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Christmas cooking essentials

Be sure to have everything you need for your Christmas cooking at hand.

Stocking your pantry for Christmas cooking and gathering all tools is easy. Just check the list below.

The well-stocked pantry for Christmas cooking

The last thing any holiday cooks want to do is walk around the kitchen and find out that they are missing a vital item they need to finish a meal in fantastic fashion. Undoubtedly it has happened to you at least once. Be sure it doesn't happen again with this pantry staple list for the holidays.

Each holiday, most of us prepare the same things. There are favorite family dishes that must be prepared or Aunt Minnie will have a fit. That goes for desserts as well. Since you know this in advance, let's make sure that the kitchen cupboards are stocked with the items you use the most.

The pantry list includes items for the fridge, cupboard and the freezer. Let's begin with the cupboard:

  • Flour (all purpose, cake)
  • Baking soda
  • Dry yeast (for breads)
  • Sugar (white, brown, confectioners')
  • Chocolate (bricks, squares, morsels, cocoa powder)
  • Nuts (pecans, English walnuts, almonds)
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper)
  • Baking powder
  • Honey, oil, vinegar
  • Broth
  • Dried fruits
  • Vegetables (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, garlic)
  • Rice
  • Dried past

This is just a short list. Depending on your tastes, you'll add or detract from it depending on your tastes. Now we move on to the fridge. Some items just need to stay in there to stay fresh. To know your refrigerated pantry staples, think of things that you are always sending someone to the store for.

  • Milk
  • Butter (not margarine)
  • Sour cream
  • Eggs
  • Lemon juice
  • Half and half

This list is shorter because you use these items more when you cook and bake around the holidays than any other time. The broth from the other list will end up in the fridge after you open it.

Don't forget the freezer. Most of the freezer staples come into play with baking but they can pertain to cooking the meal if you make fruit relishes, cranberry sauce from scratch and other condiment additions to your holiday table.

  • Frozen fruit (berry mix, peaches)
  • Frozen vegetables (to make up for any shortfall with fresh veggie side dishes)
  • Fruit juices from concentrate

As you can see, there are a lot of staples that you'll need when cooking and baking for the holidays. You don't necessarily have to account for every family member who darkens your door. If your list includes at least these items you are well on your way to a well-stocked holiday pantry.

Essentials you need for the perfect Christmas dinner

What are the two things you run out for at the last minute when preparing Christmas dinner? Seasoning and utensils. This article addresses the essentials you need to be sure you have on hand when cooking Christmas dinner.

No one wants to have to make a last minute substitution because they forgot something at the store. When you are making a list of the grocery items you need, don't forget the utensils. Unless you have a large family, most people don't use every pot, pan and spatula in their kitchen unless it is Christmas.

To save on storage space and money, look for items that are disposable. You don't need to purchase a new 20-piece cookware set for an additional ham. That is why the list of food and the list of utensils go together. Here are a few examples of what you might need to buy:

  • Roasting pans (turkey, ham)
  • Side dish pans (square aluminum pans)
  • Cake pans
  • Serving utensils
  • Cake pans (can be non-disposable - you may use them later)
  • Trash bags (not a utensil or cookware but a necessary item for clean up)
  • Plasticware
  • Thermometer (meat, candy)
  • Mixing bowls

It seems like a long list but not really. Instead of using all of your baking pans and washing them repeatedly, it is easier to cook sides and meats in disposable aluminum pans. They hold up well when cooking and can be thrown away afterwards. If a family wants to take home leftovers, you can use the extra pans you have left. This gives them one container to store their "take home" treats and a way to warm them up also.

You may have enough silverware for a service for four or six, but 26 people are out of the question. At party supply stores, they sell Christmas plasticware that resembles real silverware. Your family won't mind and your holiday table will still look elegant.

Anyone preparing food like meat needs a meat thermometer. Turkey takes a long time to cook and you want to be sure it is cooked throughout. A meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh will let you know when the turkey is done. Even with pop-up meters in the turkey, always check the internal temperature yourself.

A lot goes into making Christmas dinner special for family and friends. Avoid the last minute drive to the store or a sink full of dishes. Purchase what essentials you need beforehand.