So you’ve decided that you are going to cook the big holiday meal this year. That’s great! I’m going to help prepare you, by suggesting the essentials needed for a perfect holiday meal, so that you’re not panicking at the last minute because you’ve forgotten something totally necessary.

Question…What are the two things you run out for at the last minute when preparing holiday meals? Seasonings and utensils.

No one wants to have to make a last minute substitution because they forgot something at the store. When you’re making a list of the grocery items you need, don’t forget the utensils. Unless you have a large family, most people don’t use every pot, pan and spatula in their kitchen unless it’s the holidays.

To save on storage space and money, look for items that are disposable. You don’t need to purchase a new 20-piece cookware set for an additional ham. That’s why the list of food and the list of utensils go together. Here are a few examples of what you might need to buy:

  • Roasting pans (turkey, ham)
  • Side dish pans (square aluminum pans)
  • Cake pans
  • Serving utensils
  • Cake pans (can be non-disposable – you may use them later)
  • Trash bags (not a utensil or cookware but a necessary item for cleanup)
  • Plasticware
  • Thermometer (meat, candy)
  • Mixing bowls

It seems like a long list but it’s not really. Instead of using all of your baking pans and washing them repeatedly, it’s just easier to cook sides and meats in disposable aluminum pans. They hold up well when cooking and can be thrown away afterwards. If a family wants to take home leftovers, you can use the extra pans you have left. This gives them one container to store their “take home” treats and a way to warm them up also.

You may have enough silverware for a service for four or six, but 26 people are out of the question. At party supply stores, they sell Holiday plasticware that resembles real silverware. I’ve even seen this at my local Sam’s Club. Your family won’t mind and your holiday table will still look elegant.

Anyone preparing food like meat needs a meat thermometer. Turkey takes a long time to cook and you want to be sure it is cooked throughout. A meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh will let you know when the turkey is done. Even the ones with pop-up meters in the turkey, (which I never use), always check the internal temperature yourself.

A lot goes into making holiday meals special for family and friends. Avoid a last minute drive to the store or a sink full of dishes. Purchase what essentials you need beforehand.