Holiday Cooking

38 Days to Christmas! Check Bags And Containers

What's a holiday cook's best friend? Disposable food storage containers--and their convenient cousins, zipper food storage bags.

In the holiday kitchen, disposable containers hold baked goods for giving, keep leftovers in order and line up for mise-en-place duty during holiday cooking sessions. Lightweight and inexpensive, they nest neatly and travel well to new homes. Best of all, holiday themes and colors make a simple cookie gift more festive.

Take a moment today to check stocks of food storage containers and zipper bags.

Need more? Add them to the shopping list and be on the lookout for holiday-themed containers at sale prices in coming weeks.

39 Days to Christmas! Stock Up On Freezer Meals

A stockpile of frozen dinners is a seasonal stress-buster during the month of December. This week, add a few ready-to-cook meals to the freezer to prepare for the busy weeks ahead.

Whether you try traditional once-a-month cooking methods, buy premade meals at the warehouse store, or pay a visit to one of the new freezer cooking franchises, setting aside a stock of easy family dinners will cut stress during the Christmas season.

Learn more about freezer cooking:

Feed the Freezer: Complete Freezer Cooking Guide

40 Days to Christmas! Tackle The Freezer

Clean Out The Freezer

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:

Printable Freezer Inventory Form

41 Days to Christmas! Clean Out the Refrigerator

In the weeks to come, the refrigerator will play a starring role in the holiday kitchen--so clear the decks for holiday cooking with a refrigerator clean-out.

Toss expired foods and work the last dribs and drabs of salad dressing, produce or dairy products into the week's meals.

You'll make room for the tastes of the season ahead!

Clean Out The Refrigerator

43 Days to Christmas! Plan Holiday Baking

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.

Rolling pins ready? Time for a baking plan:

Holiday Baking Planner

44 Days to Christmas! Round Up Holiday Recipes

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.

We've got help with a free printable recipe form:

Holiday Recipes

Ready to organize new recipes that catch your eye? List them on this printable inventory:

Recipes to Try

45 Days to Christmas! Check Your Spices

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)

Pages