31 Days to a Stress-Free Holiday : Food Prep

Making the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal can seem like a huge undertaking. A little planning ahead and spreading tasks out over several days can really help keep stress to a minimum and you can avoid over booking your oven.

I’ve out together a little countdown full of tips to assist you with your own planning. I hope it is helpful, and let me know if you have any questions!

Do most of your shopping by one week before hand (aside from anything that will spoil before the day, like fresh produce). Get your final head count so that you can be sure to have enough food for everyone. As for the size of the turkey, plan about 1 pound per person. This will also leave you plenty for leftovers (hooray for not cooking after Thanksgiving!).

Make any freezer-friendly sides, roll, and desserts that you can just warm up in the oven on the day of. Be sure to store in an airtight container. This can actually be done up to three months in advance.

Put your frozen turkey into the refrigerator breast side down to start thawing. Allow about a day of thawing for every 4 pounds (so you may need to start this earlier if you have a gargantuan bird). Set it in a pan or on top of paper towels in case there is any drippage. That is not a fun mess to have to clean up. Toast any nuts that you are planning to use in the salad or desserts.

Shop for any other ingredients you need, like your fresh produce. Make your cranberry sauce and any dressings or dips. Cover those items and stick in the fridge.

Start chopping ingredients, like celery, carrots, and onions, that are needed for different dishes. Measure the correct amount for each recipe and put them in separate ziplock bags. Label each bag with the amount and which dish it is for. Move dishes that were made in advance from the freezer to fridge to thaw. Put together any other side dishes that can be refrigerated until the day of.

Finish making any pies or desserts that couldn’t be made ahead of time. Pull out platters, serving dishes and utensils. Set them out where they will need to be for the meal and mark what each of them are for. Write out a plan for the day. Make an oven schedule for any remaining items that need to be made. Allow for extra time.

Stuff and roast the turkey. Prep the sale and dressings. Start any stove-top vegetables, like potatoes or corn. When the turkey is fully cooked, cover with foil and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. While the turkey is sitting, bake or reheat and side dishes and rolls. Delegate any duties you need help with. Don’t worry about everything being perfect! Enjoy the time with your family and friends and think about all you have the be thankful for!

How do you serve your holiday meals? Do you opt for buffet style or a more formal way of serving?

I hope you all have a great day!