picture from: butterwithasideofbread.com
The holidays can get so busy. How in the world do you manage it all? Well it is important to make your life as easy as possible in the kitchen. You can do this by preparing weeks and days in advance. Here are some ways in which you can stay on top of the holiday meal busyness. These techniques can keep you worry free so that your family enjoys a wonderful meal.
Set A Budget
Food can get expensive but not if you plan ahead. Set a realistic budget. If there are only 3 people in your home then you don’t need a lot of money like you would if you were trying to feed a family of ten or fifteen. Are you the only one funding this holiday meal? Or are other family members chipping in. These are all things to consider when planning your holiday meal budget. If your budget is tight you might not be able to have the turkey, steak, shrimp, ham, and chicken but if you plan then you could at least have the shrimp and chicken and those are still awesome meats. Set a budget and shop accordingly.
Make A List
We’ve all heard about how important a list it and it is essential during the holidays. Plan your menu and decide what you are going to cook for your family. Once you have a menu selected write down all of the ingredients that is required for each recipe. Be sure to check your cabinets because you might already have some of the items in which you need. However, check the expiration date to make sure that everything is still fresh to use and consume. Take this list that you created with you when you go to the grocery store. This will help you stay on track and you will be 100% sure that you have all of the food you need.
It is important to defrost your food safely especially when it comes to meats. There are a few ways in which you can thaw your meats. One is the refrigerator method. Simply place the meat in the fridge to let it thaw. This can take a while but it will serve you in regards to the holidays. For meats that are larger like a turkey takes about 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of meat to completely thaw in the refrigerator so plan your cooking and scheduling time accordingly. Another method that can be used to thaw food is utilizing cold water. Make sure that the meat is bagged and submerge it in a cold tap water bath. You will need to change the water every 30 minutes. Never use hot water as it can cause the outside of the meat to cook. This method is quicker than using the refrigerator. One final way to thaw the meat is to use the defrost button on your microwave. Make sure none of it cooks as it defrosts so be sure to check it often. As the meat defrosts, separate it.
Everyone wants a good seasoned meat and there are a ton of marinades out there. Have you ever went to someone’s house and said, “oh my gosh what marinade did you use this meat is wonderful?” Only to find out that you use the same one but yours doesn’t taste like theirs? One reason might be because you didn’t use the same method. We are going to get it right this time. When it comes to marinating a meat the longer it sits, the better. Pour your marinade over your meat, cover it, and refrigerate it for about 8 hours. Once the time is up take it out and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to knock the chill off then proceed with cooking it.
If you have a lot of things that need to be chopped such as vegetables, fruits, and meats you can chop many of these things in advanced and refrigerate them until you are ready to use them. You should have a good chef knife. This knife can be purchased anywhere from Target to Williams and Sonoma. It can be used to slice, dice, and chop. Another way to chop things is to use a food processor. If you are working with something that can cause eye weeping like onions and garlic then its best to put those in a food processor and let it do all the work.
We all can save some money and although we may not be coupon war experts we can most definitely take a coupon to the store and snag ourselves a discount. If you have never couponed before then there are few ways you can get involved if you are a beginner.
You have to know where to look. The Sunday newspaper is a great place to find hundreds of coupons for things you but every day. Another place to look is online. You can click in the name of the brand you are looking for and many times there will be coupons for the product on the company’s website or on a popular blogger’s site. Don’t skip over those coupons in your favorite magazines. Many magazines have coupons for the products that we love. Last but not least, when you walk into the grocery store they often times have leaflets with information telling you what is currently on sale.
Keep your coupons organized. If you want a product and the coupon is going to expire in a week then you might need to head to the store sooner than later to redeem the value. Clip out all the coupons you need and file them on an as needed basis. You can file them by category such as: dairy, meat, produce, and household items.
A good way to double up on your savings is to use a coupon on a sale item in the grocery store. This is the way the true Domestic Divas do it. They grab the paper before walking in the grocery store, find out what is going to be on sale, then find a coupon for it to maximize on the savings. This is getting a true bang for your buck. Start couponing today and it will be something that you never stop doing.