10 Holiday Cooking Tips You Need to Know


Although the end result is delicious, holiday cooking is a lot of work and can be stressful. The larger crowds at the grocery store, the higher grocery bills, and the chaos in the kitchen can turn what should be pleasant times into irritable experiences that you dread all year long.

However, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can take charge of the situation and enjoy your holiday cooking experiences. To help you prepare, we've provided 10 tips to streamline the preparation and cooking processes.

1. Buy Ingredients over Time

Instead of being slammed in November and December by high grocery store bills, begin looking for holiday ingredient items – preferably on sale – that are shelf-stable. Some suggestions include:

  • Canned items (pumpkin, creamy soups, cranberries)
  • Flour
  • Frozen and canned vegetables
  • Spices
  • Sugars

2. Avoid Clutter in the Kitchen

Before cooking, temporarily relocate the appliances you won't need on the Big Cooking Day, such as the toaster, blender, and so forth. This will give you much more countertop space on which to work.

Holiday Cooking Tip:

Take this opportunity to remove any other clutter that isn't strictly related to cooking, such as paperwork, charging stations, napkin holders, and the like.

3. Prep Food in Advance

Wash and prepare recipe ingredients ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Vegetables and meats typically freeze well, as does bread. Another option is to purchase items that are already prepped and frozen, such as chopped onions.

4. Make It Potluck

It's becoming less common to expect a single household to prepare a large meat dish, several side dishes, and desserts. Having a potluck dinner is a great idea for so many reasons.

By inviting others to share in the food preparation, you can:
  • Ease the burden on your wallet
  • Bring a sense of sharing and community to the table
  • Allow those who like to cook or bake to participate
  • Focus on your guests instead of being trapped in the kitchen all-day
For those who don't have the time or interest in cooking, you can ask them to bring items that don't require preparation, such as wine, beer, soda, or coffee.

5. Swap Out Traditional Dishes for Three-Ingredient Holiday Recipes

If your grandmother's recipes are labor-intensive, try switching to simpler versions. Look for easy holiday recipes that don't require extensive preparation and make substitutes, such as replacing:
  • Fresh or raw fruits and vegetables with frozen, bagged fruits and vegetables
  • Homemade breadcrumbs for bagged breadcrumbs
  • Hand-rolled meatballs with frozen meatballs

For examples of simplified recipes, check out this three-ingredient Green Bean Casserole and three-ingredient Cauliflower Stuffing from Ready. Chef. Go!.

Easy Holiday Recipes

6. Streamline the Ingredient List 

For maximum cooking simplicity, use multi-ingredient items. These types of products are designed to save you time, such as:

  • Canned creamed soups like cream of mushroom or cream of celery
  • Frozen, bagged vegetable medleys like carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Spice mixes like pumpkin spice or Italian seasoning
For more ideas on simplifying the ingredient list, look over our list of easy holiday recipes that have just three ingredients.

7. Use Your Microwave

You'd be surprised at how many dishes can be prepared in the microwave. This helps free up oven or stovetop space for other dishes.

Easy holiday recipes that are microwavable include:

Holiday Cooking Tip:

To keep meals warm longer and save on clean-up time, cook dishes in an RCG! microwaveable bag.

8. Employ Your Slow Cooker

Using the slow cooker is one of those holiday cooking tips that's frequently overlooked. In fact, many popular holiday dishes that can be made in a slow cooker include the stuffing or dressing, green bean casserole, ham, and turkey breast.

Holiday Cooking Tip:

RCG! slow cooker bags are perfect for holiday cooking because they:
  • Keep food from drying out while cooking
  • Spare you from scrubbing afterward
  • Let you spend more time with holiday guests
After the holidays are over, try experimenting with other slow cooker recipes.

9. Delegate Tasks

Our grandmothers knew what they were talking about when they said, "Many hands make light work." As you get closer to your holiday dinner, take advantage of any kind offers to help you out. Family or guests can:
  • Assemble serving plates/bowls and serving utensils
  • Polish silver or set the dining room table
  • Run errands, such as picking up food from the store
On the actual day of the holiday meal, you can ask others to perform basic tasks, such as:
  • Washing and chopping vegetables and herbs
  • Assembling cold appetizer plates (meats & cheeses or vegetables & dip)
  • Preparing beverages and the coffee maker
  • Placing canned and bottled beverages in coolers in the garage

10. Move Cleanup Activities Out of the Kitchen

After your meal, if you're lucky enough to have help in the kitchen, you can keep the kitchen chaos-free by having them perform these clean-up tasks outside of the kitchen:
  • Gather up cloth tablecloths, napkins, and placemats and go outdoors to shake them out.
  • Scrape food waste off of plates and into the trash.
  • Spoon leftovers into covered storage containers or zipper bags.

Curious About Cooking Bags and Their Uses?

RCG! cooking bags fit perfectly into today's kitchen, whether it's for the big holiday meal or quick, weekday recipes.
  • Find out where Ready. Chef. Go! bags are available.
  • Learn more about the benefits of cooking bags.
  • Experiment with new recipes.
  • Shop our various types of cooking bags.
  • Ask us questions about RCG! cooking bags