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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Melissa C. from Blog Content Guild Guest Post

Making a holiday grocery list for success

The holidays are here, which means it’s time to be happy and scared. The scary part doesn’t come from the holidays themselves, but the organizational nightmare that can overshadow the fun you’re supposed to be having. We’ve all been there, whether it’s forgetting a grocery list or bringing the wrong dish to a friend’s party. If you follow a few simple rules, you won’t have to obsess about getting everything right this holiday season.

Get organized
Organization is the first step to any successful holiday food plan. If you’re anything like the typical at-home chef, you’re going to be making many different dishes for many different occasions. Keeping it all straight is vital, but sometimes it can seem impossible.  You can never be too organized, so think about it early, and you’ll have a better chance of keeping everything straight this year. If you’re a fan of digital services and tools, you could use this task manager to keep yourself on track. Input the stuff you need to do — remember to bake that pie for Mom’s Thanksgiving! And it will give you a nice friendly reminder so you don’t forget. If digital isn’t your thing, there are thousands of options for monthly planners, so you can take note of everything with pen and paper. Interactive or not, it’s important to have a system in place, so you have a backup if your memory lets you down temporarily.

Separation is good

When you’re cooking, separation usually isn’t a good thing. It can mean that your preparation was just off, and your dish isn’t going to come out like you wanted. When it comes to keeping sane during the holidays, however, separation is definitely a good thing. Think about your groceries, for example. It’s easy to mix in the stuff you bought for holiday recipes in with the “normal” food that you’ll be eating when leftovers aren’t on the menu. Sometimes, it can seem like there isn’t enough space to store everything. So, use this holiday season as an inspiration to reorganize your pantry so you don’t get mixed up. You’ll benefit from the change all year long, especially if your current system is more haphazard than clean and organized.
Take some time for yourself

This last tip won’t make your cooking techniques any better or broaden your palate, but it will make things much easier on you and the loved ones around you. Everyone needs a little bit of time to relax, and cooks like us are no different. Pick at least a day or two during these busy months, and make it just for you. Read a book (if you need a suggestion, check out “Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs” for a good laugh), watch a movie, or go for a relaxing walk. If you’re calm, your gatherings and food will be that much better.
Happy holidays!
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