Now's the time, in the calm before the holiday meals begin: clean out the freezer!
Supermarkets will soon offer loss leaders on holiday staples, from pie to whipped topping, dinner rolls to desserts. Tossing expired frozen food--or resolving to eat up freezer dishes that are nearing their expiration point--will create room in the budget and the freezer to stock up on staples for holiday meals.
Make-ahead baked goods and holiday freezer meals need room, too. Clean out the freezer to create a home for holiday goodies to come!
Take A Freezer Inventory
Keep track of freezer contents to stay on-track for happy holidays. A simple freezer inventory form means you'll know at a glance what's hidden in Moby DIck's cold innards. Print one today, to organize your frozen assets:
Thanksgiving morning is no time to discover stains on the tablecloth, unpack tarnished flatware or to recall that last season saw the shattering of your favorite turkey platter. (That darn dog!)
Prepare to set a pretty table with a pre-season tabletop check. Inventory and inspect table linens, napkins, serving pieces, holiday china and serving pieces.
Do you need to purchase replacements? Prices are best several weeks before the season, when housewares stores advertise tabletop goods at sale prices. Add any replacements to the seasonal shopping list.
Will you need to polish silver? Add the chore to the calendar, or delegate to an energetic child in need of spending money.
Launder linens and plan centerpieces and candles for an elegant table without the last-minute stress.
Track your findings on a free inventory planner page:
Attitudes to holiday baking fall into two general categories: you love it, or you hate it. Whether you're dreaming of the Christmas bakefest as early as July, or dreading it as the season approaches, you need a plan.
A written holiday baking plan makes sense--and cents--of holiday baking chores. Knowing what you'll bake, how much you'll bake, and when you'll bake keeps the budget in line, and helps foster a realistic view of that scarcest of holiday commodities: your time.
Finally, if you bake for kitchen gifts, a written plan can track gifts completed, frozen or sent.
There's no panic like the one the morning of Thanksgiving day, when you realize you've forgotten just which cookbook contains the family's favorite sweet potato casserole.
Twenty minutes later, books, notecards and torn magazine pages litter what was a once a clean kitchen counter.
Fight back--and save your sanity--by spending a few minutes organizing holiday recipes before the season arrives. Whether you use a computer software program, tuck magazine pages and index cards inside page protectors, or print out recipes for your Christmas planner, make sure you can find them when they're needed.
November's here, and holiday cooking will soon be in full swing. Do you know how old your spices are?
Fresh, savory seasonings are a must during the holiday season--but in many kitchens, jars and tins of spices languish for years, losing flavor over time.
Check your spice rack for freshness today. Newer products often include a "use by" date as a guideline. Otherwise, open each jar, and use your eyes and nose! A spice that has caked, changed color or lost it's smell should be replaced.
No "use by" dates on your containers? Try these general rules:
Ground spices: 2-3 years
Whole spices: 3-4 years
Blends: 1-2 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Extracts: 4 years (excepting vanilla, which keeps indefinitely)