Make Holiday Cooking Easier This Year

Holiday entertaining can be fun if you vow to keep it simple. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the holidays more and be less stressed:

• Prepare as much as you can in advance. Choose freezable dishes for half the menu and prepare as much as you can the day before. Many desserts can be frozen.

• Recruit the family to help cook, clean and decorate. Be sure to heap on the lavish praise for a job well done so they are inclined to help again.

• Ask for help from your fellow cooks. You can share the planning of menus, shopping for groceries and cooking duties with family and friends. Or ask a few guests to bring a dish or dessert.

• Don't drown in dirty dishes. If you're having a holiday open house or tree-trimming party, use plastic plates and utensils to make cleanup easy.

• Don't try to outdo yourself. It does not have to be a gourmet meal to be special. Some of the best memories are created over the simplest meals. Serving one appetizer, an entrĂ©e, a salad and a side dish, and buying the dessert and the bread, can make it easy to serve a holiday meal.

• Stock up on basic ingredients such as chicken broth in resealable cartons, plus supplies for saving leftovers and storing dishes made in advance.

For example, Tetra Pak shelf-stable cartons keep food fresh for up to one year without refrigeration or preservatives. Many have resealable openings, which makes saving leftovers much easier.

If all you want is a glass of wine, but you don't want to open an entire bottle, you can use a single-serve container. Or share a one-liter package with friends, reclose it and save the rest-and there is no hassling with a corkscrew.

If you want to use just part of the broth, you can now store a variety of different broth flavors in your cupboard. Use what you need and restore the rest in the refrigerator for later.

Want a great-tasting pasta sauce, but don't have time to make it from scratch?

Pasta sauces in these cartons come in a variety of flavors and are easy to store and open (no can opener needed).

The cartons are used to store broths, nutritional products, soymilk, soups, wines, pasta sauces, juices and milk.

Use shelf-stable packages so that you will always have what you need on hand.

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About The Author, Wendy Mitchell