The turkey is only half cooked, you don’t have all the ingredients for the mashed potatoes, the cranberry sauce is more like a cranberry juice and you have no idea what to do with all of the green beans. Sound familiar? If you have ever agreed to cook for your friends and family over the holidays, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Preparing a giant meal is quite the monumental feat and it can get rather stressful – very quickly. There are a few things you can do to help relieve most of the stress like taking some time, starting early, planning ahead and scheduling the activities.
Take time for yourself
You realize in a few days your home will be a whirlwind of commotion, conversations and hungry people. It is important to take a few days prior to the event and spend some time alone, soaking in the quiet of your current surroundings. The more people you add to a mix, the higher the stress levels go. Taking a little time to breathe deeply and prepare yourself for what is to come, might just be the little thing you need to keep those stress levels in check.
Start a few days early
Begin prepping a few days early. Many of your chopping and combining tasks can probably take place a day or two before and be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready for them. This will take quite a bit of time off of your day by prepping in advance. Chopping and combining take the majority of time during a cooking spree, so having them done early will free up a little more time to be social while waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven.
It is also helpful to begin cleaning out your refrigerator ahead of time. Nothing is as stressful as leftovers out the Wahoo and nowhere to put them. You will be feasting on leftovers for the next few days and by the time you are done, nothing in the ice box will still be any good, so go ahead and toss just about everything to make more room ahead of time.
Plan your menu
Having an idea of what you are about to cook is probably a good idea since you will need to make enough to feed thirty or so people. Plan out your menu beforehand so you are not stuck running back and forth to the store while food is cooking. The last thing you want to do is burn the turkey because you had to go grab some cranberry sauce. Roll through your shopping list a couple times before you go and double check that you have everything at checkout. Your stress levels will thank you.
Schedule cooking time and arrival of people
Make sure you count back from the time people are set to arrive and let that be the time you start cooking. The last thing you need to stress about is how you are going to keep the turkey warm for the next twelve hours while everything else finishes cooking. Plan what you want finished at certain times and step through the cooking times to know when you should start on that item. Stick to your schedule as best as possible and all of the food should be ready close to the same time.
Holiday meals are not something to take lightly. There is a lot of effort that goes into preparing large amounts of food, but by following some of these simple tips, you will be the life of the party, have time to socialize and make it look like you are a professional. Not only will this impress your friends, it will make cooking a breeze and you will be able to actually hang out instead of hiding in the kitchen.