Chefs Tips to Organize Your Holiday Meals and Parties
Planning your holiday meals in the midst of a pandemic may create a bigger challenge than in years past. The list below is a road map for any meal but even more important now so that you can spend more time with family and friends. Hopefully since everyone has been home for so many months you have had the time to a create a well-stocked pantry, freezer and fridge (see tips on stocking your fridge and pantry here), so crafting your menu and supplementing with the holiday extras should be a breeze. Don’t forget, I am here to help. The holiday sides menu will go out in 2 weeks, so if all the cooking and planning isn’t for this year, I have you covered!
- PLAN YOUR MENU AND GUEST LIST: Now you can create your grocery list including flowers and beverages.
- PREP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK: Make sure your fridge is completely cleaned out. When you bring home all your fresh produce take the time to clean, prep and label. I can’t emphasize this enough, if you are using an item for several dishes, prep it once. Items like potatoes, celery and carrots can be prepped up to a week in advance and stored in water. Stage an area for silverware, glasses, dishes, linens, slow cookers and warming units.
- HOLIDAY MEAL COOKING SCHEDULE: Working backwards, figure out what dishes can be made several days in advance, then either place in the freezer or the fridge depending on their shelf life. If storage is a challenge I use coolers to store vegetables and condiments. When I cater big events, I use large trash bags filled with big bags of ice and then place my platters and salads on top.
- OUTSOURCE: Delegating labor-intensive items like desert, appetizers and especially the turkey not only frees up space but gives you the time to prepare your signature dishes. *Never was there a better time to support your local restaurants. Many of them offer complete meals as do places like Whole Foods, Fresh Market even Bojangles.
- TURN YOUR HOME INTO A RESTAURANT: Set up stations for carving, beverages, deserts, appetizers and sides. Or carve the turkey at the table then pass. Place bread baskets at both ends of the table to complete the meal.
- HAVE CONTAINERS ON HAND FOR FOLKS TO TAKE HOME LEFTOVERS: If you want to take it up a notch from Ziplocs and plastic containers, check out these cute holiday containers or craft your own to go containers. This a perfect opportunity to package a holiday meal for friends and folks that can’t be with you or that are housebound.
- KEEPING SIDES WARM: This can be a challenge for many. We have found utilizing your grill is a great option for extra help when stove tops and ovens are full, but here is a link for other ideas.