All right, so you were the wise-guy who thought it would be a great idea to have Thanksgiving at your place.
It wasn't until the day before that you realized you only have one oven and four burners on the stove, which is all well and good in a typical situation, but today you have to prepare a total of ten dishes for thirty people. It seems like your distress is beginning to boil over.
Things could go worse. The turkey is only half cooked, you don't have all the ingredients for the mashed potatoes, the cranberry sauce is more like a cranberry juice and you have no idea what to do with all of the green beans. Sound familiar? If you have ever agreed to cook for your friends and family over the holidays, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Stress free Holiday cooking
A giant meal is quite the monumental feat and it can get rather stressful, extremely quick. There are a few things you can do to help relieve most of the stress like taking some time, starting early, planning ahead and scheduling the activities.
Take time for yourself
You realize in a few days your home will be a whirlwind of commotion, conversations and hungry people. It is important to take a few days prior to the event and spend some time alone, soaking in the quiet of your current surroundings. The more people you add to a mix, the higher the stress levels go. Taking a little time to breathe deeply and prepare yourself for what is to come, might just be the little thing you need to keep those stress levels in check.
Start a few days early
Begin prepping a few days early. Many of your chopping and combining tasks can probably take place a day or two before and be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready for them. This will take quite a bit of time off of your day by prepping in advance. Chopping and combining take the majority of time during a cooking spree, so having them done early will free up a little more time to be social while waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven.
It is also helpful to begin cleaning out your refrigerator ahead of time. Nothing is as stressful as leftovers out the Wahoo and nowhere to put them. You will be feasting on leftovers for the next few days and by the time you are done, nothing in the ice box will still be any good, so go ahead and toss just about everything to make more room ahead of time.
Plan your menu
Having an idea of what you are about to cook is probably a good idea since you will need to make enough to feed thirty or so people. Plan out your menu beforehand so you are not stuck running back and forth to the store while food is cooking. The last thing you want to do is burn the turkey because you had to go grab some cranberry sauce. Roll through your shopping list a couple times before you go and double check that you have everything at checkout. Your stress levels will thank you.
Schedule cooking time and arrival of people
Timing is everything in food preparation, so make sure you count back from the time people are set to arrive and let that be the time you start cooking. The last thing you need to stress about is how you are going to keep the turkey warm for the next twelve hours while everything else finishes cooking. Plan what you want finished at certain times and step through the cooking times to know when you should start on that item. Stick to your schedule as best as possible and all of the food should be ready close to the same time.
Holiday meals are not something to take lightly. There is a lot of effort that goes into preparing large amounts of food, but by following some of these simple tips, you will be the life of the party, have time to socialize and make it look like you are a professional. Not only will this impress your friends, it will make cooking a breeze and you will be able to actually hang out instead of hiding in the kitchen.
Cooking: From distress to de-stress
Believe it or not, there are a few things you can do to help take your nerves into de-stress mode. Yes, you still only have an hour before your guests arrive and your turkey still isn't thawed, but no worries; let's take a look at five simple ways to distress in the kitchen.
Deep breath - Take a deep breath and repeat after me: "I will not burn the turkey, again, I will not burn the turkey,again." On a more serious note, taking deep breaths helps to fill the lungs, blood and muscles with oxygen. This oxygen helps to keep you focused and also alert. Believe it or not, deep breaths also give you a boost of confidence, helping to drop-kick your stress levels right out of the kitchen.
Music - Think back to a time when you were having a great day, maybe riding in your car with the windows down, hair blowing in the wind and singing at the top of your lungs. Music has a certain way of lifting spirits and keeping your mind off of everything else. Grab a radio and crank up your favorite tunes while you are cooking, who knows, maybe you will even enjoy your chaotic experience with some tunes to do life by.
Chop something - No, seriously. Grab your biggest knife and go to town on some produce. It will make you feel like a million bucks as you show that carrot who is boss. Just make sure you don't choose an onion, otherwise your eyes and nose will hate you forever.
Open a window - Vitamin D does wonders for moods. If you are stressed out, step outside for a bit and grab some rays. If you have the option to open a window and get some sun, do it. Bask in it for a few minutes, possibly taking some deep breaths (just not around the onion you just brutalized).
Have fun - That's right. Moon-walk in your socks on the tile; try to carve a face into a lime; heck, put on an apron and pretend you are Julia Child. Have fun. Goofing off and being a free spirit will always lower the stress levels.
See, you don't have to worry about anything. Just follow these five simple tips and you will be stress-free in no time. Just make sure you stop moon-walking and yelling at the turkey before your guests arrive. This article cannot be held accountable for any strange looks or awkward moments between friends. Get in the kitchen and have some fun preparing food for your closest friends and family; everything will be ok.