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Plan Your Holiday Menus: 6 Easy Steps

Plan Your Holiday Menus: 6 Easy Steps
holiday french toast casserole

Make Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day deliciously relaxing with this practical guide. We’ve got six easy steps to plan your holiday menus. Organize recipes, fill that cookie jar and, most importantly, still have time to enjoy your family.

Six Steps to Plan Your Holiday Menus

1 List Your Feasts. Make a list of the key meals and special treats you want to prepare. This could include a few feasts (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day), holiday breakfasts, and snacks for movie nights or football games. Finally, don’t forget those extra-special cookies or candies the family looks forward to year after year. Now’s the time to list the number of eaters you expect to partake of each meal, too. Small family groups are most likely this year, of course. Still, you may want to make extra entrees to drop off for elderly relatives or a few dozen cookies to mail to far away loved ones. Finally, ask yourself if you want to make something to donate to frontline workers or folks in need in your community.

2 Choose Your Vibe. For at-home meals, are you in the mood for dressing up and formal festivities? Or does December 2020 have you in need of calm? If you’re in sparkle mode, choose place cards, metallic decorations and a big main course. If it’s solace you seek, opt for cozy, homespun décor and a self-serve buffet.

3 Collect & Organize Recipes. With your feast list and chosen vibe decided, it’s time to choose your recipes. Start with main courses and traditional recipes you know you want to serve. Then, move to side dishes. Have a few new recipes you’d like to try? Consider preparing a test batch or version so you’ll have confidence in the outcome. Once you’ve got a collection of recipe, sort and organize so that each menu has a balance of colors, flavors, textures and levels of preparation difficulty. Last but not least, make sure you have recipes for those leftovers. Casseroles are great ways to finish off ingredients. Superb sandwiches can be made from the last of the roast.

4 Stock the Pantry & Order Key Ingredients. Ensure you have all the essentials for holiday cooking and baking on hand. Stock up on basics, such as olive oil, broth, rice, pasta, flour, sugar and cocoa powder. Then, secure those holiday extras, such as fancy jams and chutneys, nuts, frozen cranberries and cookie-decorating sugars. Next, make sure you’ve got key herbs, spices and flavorings, such as cinnamon, chili flakes, garlic powder, oregano and vanilla. Finally, pre-order those star items, such as a rib roast, ham, turkey or fancy Buche de Noel or other bakery-made delights.

5 Scope Out Your Storage. Plan which dishes you’ll use to cook, serve and store leftovers. (Tip: Attach sticky notes labeled with uses to your dishes in advance to avoid confusion, especially when there are extra cooks in the kitchen.) And don’t forget to make sure you have boxes or tins for delivering treats and meals to others.

6 Bake & Prep Early. Cookies (and cookie doughs) can be made and frozen even weeks ahead. (Check recipes for details.) Encouraging family members to plan ahead and pitch in can relieve stress, too. Plan what you can schedule to do in the days and hours before major cooking projects, such as pre-measuring recipe components, prepping meats and vegetables, and laying out cookware and kitchen tools. This will leave you with more time to enjoy your company – even while you cook!

couple baking cookies

The new year is coming soon. Consider starting a journal to welcome 2021. Your first writing assignment: How you celebrated the holidays this one-of-a-kind year.

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