There is no shortage of books, articles, and videos that claim to offer stress-busting tips. And while most of the advice is good, sometimes what we need are insights that relate to our specific situation.
That’s why I have put together this list of 10 ways to avoid stress when cooking this holiday season. Whether you’re a newbie in the kitchen or a seasoned veteran, I hope you will find some practical wisdom here to help you enjoy the experience of cooking, as much as your family and their guests will enjoy the delicious results of your efforts!
1 Always clean your work area before getting started (use two different sponges for cleaning your workspace and dishes). Cleaning your work area will help you get into the right frame of mind, like a painter who sets up her easel and organizes her brushes before unleashing a masterpiece!
2 After making a grocery list, check online to see if you can find some coupons. Personally, I find saving money to be stress-reducing, and you probably do, too!
3 When buying ingredients, think ahead and imagine the different recipes that you can create in the same week. You’ll save time, money and stress.
4 If you have little ones at home, involve them in the cooking process. Have them measure ingredients for you (which is great for their math skills), as well as mix items. As a bonus, they will almost certainly eat what they had a hand in cooking. To learn more about turning dinner time into family time, read my article here.
5 Speaking of family: have your family provide their input on the menu for the week ahead. This will (hopefully) avoid complaining and conflicts down the road. But no matter what, always have at least two vegetables with every meal.
6 Never rush meals, and have a firm “no phones, no tablets and no TV” policy. We cannot connect with our families, or ourselves, until we disconnect from the outside world.
7 If possible, try not to schedule activities immediately after dinner. That way, if your family is having a nice conversation or simply enjoying each other’s company, then you don’t have to keep one eye on the clock. I know this isn’t always possible but try and do it as much as you can, no excuses.
8 Always sit down for meals, no matter how busy things are. Even if someone is racing through the kitchen in the morning and on their way out, if they can stand for two minutes, they can sit for two minutes.
9 Set the table with a tablecloth. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but it should be clean and sends the message that eating a meal together is a special time. I have several tablecloths, and I choose the one that fits the kind of atmosphere that I want to create — from bright and cheery to stylish and elegant
10 If possible, eat early so that everyone has plenty of time to digest their meal before going to bed. Otherwise, some people may complain of a stomach ache and think that it was because of the meal — when in truth it was due to when the meal was served.
I hope that you find these tips useful and practical, and that they help you avoid stress when cooking this holiday season — and throughout the year!
Happy (and Stress-Free) Cooking!