Tips for Easier (Holiday) Meal Preparation November 2021

Even though most people look forward to the feasting that takes place during the holidays, some home cooks can become stressed out with all the extra food and meal preparations. 
Here are some hints and tips to make cooking easier–any time of the year:
·       Photocopy recipes and then compile a grocery shopping list.
·       Sheets of paper are easier to use instead of open cookbooks
·       Go over copied recipes and prepare grocery lists
·       Create grocery lists with categories (eg: produce, baking, deli, meat, etc.)–easier to shop this way 
·       Recycle paper afterward
·       Shop at grocery stores during off-hours if possible.     
·       Invest in professional knives-this will make food preparation a snap!
·       You really only need 3 knives:
·       chef’s knife 
·       paring knife  
·       bread knife 
·       Keep the knives sharp-either with knife sharper like a ChefsChoice or have them professionally sharpened  
·       DO NOT put the knives in the dishwasher-it ruins them
·       Use the steel, if you have one, before putting them away (drag the knife at a 45 degree angle across the steel on both sides several times). This step DOES NOT sharpen the knives, but maintains them.    
·       Employ mise en place (MEEZ-ahn-plass)-the French culinary method of having all your ingredients prepped and ready to use before starting to cook.chopping, mincing, dicing all ingredients in advance
·       measuring all your ingredients before beginning the actual cooking. (You may even sit down at the kitchen table to cut and dice)
·       put measured and chopped ingredients into separate bowls, like the Sleekstor Pinch&Pour bowls  
·       Chop herbs like a pro.
·       Use professional chef’s knife
·       Pluck the herbs from their sprigs by drawing the leaves backwards from the stem
·       Gather up the herbs in a pile on a cutting board.
·       Put knife across pile with dominant hand holding the knife’s handle
·       Place other hand, with open palm down, across the top dull side of the blade for weight and guidance.
·       With dominant hand, lift handle in a rapid, up-down motion while moving handle in a clockwise direction around the pile.
·       Scrape and gather up the herbs to make a new pile and repeat process.
·       Consider using pre-chopped staples to make food prep quicker.
·       Jarred minced garlic (eg Trader Joe’s)
·       Pre-cut squash (available at most produce sections)
·       Prepared chicken, beef or veggie broth (eg Trader Joe’s organic brand)
·       Use wax paper and parchment paper for easy clean up.
·       Line all roasting pans and (some) cookie sheets with parchment; discard after cooking
·       Use wax paper to capture peelings as you peels veggies and fruits
·       Save take-out containers for leftovers for you and/or your guests after holiday meals. Or have lots of Tupperware-style containers on hand to save all those yummy leftovers. 
·       Relax and remember it’s about enjoying peoples’ company and everything does not have to be perfect.