Tips for Make Ahead Holiday Meals

The following post is from Jessica of GoodCheapEats and LifeasMOM:

source: Good Cheap Eats

There are so many things to do at the holidays — the gifts, the decorations, the parties, the food. And the month can easily get away from us, leaving us disappointed that we might not have enjoyed the moment as much as we would have liked.

Often we squeeze just too many things into those last few days before Christmas or New Year’s. Wouldn’t be nice to just stretch time to fit our list of things to do?

source: Good Cheap Eats

Well, you can if you practice some cook ahead techniques.

Make a Mix

I love to prepare my own baking mixes. About once a month I line up several ziptop bags and assembly-line style, prepare the “dry team” of many of my baked goods. It doesn’t take very long and in about 20 minutes I have an assortment of mixes for homemade brownies, pancakes, waffles, muffins, biscuits, and cornbread.

By doing so, I’ve significantly reduced the time it will take to whip up fresh baked goods in just a few minutes. Just make sure to label each bag clearly with the recipe name, baking instructions, and what still needs to be added.

Just think about the fresh baked waffles that you’ll be able to mix up quickly on Christmas morning without even having to make the coffee first!

source: Good Cheap Eats

Freeze It

I love my freezer. I don’t know what I would do if it broke down on me. Cry, most likely. The freezer allows me to cook when I have time and still serve my family homecooked meals when I don’t have time.

You would be amazed at all the dishes that you can make and freeze ahead of time. And the holiday season is a perfect time to put “make and freeze” into practice.

  • Hosting a big turkey dinner? Stuffing, mashed potatoes, and even turkey can all be prepped ahead! Cool completely, wrap well, and freeze.
  • Casseroles make a great, cozy supper over the holidays. Enchiladas, lasagnas, and noodle casseroles are easy to make and reheat super well after being frozen.
  • Consider a huge Mexican buffet. Tamales are known to be extremely Christmas-y as well as freezer friendly. Homecooked beans, shredded chicken, and carnitas all freeze well. Set out fresh tortillas, chips, salsas, and other fresh toppings for an easy and delicious meal.
  • Want to present a variety of Christmas cookies? Bake and freeze all you want! Store the cookies in airtight containers in the freezer until about an hour before you are ready to serve.
  • Hosting a big Christmas or New Year’s breakfast or brunch? Be sure to read these tips from Simple Bites for a great make-ahead and freeze breakfast.

Create a Timeline

Most important to pulling of a successful meal is timing. A pre-made feast doesn’t help you any if it’s rock hard frozen in the freezer come dinnertime.

Print out a Holiday Dinner Timeline sheet and walk backward through your dinner. List all the courses to your meal, and make sure you know when each thing needs to be thawed, reheated and served. For more help, read this explanation of how a timeline can help your holiday dinner.

By planning ahead, you’ll have everything on the table at the same time – a home cook’s dream come true!

Don’t let checking off your to-do list get in the way of good times or good eating. Many of the things that you love to eat at the holidays can easily be made ahead of time.

With a little careful planning, you’ll be feasting as well as enjoying time with family and friends.

What do you do to make your Christmas meal prep easier?

A gourmand at heart, Jessica Fisher has learned to reconcile a tight budget with her love for great food. As a busy mom of six voracious eaters, she regularly shares healthy, delicious and budget-friendly recipes at GoodCheapEats. She also writes at her parenting blog, LifeasMOM.