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Reduce stress, money, energy

November 26, 2008|By LYNN LITTLE

Do you have a lot to do? Are you juggling holiday meals, shopping, gift-giving and many holiday gatherings? If you're not careful, you can overextend yourself in time, money and energy.

You can reduce some of the stress of the holidays through good planning. By shopping ahead it will help to reduce stress and save money.

Determine your holiday menu and what food gifts you will be preparing. Most grocery stores will have specials on some foods that are used in holiday festivities, such as turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.

List the ingredients you will need for all the dishes on your menu. See what you have on hand. Make a list of what you will need to purchase. This is the beginning of your grocery list.

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If you start purchasing a few of the things you will need for the holiday meals and special foods, you will save money and not ruin your food budget. It is easier to buy a few extras each week and not foul up the food budget for the holidays.

Many of the items you want will be on sale before the holiday, so purchase them and freeze them for the holidays.

This is also a good time to purchase the extra sugar, flour and other items you will need to do your holiday baking.

If you plan to give cookies, cakes or breads for gifts, buy the ingredients when they are on sale. Start baking early and freeze the baked goods. Cookies, breads and cakes can be made and frozen a month in advance.

This will relieve the stress of having so much cooking or baking to be done the week before the holiday.

Purchase only what you have on your grocery list each week. There are many products displayed in grocery stores during the holidays that catch your attention. But these items can really increase your grocery bill.

Some preparation such as chopping onions and celery can be done several days before the holidays and stored in plastic storage bags. Storage bags take up less space in the refrigerator.

This is also a good time to make marinated or congealed salads. Also, set the turkey in the bottom of the refrigerator to thaw.

When the turkey has thawed enough that you can get the giblets out of the carcass, stew them, then refrigerate them for gravy.

Don't forget to purchase plastic storage bags, aluminum foil and plastic wrap for freezing or storing foods you have prepared in advance in the refrigerator.

Gather some recipes that make use of leftovers. Casserole and salad recipes are good choices for using leftover turkey.

With recipes for leftovers gathered, check the pantry for what you already have on hand and then purchase items that you need to make the dish.

Plan ahead so you can reduce your stress during the holiday season and enjoy this time with your friends and family.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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