5 Holiday Cooking Tips: How to Save Time and Money

If that smile looks a little forced, it could be because of how much time and money it takes to put together a memorable holiday meal. See more pictures of Thanksgiving turkey.
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There's lots of stress related to the holiday season: presents to buy, decorations to hang, festivities to attend. It can really start to suck up extra time and money -- two things most people already have in relatively short supply. But while decorating and gift buying can be done weeks -- and in the latter case even months -- ahead of time, whoever's been nominated to host the holiday dinners knows stress like no others. The time line offers little flexibility, and while some activities can be completed in advance, it's a process that's remarkably similar to the football games blaring out from the TV. The plays you call can make or break you, so you need to make sure everything you do is well-run and perfectly timed.

If you've ever been in charge of feeding a herd of hungry guests all expecting a gourmet meal to cap off their holiday festivities, you know that holiday meals will leave you with a much longer receipt at the grocery store than your normal routine. Prep work and cooking will likely occupy much of your time for two whole days, depending on your particular process. Then, to make matters worse, chances are the compliments will be fleeting before talk turns to other matters, leaving you exhausted, broke and not enjoying the holiday like you should be.

By taking a little time to plan your holiday meal strategy, you can save yourself time and money, which can help when a chorus of "Looks great!" and, "It's delicious!" quickly gives way to a lengthy discussion centered on the day's football games.