In the past, I learned how to make special dishes for holiday meals. I enjoy preparing these meals, but I don’t like realizing in the middle of cooking that I’ve forgotten a vital ingredient! It’s not fun to have to run out at the last minute to buy something, even when you’re not cooking. It’s a common problem – there’s even a song that mentions it called “Christmas Wrapping”. It’s annoying when it happens, and at times can be problematic. I’ve had instances where I had to stop in the middle of preparing a dish, and it was basically ruined by the time I went out to buy the missing ingredient. The worst is when you realize it after all the stores have closed! To avoid this inconvenience, I first started writing a list, and adding to it as I prepared these meals each year. It was not very organized, and I had to make sure I didn’t lose these little scraps of paper. Then I came up with the idea of putting these lists in Word documents on my computer, and then printing them out. I started with a list of the dishes we like to include for each holiday, and then looked over my recipes to make a master shopping list of ALL of the ingredients for each holiday to make sure I would never run out of anything again! I even separated them into non-perishable, produce, refrigerated, and frozen items. I also left blank spots, so I can add whatever else I need when I do my pre-holiday food shopping. Before I take the list to the store, I check to see what I already have, and cross it off. Having a master list means I can easily add to the list, or take off anything we decide to drop from our menu. I keep a copy of each of these lists in my recipe book (which consists of recipes I’ve printed out, put in plastic sleeves, and stored in a three ring binder). When my children get older, I will give each of them copies of these lists, as well as my recipes, so they can have it easier from the start.
I also involve my children in the menu planning, and the meal preparations. They enjoy having a say in what they’ll have available to eat, and also learning how to make the different foods. I feel it’s extremely important to teach them to cook. As I always say to them, we all have to eat, and you never know when you’ll have to be the one to do the cooking! I think it’s nice to learn how to make the holiday meals, even though they’re not used as often as the everyday ones. I am eternally grateful to some of my sisters for tracking down our traditional recipes and creating a booklet with them all in it. I scanned my copy, so I can also make the special dishes from my childhood, and easily pass the recipes down to my children.