either chilled or reheated as needed. You can wash and put together most of your salad and have it waiting to be dressed in the fridge.

Step 4 – Make A Game Plan For The Big Day

Sit down and take notes about everything you still need to do on the actual holiday. You don’t want to spend time worrying and stressing about what you may be forgetting. Keep cooking times in mind and come up with a plan of what you need to do when. Note the times on your game plan sheet.

On Thanksgiving or Christmas day, work your way through the list, again enlisting help where you can. When it’s all done, sit back, relax and enjoy a wonderful meal and of course your family and friends.

Susanne – The Hillbilly Housewife

P.S. Please remember that the main reason I’m on this blog tour is to support Breast Cancer Awareness. 20% of all ebook – including my brand new Meal Planning Made Simple Ebook – and HBHW Club membership profits will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation

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