Thanksgiving Turkey DinnerEmily Buckley, editor-in-chief 

The countdown to Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parties, Christmas Eve feast and many more food-centered celebrations is on. This is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it can also be very stressful, especially for the hostess in charge of all these meals.

Here are a few tips from to help the feast-making and treat-baking as simple as possible during the holidays:

Shop the Sales. During the holidays most grocery stores offer sales and special offerings on unqiue holiday items. For example, Lee’s Marketplace (located locally in Smithfield and North Logan) offers special Holiday Hams only between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a couple weeks prior to Easter. These simple, but fancy hams, make the main course of a holiday meal the easiest preparation of all.

Plan Ahead. People often 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 goodie preparation,” said Floyd Salisbury, Lee’s Marketplace bakery manager. “Also, think of the less common ingredients that are common in holiday dishes like mint extract, canned pumpkin, cream cheese, chocolate chips, whipping cream and food coloring.” Another thing people sometimes forget to plan for are leftovers, Floyd said. “You may want homemade rolls for the main meal, but pick up some fresh rolls to use with your leftovers for the next couple of days.”

Shop at the Right Time, or Have it Delivered. Grocery stores are typically the busiest two days before Thanksgiving and again on Christmas Eve. To avoid the crowds, consider doing your shopping on different days or early in the morning. Another new, popular option is to have your groceries delivered. Lee’s Marketplace, and some other local grocery stores, now offer grocery delivery right to your kitchen, so you never have to step foot into the busy grocery store.

Buy Some Baked Goods. Lee’s Marketplace makes from-scratch pumpkin pies and dinner rolls with the same wholesome ingredients you use at home, so it may be worth buying time instead of ingredients. Be sure to place your special requests for holiday orders ahead of time to ensure availability.

Give Up Some of the Work. Save yourself some time by picking up freshly made cheeseballs from the deli and a box of crackers for an appetizer, office party or hostess gift. Another good idea is to keep a veggie or cheese tray on hand for unexpected visitors. You can buy pre-cut produce that will save you time of cutting your fruit and vegetables. To save some extra effort when decorating Christmas cookies, you can buy un-frosted sugar cookies from the bakery in holiday shapes and colored frosting separately so your kids can enjoy decorating.

By implementing these simple tips, you will have less food preparation to stress about and more time to enjoy what matters most this holiday season: your family.