Menu Planning Basics
Besides personal taste, family favorites and tradition, there are a few basics and time-saving tips to keep in mind when planning your holiday menu:
- Copy your menu plan (also noting where recipes can be found) and post it on the refrigerator where you can check and double check that all dishes are made and served.
- On your menu plan, write which equipment and serving pieces you’ll be using.
- Get larger, seasonal serving dishes out of storage, wash and set aside. You can even put a note inside each dish that reminds you what you’re going to serve in it. Check off all the items on your menu, so that you don’t end up at the last minute without a serving dish ready.
- Wash and press table linens ahead of time.
- Plan a menu with different colors, textures, flavors and temperatures. Think about how dishes will look next to each other on the plate and how they’ll taste together.
- If you’re seating at the table, you may want to serve food from a sideboard to avoid a cluttered table.
- Add a few simple garnishes to your dishes for that special touch.
- Plan your oven space and temperature settings carefully when you’re choosing your menu. Decide which dishes can be cooked ahead of time and reheated before serving and what can be prepped in advance and popped in the oven before dinner.
- Expand your cooking spaces by using a slow cooker, electric griddle or microwave. Consider using the outdoor grill to roast the turkey or set it on low to warm some dishes.
- Plan ahead for enough refrigerator and freezer space. Holiday meals are easier if you can make some of the dishes ahead and store them.
- Stock up on plenty of self-sealing plastic bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
- Purchase inexpensive plastic storage containers or take-out containers from restaurant-supply stores and send guests home with enough leftovers for a late-night turkey sandwich.