Every year around this time I start clipping way more recipes than usual. Sadly most go unprepared.
Here is the US we have 30 days until Thanksgiving and a few more than that depending on the other holidays you will be celebrating.
Yesterday I clipped a recipe for serving homemade soup in mini scooped out pumpkins, one for each guest. Although a lovely thought, this is going in my “never going to happen” pile. Who am I kidding, I hardly ever make homemade soup and I have enough trouble scooping out one large pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern!
It can be tempting this time of year to go overboard, to try to impress, to get it perfect, and to be elaborate. But that’s not what this season is all about. In fact, overdoing it takes you away from having the time to spend making new memories with friends and family. And honestly no one is going to remember those weird little soup pumpkins next year.
To keep the stress level to a minimum, for me it is all about doing what I know works, keeping it simple, forgetting perfect and prepping in advance.
If you’d like to join me, here are the 3 things I am doing now to prepare for holiday baking and cooking:
- Pull out those tried and true recipes. The ones that everyone enjoys and the ones that consistently turn out. If you MUST try a new recipe consider giving it a trial run now. Having a recipe fail last minute is less than ideal. Then put the recipes in a safe place – but not so safe that you will forget where you put them.
- Write out TWO shopping lists. Based on the recipes you choose make two grocery shopping lists. One with the non-perishable items that you can begin shopping for now. And one with the perishable items that you’ll pick up last minute.
- Just decide! I’ve spent way too many hours deliberating over recipes. I could make the sweet potatoes as a mash or candied. How about twice baked potatoes, no wait – Hasselback potatoes! Or maybe garlicy green beans, but then there is the green bean casserole. Oh maybe I’ll make the biscuits or a pie – yeah, what about a pie? If you never decide it won’t matter because you won’t make anything. Just pick something and make it!
BONUS tip #1: if you don’t have the time, energy or inclination to make anything then you don’t have to! Simply call in an order to a local restaurant or store and pick up anything from a full meal with all the trimmings to a simple platter of roasted vegetables.
Here’s a quick tip for storing all those pantry items: group the lot of them in a holiday section.
Typically I’d say unpack the groceries and sort them like with like; all the vegies together all the sauces and so on. But in this case the category is HOLIDAY and you won’t want to accidentally use up something you are saving or waste time looking for items in other cabinets. Keep it all together.
Bonus tip #2: Check your storage containers and travel trays now. This is the time to realize you don’t have hot packs to take a warm dish or you need more containers. Be sure you have everything to complete the task, otherwise you’ll have to switch plans last minute or rush out to the store.
What if you are not planning to entertain or be a guest at someone’s table?
The holidays can be stressful but they can also be lonely. You may not feel up to being social or you may not have friends and family nearby. If this is the case you can A. start to look now for a local group that will be gathering so you can join them or invite someone to join you B. you can plan to make something to share like cookies for the firemen in your town C. plan to make your favorite item to enjoy just for you – after all you are worth it or D. Make a reservation!
Whatever you do I hope you will enjoy the holiday season. It goes by so quickly and I don’t want you to miss it while you are searching for recipe you misplaced.