Kitchen Hacks to Follow for Christmas Meals Prepping
So you’re planning to host your very first Christmas dinner in your new house. If you suddenly realize that you don’t have any idea what to do or how to start, don’t fret. This checklist should bring back your confidence and get you back to planning a memorable Christmas meal:
One of the first things you should do is to plan for your meal. What main dish are you going to cook? A turkey? Steak? BBQ? Are you going to add side dishes to your meal? If so, what are they? List them down so you won’t forget. Include dessert, cheeses, sauce, drinks, bread and other dishes.
Once you see the list, double-check if some items don’t jive. Will your mashed potato go with your beef and mushroom dish? Once you’ve finalized your list, do these next:
- Shop for all ingredients. This is a priority if you’re planning to cook specialty dishes or international cuisine like Indian food and you’ll be hunting for spices or other ingredients not easily found in grocery stores.
- Buy everything that you can store in your pantry about 2 to 3 weeks early.
- Shop for vegetables and other food items that are easier to spoil a day before or early Christmas morning (if you’re going to cook for dinner).
- Get all your tools ready.
If you’re planning to bake your first turkey ever, make sure the turkey you buy fits your oven. Or if you don’t have one yet, check out pricing and reviews of kitchen appliances and ovens so you could get one before the holidays kick in.
If you’re barbecuing, do you have charcoal ready? For those smoking meat, are your wood chips ready?
- Be physically and mentally prepared.
Anytime you cook an entire menu, it can be physically draining. You need to be mentally prepared for this too! Sleep well the night before. Relax, if you can. And begin prepping the dishes only when you’re in the mood. You’d be surprised how easier cooking becomes if you’re happy doing it.
Find make-ahead recipes.
Start early. If you’re baking a MASSIVE turkey, note that you can thaw your turkey in the fridge for several days before the actual Christmas meal. When thawing, allot 1 day for every four pounds of bird.
Aside from the turkey, many people start meal prepping the day before the Christmas meal. Figure out what dishes you can cook or prepare ahead. For example:
- Desserts and cakes that can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Side dishes that you can cook ahead, refrigerate and reheat the next day.
- Ingredients that you can peel, slice or dice a day early.
- Preparing dough for your bread and buns, then freezing them for tomorrow.
You’ll figure this out depending on your menu.
Prioritize what gets oven-baked first.
Are you baking a turkey for Christmas lunch or dinner? Obviously, the biggest and longest dish to cook should always go first.
There’s a reason why the scene where turkeys aren’t cooked in time for holiday meals is a favorite scene on comedy shows and movies. Because it’s very common (many people would surely relate to it).
Don’t make your first-time cooking a turkey become a memorable one for your family because they weren’t able to taste it! It’s better to cook it early and reheat it when it’s dinner time, than to cook late and ask your guests to eat late.
Make meal prepping and cooking a family tradition.
You don’t have to shoulder the entire meal prep (unless you want to and that makes you happy). If you have kids, siblings, friends and other family members who are just lazying around waiting for food, go make them help.
- Assign vegetable peelers to kids. If the kids in your household are big enough to handle peelers, get them to help out. You’ll be surprised at how fun they turn this activity to.
- Teach your teenager the perfect way to make gravy. Everyone should know how to make homemade gravy. If your teens don’t know yet, maybe it’s time to share the family’s secret gravy recipe. Make it a teachable moment and a memory your teen will cherish when they grow up.
- Bread station. If you’re preparing homemade garlic bread, teach someone how to thaw your dough, mold them to the desired shape and size, bake, slice, and garnish with buttered garlic and herbs.
Don’t panic... Troubleshoot it!
Hosting holiday meals can be intense. Many people get so stressed out with the planning, shopping, prepping and cooking.
Know that in cooking and baking, mistakes are bound to happen. The good news is a quick Google search can help you with your dilemma.
- Top of your turkey browning quickly?
- Gravy not thickening?
- Mashed potato turned green?
Use technology to your advantage if you’re having problems with your dishes. Don’t panic; almost everything can be fixed these days.