Are you planning on doing some heavy cooking this Christmas? Maybe you’re hosting the annual family dinner, or you have a party planned for all of your friends. Whether you’re baking goodies to give people on your list or you’ve got out of town guests coming, you don’t need to be stressed out by the extra Christmas cooking this year. Follow these tips to make the cooking less stressful and perhaps even enjoy it a little.
Early Planning Reduces Stress
Cooking is fun when you have what you need at your fingertips, but it’s a nightmare when you’re constantly making trips to the store. Sit down a few weeks in advance and outline your menu and shopping list. Buy the supplies ahead of time to avoid running short when you’re actually cooking. This can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the process, so make sure you start this part well in advance.
Make Space for the Supplies
When you come home with boxes and bags of goodies for baking, you need somewhere to put everything. Take time to clean out the refrigerator and cabinets. In addition to needing room for the raw supplies, you’re also going to need space for the foods that are in progress and leftovers.
Go With Past Successes
There are so many great recipes out there, and it’s tempting to show off your culinary skills by trying something new. However, this is not the time to get ambitious. You don’t want to try something new only to discover that it’s more time-consuming than you expected or no one in the family likes it. If you have a dish you really want to try for your annual cookie trays, the neighborhood exchange or the family dinner, then do a practice run a few days before. Then you can decide whether it’s worthy of your event.
Cook Ahead When Possible
You want the food to be fresh, but you’ll also be surprised at how much you can do in advance. Pies, cakes and cookie doughs can be made up and frozen ahead of time. Many recipes will even state if they freeze well and if there are steps that can be done a day or two in advance. The more you do ahead of time, they less you’ll have to worry and stress over when it’s the day of your party or dinner.
Delegate and Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to delegate and get help for the work. While you may not trust anyone else to whisk the fudge on the stovetop, you can have the kids take out the trash, set butter on the counter to soften and wash some dishes. Get your family involved with peeling vegetables, tidying the kitchen and handing you supplies. If they’re interested, you can also start teaching them how to cook your favorite dishes so they can start helping you more in the future. If you’re cooking with company there, you may find that they want to assist in the kitchen. You can all chat and visit while you’re working on the meal, and that makes the entire gathering more enjoyable.
There are several ways to make your holiday cooking less stressful. Don’t try to do everything in one day or approach this without a written plan, menu and shopping list. When you take the time to prepare in advance and do what you can ahead of time, then the main cooking day will go smoother and be less stressful.