Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday—I love the meaning behind it, and well, the food is delicious! But, being married to a guy with a catering background has many advantages. Aside from the fantastic dinners he prepares, he is an artist when it comes to orchestrating stress-proof party planning. It doesn’t faze him one bit if he has to prepare a meal for fifty—that’s a piece of pie to him! So, sure, I glean what I can from him to share with my favorite blog readers, because who needs to worry this time of year, right? It should be filled with fun and giving thanks, not a stress mess … and oh by the way, did I mention I was thankful that you’re reading this?
So here are five tips tostress-proof Thanksgiving food preparations:
1. Shop with a Game Plan
While your holidays may always include “staple” foods (i.e. turkey, stuffing, potatoes), get a game plan together before you hit the crowded supermarkets! First off, plan your recipes before you go food shopping. Then, make a food shopping list template with sections/aisles of the food store: Dairy, Produce, Deli, Spices, etc. Plug the ingredients you need from your recipes right into the area of the food store; this will make food shopping super simple and efficient!
2. Organize Your Ingredients
To make holiday cooking a whole lot less stressful, organize your ingredients as you unpack them so you know exactly where to find everything you need for the big day. You may even want to label them, so when you’re cooking, it’s 1-2-3! You can use Tupperware to put things together in “mini bins” in your refrigerator and cabinets, and then identify with a label-maker or sticky note!
3. Make One Dish a Star
Instead of trying to create bean casseroles, sweet potato pie, three kinds of stuffing, make one dish a star and keep the others simple, yet delicious! Pick the “star” dish first—this one can be more extravagant or have some meaning (like your grandmother’s famous chestnut stuffing), and for the rest of the side-dishes, just keep them basic but spice them up with 1 additional ingredient (carrots topped with mint, ginger, or thyme).
4. Try a Semi-Homemade Approach
Ok, so maybe cooking isn’t your forte, and it causes you a lot of stress. That’s fine! You can pull off a “Semi-Homemade” holiday, stay within budget, and save yourself time and stress. Places like Boston Market will make a tray of plain sweet or mashed potatoes. Add your special touch by topping with spices, mixing in one or two ingredients, and voila! Gourmet!
5. Clean as You Go
When you’re cooking, you don’t want to end up with a disaster area to clean up before your guests arrive. Keep it clean as you go, and if you have family or friends to help—make it their job to follow you with a sponge, broom, or mop! Your meal will be done and your kitchen will sparkle—not to mention it can be a fun time when everyone works together!
Bonus Tip for a Budget Friendly Day
Make it a Pot Luck
Often guests will ask the you (as the hostess) what to bring, but you may feel funny taking them up on the offer, and tell them to bring whatever they wish! So you end up with twelve desserts and a sink full of dishes because you’ve done all the real cooking! This year to save yourself stress, time, and money, why not make it a potluck? Ask each guest to bring a side dish, so you can focus on cooking a gorgeous turkey, setting the table, and getting your home ready to entertain!
Bonus Tip for a Great Party
Practice Happiness at Home for the Month of November (and you’ll love it so much, you’ll just want to live that way)!
Yes, while it is the busiest time of the year for many women, it can lead to a lot of stress at home. But, all that tension creates a thick wall of negative energy that your guests can see and feel as soon as they enter! You can’t “cover up” tension, so instead, make it a point to be happy in your home every day—authentically happy! Release the tension, communicate well with your family, and everyone who enters your home will be at ease and feel the happiness, too!