Simplify Holiday Cooking 

For most of us the holiday season is hectic, stressful, chaotic and wonderful.  We go from one “to do” list to another wondering how we are ever going to get everything accomplished.  With everything that is going on it is likely that you are either super stressed because you are obsessively over organized, or you are going to be super stressed because you forget something.  Here are a few tips that may help you get through the holidays without having a complete nervous breakdown. 

First, adopt the KISS policy.  KISS stands for keep it simple stupid.  It is especially important during the hectic holiday season that you keep the meals you plan to contribute to various events and pot lucks and the meals you plan for your own home simple.  You want to make something that is easy and simple to prepare, takes little time to make and is as inexpensive as possible.  Simple inexpensive meals can be delicious. 

Take the time to get several things off your list at one time period.  Don’t try to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to do tasks.  Instead, set aside a large chunk of time to dedicate to tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and wrapping gifts.  Stick to one thing during its allotted time slot rather than trying to cook, clean, shop and wrap all at the same time.  Doing one thing at a time will save frustration and confusion and will avoid the possibility of something getting burned, forgotten or ruined.  

To save valuable time and money and to avoid impulse buying, plan and shop ahead.  Whether you are shopping for food items or for the perfect gifts for friends or family it pays to have a plan and make a list.  Shopping without a planned list often results in spending more money than intended and getting less value for the money.  You may find that you have completely forgotten to purchase items you need.  Purchase as much stuff as you can early to avoid the last-minute rush at the stores. 

Be sure you have enough room in your fridge for foods you have purchased to prepare the meals. You need space also for storing the foods that you have already prepared and that must be chilled.  If you don’t have space in the fridge for everything that needs to be kept cold, then you need to make some other plans.  Perhaps some items can be kept for a short time in an ice chest. 

In the freezer have a back-up dish that can be substituted if something goes wrong with the more complicated dishes or casseroles you are preparing.  Being able to make a last- minute substitution is better than not having enough food to go around.  During the holidays you never know when something is going to go wrong and it is best to be prepared for the unexpected. Having a back-up dish on hand can also be a life saver if you are running late or are too overwhelmed to prepare a meal. 

If you are planning to serve turkey or ham at your meal make sure they are properly thawed and that you have allotted the necessary time for cooking.  In fact, be sure to add some extra time since you never know what kind of difference you will encounter in actual cooking time required.  Remember the ham and turkey should rest for a few minutes after roasting and before carving. 

You will save lots of frustration, time and trouble if you clean as you go.  No one wants to get up from a wonderful holiday meal and go into a kitchen full of dirty pots, pans and utensils used for the meal preparation.  Pots, pans and dishes are simpler to clean before the food has had time to dry out and set in. 

Following these tips will not guarantee that your holiday meals will be perfect, but they will help you feel less overwhelmed.  You want to make things as simple as possible so you can enjoy the holiday season without being too frustrated, stressed or worn out.