Last Christmas I prepared and served the largest Christmas dinner ever. It took three ovens and the assistance of three young women of the next generation to get it all accomplished. While one turkey would have been sufficient for all 16 of us, I happen to prefer smoked turkey, my husband prefers regular turkey and several family members prefer ham over any type of turkey. Thus, I had two turkeys and a ham going as well as all the trimmings. To keep everything and everyone on track, I developed a small spreadsheet that I used to calculate when what had to go into which oven to get everything finished at the same time. This year there are only six of us for Christmas yet my list has already saved me countless hours of planning and prep.
Make Christmas Dinner Easy with a Reusable Spreadsheet:
The spreadsheet has four columns. The first column lists basic menu. The second column has notes such as how long it will take to prepare the item. The third column is how long the menu item needs to cook and the fourth column denotes the cooking method. The fourth column has been my saving grace this year. For a turkey, it designates a simple how long and what temperature to roast. This year, I just have to check how much the turkey weighs and my little spreadsheet shows me how long to cook it for.
Make Christmas Dinner Easy by Creating a Shopping List:
The spreadsheet also has notes for things such as a relish tray. I had forgotten what a big hit the deviled eggs were at last year’s Christmas, but my spreadsheet reminded me. By checking over last year’s menu, it was simple to make up this year’s shopping list. I added a second page to my spreadsheet that has my shopping list and it is now permanently saved. It took a matter of minutes to go through the list and figure out what was on hand and what needed to be purchased and it was easy to shop store specials for what we needed. This saved me quite a bit of money and I did not feel stressed shopping at the last minute.
Make Christmas Dinner Easy by Planning Ahead:
Life is generally busy and without my spreadsheet, I would be starting over on figuring out when what needs to be done. Instead, I know I need to do the baking the day before as well as chop up vegetables and do all the preparation so that it is a simple matter of sliding pans into the ovens at the appropriate time.
Make Christmas Dinner Easy: Leftovers
Even though I felt like I was feeding an army, I knew I would have a ton of leftovers which I looked forward to. No, we did not eat turkey and ham for a month. I actually carved all the left overs up and froze them in convenient size portions. I made soup stock from the turkey bones and used the hambone to make a huge pot of navy beans that were canned for future use. By researching what I could do with my leftovers, I was able to create numerous meals that my family enjoyed several months. The freezer and canning preserved things until we wanted them use them in.
Use Your Christmas Dinner Menu for Other Occasions:
The best part of my spreadsheet menu and shopping plan is I can be ready for Thanksgiving, Easter, a wedding or any other occasion that needs a huge meal. The basic menu can be changed for any type or style of meal.
I figure my spreadsheet has saved me over seven hours of planning this year and almost half of my regular budget. Even though the family is smaller, I want to make this meal a stress free time for the cook (me). I would rather spend my time visiting and enjoying Christmas than slaving over the stove and my spreadsheet keeps me on track to make Christmas Easy. So, when you sit down to create your own menu this, create your own spreadsheet so that you have a place to organize your dinner menu and will not have to ever stress over it again.