Did you always bring dessert to the holiday gathering? Maybe you are not used to preparing a full meal, but this year may be different. Enjoy the holidays with a new twist. If you are cooking a full meal for the first time – You can do it!
Usually, our holiday meals are a group effort with each family contributing a dish or two. It has been a long- standing tradition of combining families and personalities and recipes—a beautiful mix! All that can change this year. Large indoor gatherings are discouraged. How can you go from a single dish for 30 to an entire meal for 6? Plan and strategize and pull this dinner off without a fuss. Have fun cooking with members of your household and enjoy the leftovers (or planned overs).
Here are some practical tips to help you navigate the holiday meal prep:
- Make a to do list!
- Have your family help with the menu—is there one special traditional dish that is a must have?
- Have everyone work together to make this special recipe
- Share recipes with extended family members ahead of time so you all can enjoy your favorite dishes
- Make what your family likes—just because Aunt Sally makes stuffing with giblets, doesn’t mean you have to
- Enlist the help of the whole family! Record the game—watch it later after dinner!
- Enjoy the time together, holidays are usually such a whirlwind of worry and work—relax, enjoy the less harried atmosphere, connect with your children, tell stories of your family’s Thanksgivings from the past….
- Share your meal with a neighbor or someone without family (portion the meal and deliver it)
- Relax the timetable: sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast and enjoy a late afternoon holiday meal
- Reduce the number of dishes
- 2 veggies/1 fruit
- 2 desserts (small)
- Bake a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey (bone in gives better flavor broth)
- Thaw the turkey in the fridge (24 hours for every 5 pounds)
- Think about oven space—you can cook the turkey the day before, slice and refrigerate and heat in the microwave
- You can purchase an oven ready or even a pre-cooked turkey
- There is no law against a dessert, cranberry sauce or bread product purchased from the store
- Or make this easy cranberry recipe
- Do as much pre-prep as possible
- Cook ahead and reheat when possible. Make soups, cranberry sauce, even mashed potatoes 2-3 days ahead and refrigerate. Bake pies or buy your favorite. Assemble casseroles and refrigerate uncooked; bake on the holiday.
- Chop veggies for dressing or veggie trays a few days before
- Make salads a few days before
- Set the table the day before
- Check out our video for mashed potatoes; What’s Cooking with Mary Liz Wright