Special Dinner Shortcuts

Thanksgiving DinnerDear Friends,

This is for all of the procrastinators. This testimonial can help you.

Are you running out of time and need some shortcuts for Easter Dinner? Are you new at all this planning and don’t know what to do? Here are some easy hints and ideas to help you with time and if you are a beginner. Trust me you can pull off this dinner!~FlyLady

Here is the testimonial:

There are so many options out there to help you save time and energy. We all would like to be the one that can prepare everything from scratch and impress our families with these beautiful dinner presentations but for those of us that need some help and time savers; let’s explore what is out there.

In the freezer section of the grocery store there are turkeys that are sold in a bag that you cook the turkey in FROZEN! I am not kidding, you do not have to thaw the turkey, you take it from the freezer, put it into a roasting pan and put it in the oven. They sell these three different ways – whole turkeys, turkey breasts and boneless turkey breasts. They even come with gravy packets and a pop up timer. These turkeys are almost fool proof and a huge convenience. I always use the Jeannie-O brand. I have used them for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. They are fool and goof proof! I LOVE them!

Staying in the freezer section there are some fabulous frozen vegetables out there right now that are so easy to prepare. They come in bags that you pop into the microwave, the vegetables steam in the bag and voila in less than 5 minutes you have a vegetable that you can “dress” up as though you have slaved all day. An example would be to cook the green beans in the bag and then toss with a bit splash of lemon juice and top with some slivered almonds. Quick and easy! These are sold in green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, a medley, carrots and corn. You can mix and match and provide a tasty and wonderful vegetable for your family very easily without pots and pans. There are also fresh vegetables in the produce section that come in steaming bags. Again an easy way to provide veggies with very little work or dishes to clean up. If you don’t like heating in plastic, just dump them into microwavable serving dishes and cover before cooking.

One of my favorite ways to provide a basket of steaming rolls for the table is to buy frozen yeast rolls, these come in a pan that you pop in the oven and then place in a basket for the table. MMMMM fresh and hot yeast rolls that taste like you were mixing a yeast dough all day and oh so easy! Again no dishes or pans to scrub.

Keep an eye on that freezer section there are a ton of new and helpful things even gluten free choices! You will be surprised at what you can bless your table with that saves you time and makes you look like you slaved all day! Shh I’ll keep your secret!

Mashed Potatoes can be made in a number of ways without spending two hours peeling potatoes, boiling water, cooking, and mashing. My particular favorite shortcut to mashed potatoes can be found in the meat or dairy section of the grocery store. There are several brands of mashed potatoes that are already made and waiting for you in plastic tubs that only have to be heated in the containers. You can jazz them up with cheese or garlic if you want. You pop them in the microwave, dump them into a serving dish and bam! You have mashed potatoes that have great texture and taste with out the pots and pans. Again – if you don’t like heating in plastic, just put the potatoes microwave safe dishes and presto!

Stuffing is something that is always made differently in all families, some like it baked where it is cut into squares and others like it fluffy in a bowl. Some like to make the stuffing from day old bread and others use it from a box or bag. I am going to tell you how I have made it for years and my family goes crazy for it. I used to make a box mix of stuffing and just get by with that. After reading magazines and recipes I found a way to jazz up a box mix that no one has ever noticed that I do not spend hours slaving making the stuffing. I take a medium to large onion and chop it finely, then 8 stalks of celery and chop finely, saute in a pan with half a stick of butter, prepare the stuffing mix as the box instructs then add in the sauteed vegetables, loosely pile into a oven safe baking dish and lightly toast the top. Done. I use two boxes of stuffing mix one cornbread flavor and the other turkey flavor. The family raves over it! There are many variations to this – use chicken broth instead of plain water, chop up and apple and toss that in as well, and much much more. Use your creativity to enjoy!

Some families celebrate with both ham and a turkey for dinner. I purchase a small already cooked and spiral sliced ham from the meat section of the grocery store. I do not bake the entire thing in the oven. I peel off the slices, arrange them on a plate and heat them in the microwave. I place the heated slices on a platter for the table. No one (until now) would ever know that I do not bake the ham myself. This is a huge time saver and again a way to save on roasting pans and also the fight for oven space.

Gravy – there are so many options out there for gravy; canned, jarred or mixes. If you insist on homemade that is great but please have a back up mix in the cabinet just in case.

This may not be the way you chose to cook Thanksgiving every year, however, these are some simple ways for you to save on time and energy for most of the traditional foods that are prepared at Thanksgiving and still enjoy your family. Sometimes plans change at the last minute and instead of resorting to having sandwiches (or nothing) , remember you still have time to prepare a loving and heart felt dinner, even if that means utilizing some shortcuts so that you are not stressed and yelling. I am all for using whatever it takes to make sure that Mom is still smiling by the time the family sits down to dinner. I have used all of these shortcuts for dinners and was amazed at how much easier some of these methods were that allowed me not to be exhausted by the time dinner was over.

FlyLady here: These shortcuts were written by a FlyBaby who was pregnant and just about to deliver. She came up with this to give her family a holiday meal.

The FlyLady crew wants you to have a season full of peace and joy – not one crammed full of stress and bad memories because we were too short tempered and ill prepared to enjoy ourselves and our families. Take the time to really look at what you have planned. If you don’t have a plan, make one and look at what you can do to save yourself time and energy! This is a holiday celebrating gratefulness, joy, family gatherings and peace. It doesn’t matter what you prepare as long as you prepare it with love and keep the focus on time spent together.

Happy Easter from all of us at FlyLady. We love you!

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