Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

Don't let last minute trips to the store for food stuffs stress you out this Christmas season! If you have young children, you know there are no "quick" trips to the grocery store. Here are some tips to make the most of your time, your money, and the season:

1. Write down all occasions you will need to provide food for (teacher gifts, parties, Christmas dinner, out-of-town guests, etc.). Do this TODAY.

2. Come up with menus and a master shopping list for the special occasions mentioned above.

3. Come up with simple menus/dinner options to ease the other days.

4. Make a master grocery list for the biggies, nonperishables, etc.

5. Go shopping THIS WEEK for the nonperishables, paper products, and items that freeze well.

6. Relax :).

This isn't as time consuming as it sounds. I made up a Christmas Day menu (fairly straightforward), volunteered to contribute the same food to both a cookie decorating party and a Christmas party, and thought through some possibilities for edible gifts. I knew some of my items were cheapest at Aldi, some are better purchased at Sam's, and some can be found at Kroger. Here's how it works:

Today, the kids and I hit up Dollar Tree for paper products (we're hosting two parties). I bought more than I need; if we do end up with extras, well...Christmas is same time, same place next year :).

Next, we hit Aldi for butter (can freeze), chocolate chips, white sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, milk, cream, cream cheese, fancy crackers, candy canes, chocolate truffles, orange juice concentrate, canned pineapple, apple cider, pineapple juice (for wassail), sprinkles, onions, potatoes, oranges, eggs, evaporated milk,.....

I already have lots of flour and pecans. Therefore, I'm in good shape for endless cookies, my shortbread, my spiced pecans, and serving hot pepper jelly (already on hand) with cream cheese and crackers. Check! All appetizers and volunteered desserts are taken care of and I can make fun desserts with the kids for fun Christmas-time activities.

We have to make a Sam's run, but that can wait until next week; I'll pick up all meat for the holidays and make sure we have enough TP, paper towels, and so forth. That's all the extra shopping we'll need.

If you have enough eggs, flour, sugar, and a few extras (oats, nuts, and/or chocolate chips) along with your basic Christmas spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc.), then you can always whip up a last minute dessert without running to the store. Don't overlook hot drinks: hot chocolate ingredients, coffee, tea, spiced tea, etc. So, stock up on the basics this week and you can coast through, enjoying this Christmas season with your family and friends; you might run out of ingredients for a gourmet treat, but you can still make delicious drinks and desserts! Everyone loves cookies.

One final note: if you follow this plan, you're likely to make a gigantic grocery run this week. If you can afford it, plan to swing through Chick-Fil-A for a great peppermint chocolate chip milkshake or some similar treat for the kiddos who were forced to accompany you.

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