The past few years I’ve hosted most major holidays at our house and while I wont trade that for anything it can be stressful. Over time I have come up with a few crazy-saving strategies to make cooking for a crowd much easier. I know not everyone can get together for the holidays but these strategies have worked for big parties as well. It seems like a lot of work, but you know, planner Rachael here 🙂 .
- Make a plan. What are people going to eat, drink and snack on. Print out any recipes you found online so you don’t have to worry about finding the recipe again when your ready to cook.
- Look at your food plan and ask yourself “do we really need this much food”. There are so many creative food ideas out there its tempting to make them all. Just keep in mind how many people are coming over and how much those people eat. Leftover food is great but there is such a thing as too many leftovers.
- Make a grocery list. I write down every grocery item I need to make the recipes then cross off what I already have on hand. Make sure you only cross it off if you have enough in quantity for the recipe and wont be using any of said ingredient in the meantime. Whatever you don’t cross off get at the grocery store. I space my grocery trips out over a few weeks. First trip is goods that wont go bad (paper goods, frozen meats, canned goods etc), next trip is things that go bad but over a longer span of time (think milk and cheese) the last trip is things like fruits and vegetables. This also helps space out the cost as well.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I have my family bring 1 or 2 things from my list of food items so I don’t have to make EVERYTHING. Doing everything yourself is really stressful and I have a family that loves to pitch in so I definitely take advantage of that.
- Make a schedule. The week of Christmas I start prepping food. Some days its as simple as putting the ham in the fridge to defrost and other days its prepping a few dishes. It will depend on what you want to make but some dishes can be made up to a 3 days in advance! Don’t cook everything day of if you can help it.
- Make a schedule part 2! Day of you will probably have a few things that need to go in the oven. I like to write down baking times and temps and use those oven racks to my advantage. It usually isn’t realistic to have everything done at the exact same time but using a cooking schedule can get you pretty close.
- Prep, prep, prep! I like to set the table the day before. That way I know if I have enough clean dishes and silverware. I also get out any serving dishes I need, make sure the dishwasher and trash are empty. Morning of I get a drink station ready with ice water, cups, and any other drink we are serving. Nice and organized so Im not scrambling to get everything done when guests arrive.
- Homemade is always better but if you are stressed for time a lot of food items can be catered or purchased from the grocery store. Now you wont see catered or store bought food at my holiday gatherings but I’ve had 7 years of practice…and I love making things from scratch. I know that’s not the case with everyone but in my opinion a from-scratch holiday meal is love.
- Sit back, have a glass of wine and let the compliments of how good the food tastes roll in!
CHIME IN!!! Do you host major holidays or parties? What are your time saving tips? Homemade or store-bought?