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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part 6, 2009 - Planning Holiday Meals

This is the first time in years that I will be cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other years, we have been off and have traveled to family for holidays. I'll enjoy creating some memories for our foster daughters, as well as having one of our daughters here. And we've invited others to join us as well. But it's a lot to think about, so it's important to be organized. Here are some thoughts:

- Determine which special holiday meals you’ll be preparing. Will you be hosting any parties?

- Decide what you will serve for each special meal or party. Make a list for each event. Make sure to have a balance of protein, starch, something green and something red/orange/yellow. Try to avoid a lot of last-minute or time-consuming recipes. (By the way, keep your list in front of you until after your meal. Have you every looked in the fridge after a meal and realize you forgot to serve something!?!)

- Do you have enough dinnerware, glasses, silverware, linens, and serving pieces?

- Are there some items you could prepare in advance - breads, desserts, cornbread for cornbread stuffing, etc.? Plan when you will cook some of these recipes and write it on your schedule, so you can space them out and avoid last-minute stress.

- If you are having guests, take them up on their offers to bring something!

- For each week during the holidays, plan your menus and make a shopping list. Try to go shopping only once a week to save those time-costly trips back to the grocery store. During such a busy time, try to piggy-back from one meal to another. Cook a roast, and use the leftovers for beef stroganoff, for example. Plan simple regular meals during the holiday season to reduce your stress level.

- Have some easy-to-prepare foods on hand if you have a disaster day: frozen ravioli, ingredients for wraps, and frozen chicken tenderloins, for example.

- Have some ideas in mind for using leftover turkey: chow mein, stir fry, pasta salads, etc. Use leftover ham in soups or pasta salads. Freeze extra turkey or ham in meal-size portions for a time when you are not weary of these meats.

Even though it takes time to plan your holiday meals and your regular meals, you’ll save yourself time and stress by organizing your menus. You won’t be making last-minute trips to the grocery store, you won’t forget ingredients, and you’ll have what you need.

You’ll be able to welcome your guests or have a special meal for your family without stressing! What a refreshing way to celebrate!

What are your favorite holiday recipes?

Leftover ideas:

Dinner in 10 - Chicken with Cranberry/Mandarin Sauce
Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice

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