Meal Prep Tips: Save Time So You Can Spend Time

Do holiday meals leave you feeling frazzled—and wondering how you can save time cooking and connect with friends and family without the stress? Read on for quick meal prep tips to help streamline and personalize, and to keep the conversation going.

Save time prepping: Set the table a day in advance

Eliminate one massive to-do for the day of the holiday meal: Set the table a day in advance, with seats for all who are coming, plus serving bowls and platters for each menu item set out, too.

Save time cooking: Use your freezer

Many families use their freezers to stash make-ahead dishes for the holidays. You can also plan ahead in a different way: Fill up your deep-freeze with quick meal time solutions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,including take-and-bake chicken and extra bags of veggies and fruit.

Save time cooking: Pre-mix baking ingredients

Planning some homemade pies? Combine the dry components for the crusts a week ahead of time. The same goes for anything with a similar ingredient list: Mix pantry-safe items and store, labeled, in zip-top plastic bags or containers.

Save time cooking: Mix and match your food

Love making dessert but hate peeling potatoes? Consider purchasing premade items that you don’t love to cook from a restaurant or grocery store. Serve it in a pretty bowl and no one will know the difference.

Save time prepping: Let kids lend a hand

Your kids want to be part of the day, and if you let them—and let go of the idea of a “perfect” table or a “perfect” meal—you may just create new traditions as well. So ask them to set the table, and to decide on the details: decorated napkins with names and drawings, a paper table “runner” adorned with holiday images and stickers.

Spend time bonding: Five conversation starters

Want to keep your family members lingering long past second (or third) helpings? Give them something to talk about with conversation starters. Tuck questions or topics in a jar, or leave one idea at each person’s place setting. A few suggestions:

  1. What’s your greatest accomplishment in life so far?
  2. Pick a place, any place, that you dream about visiting and tell us why.
  3. What are you most looking forward to this year or next year?
  4. Who is your role model and why?
  5. What’s the funniest thing you saw, heard, or read this year?

With the right planning and the help of these meal prep tips from Vanity Fair® you can give yourself more time to spend doing what really matters around the table.