How to create the holiday meal/event menu you need:
1. Write down the date, time & name of the event
2. Figure out the number of people you need to feed. Make a list!
3. Decide if this is a full meal or an appetizers & desserts type affair.
4. Write down what your ideal menu looks like. Don't forget:
- specialty drinks or cocktails (eggnog, spiced cider, signature cocktail, etc)
- beverages (adults & kids)
- garnishes for drinks (lime & lemon wedges, maraschino cherries, peppermint sticks)
- main dish
- condiments (gravy, cranberry sauce, etc)
- after dinner drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic, coffee)
5. Determine if you know how to make everything on your menu. If not, it's time to find recipes or decide on a substitute. My personal favorite websites for recipes are All Recipes and Epicurious but there are hundreds of places to search. Don't forget to peak in that old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook you got for your wedding too. My favorite cookbook for making, well, anything is How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Never roasted a turkey? Mark will help you produce a tasty bird the first time.
6. Decide what to delegate to others who are coming
7. Now that you have a menu and recipes it's time to determine quantities. You know what you want to make but how much? There's an easy calculator at Best Party Ever than can help with quantity suggestions.
8. You're finally ready to make your shopping list. Go through each recipe. Write down every ingredient it calls for (even if you know you already have it on hand.) Now check to confirm what you have on hand and put a check by it. The rest is your shopping list. At this point you might want to rewrite the list to sort by store (liquor store, warehouse club, grocery store, etc) and within each store by category. The more you can group like items together (produce with produce) the less likely you are to overlook something on your list and the less amount of back-tracking you'll have to do in the store.
Steps 9 & 10 are purely optional for those of you who want to maximize your savings.
9. Do you clip coupons? Now is the time to go through your coupons and pull anything you can use for your shopping trip.
10. Check the grocery store website(s) where you normally shop and see what they have on sale this week. Add anything that's already on sale to this week's grocery list. Save the rest for next week.
11. Hit the stores!