Emily Buckley, editor in chief 

WHEN IT COMES to the holidays many of the best memories are made in the kitchen, or around the table. Maybe your family is like mine? We like to prepare lots of delicious food leading up to the big day to ensure there are plenty of leftovers to get us through the holiday weekend.

I love to spend time baking, but when the rest of my family disappears to play a game, watch a movie, or try new toys, sometimes I regret my big plans in the kitchen.

Here are three ways you can make things simpler this holiday season:

Plan ahead

Many people make recipes during the holidays they don’t prepare any other time of year. Many of these call for staple ingredients you may, or may not, have on hand. Check your refrigerator and pantry ahead of time to ensure you have enough butter, eggs, flour, sugar, spices, and seasonings to get you through your meal and holiday treat preparation. Double check your list so you don’t have to make multiple trips to the grocery store.

Special order

One way to ensure you have plenty of delicious food, and that you don’t miss out on family time spent doing other things, is to take advantage of pre-made dishes or even complete meals offered by local businesses.

Lee’s Marketplace is one great resource for such meals. They offer complete holiday dinners (including turkey, prime rib, and ham dinners with all the fixings) that only need to be heated before serving. Their options include meals to feed a large family or smaller portions for individuals or couples.

If you don’t want to forgo favorite family recipes on your holiday table, you can also, of course, purchase individual parts of the meal like rolls or pies, or a cheeseball or veggie tray to serve as an appetizer.

All parts of the meal at Lee’s Marketplace, from potatoes that are cut right in the store to Lee’s signature pies, are made from scratch, so everything will taste as fresh as if it were made in your own kitchen.

“We are living in a weird world where we may have to have smaller gatherings or social distance, even at the holidays,” Tim Rigby, Lee’s Marketplace marketing director, said. “We have options that will work for every size group.”

Give up some of the work

You can save some time and effort by purchasing unfrosted, holiday-shaped sugar cookies from your favorite bakery. Lee’s Marketplace, for example, also sells portions of colored frosting separately so your family can enjoy decorating cookies for Santa without quite as much preparation or mess.

“These ideas may seem like shortcuts,” Tim said, “but when you finally have time off from work, school, or other responsibilities, it can be nice to simply enjoy the extra time with your family. This is one way to relieve the ‘preparing the perfect meal’ part of holiday stress.”

Check out these other favorite local vendors for delicious additions to your holiday meal or gift basket that will make your preparations easier than ever:

CRUMB BROTHERS BAKERY offers delicious European-style pastries, crusty breads, croissants, scratch soups, and sandwiches.

GREAT HARVEST BREAD CO. offers simple, delicious breads, cookies, cinnamon rolls, scones, and more that are perfect for serving your family or gifting to neighbors or friends.

SWEETLY DIVINE offers delicious jalapeño jellies that we love to add to charcuterie trays.

ROCKHILL CHEESE produces hand-crafted cheese made from the milk of six Brown Swiss cows on a historic farm in Richmond.

BLUEBIRD CANDY’S hand-dipped chocolates make a lovely addition to a table setting, charcuterie, or gift basket.

OLD GRIST MILL’S bread is delicious for turkey sandwich leftovers. Get a quart of soup for quick meal on a cold night.