Catalyst Community: Holiday Meals

The word “community” is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular interest in common. Catalyst Midland has launched a series titled “Catalyst Community” focusing on different communities — sometimes geographic, sometimes a common interest. 

In this week’s Catalyst, we focus on a task many of us share this time of year, preparing holidays meals.

Our teacher is Erica Sprague, a science teacher at the junior/senior high school in Beaverton. She’s in her 20th year in education. Erica is a teacher both inside and outside the classroom. She also has a presence on social media to share home economics ideas. 


The holidays can be both joyous and stressful. If you are the person providing the big fancy dinners and extravagant desserts that everyone looks forward to, that can be a lot to shoulder. As much as I enjoy cooking and baking and seeing the joy my food brings to people, I can get buried under a list of things to do. The holiday season does sneak up on us, too!

Over the years, I have tried to streamline my prep work. Knowing what I am making, when it needs to be done and how much I am bringing certainly helps! I no longer wait until the day or two before the event to stress. With Thanksgiving just a couple of weeks away, let’s talk about what you can do now (and in future years) to make sure your dinner is ready to go, delicious and stress free! It’s not too late to start thinking about Christmas, too!

Thanksgiving turkey
First, start stocking up on items you know you’ll need a lot of-especially when they are on sale! I have noticed that stores sometimes run out of the basics, like chicken stock, when the holidays are upon us. Items that are shelf stable will keep until you need them, so start buying them well ahead of time. I often stock up on canned goods, stock/broth, spices and seasonings, and baking supplies like flour and sugar.
Holiday cookies
Get the freshest produce when it is in season and utilize the freezer and vacuum sealing bags. Although we are nearing the end of the peak season for many veggies, you might still be able to find a few. Put this one on your list for next year! I like to flash freeze green beans and store them for green bean casseroles. We always need more GBC!! You may not realize that hard squash also freezes well. I peel and cube it raw and freeze it until I need to boil, roast or mash it up. I have even cooked it, mashed it up and stored it flat in a freezer bag to save space.

Lastly, shop the store sale flyers and ads! Some of the big grocery stores in our areas will run unbelievable sales on turkeys and hams. Sale ads and flyers go out at least a few days to alert you to the upcoming sale. Head in right away to get the best selection. I have found that the smaller turkeys, around 10-12 pounds are the most flavorful and moist, and of course, those go first! I would rather buy two small turkeys than a very large one. 

Anything that you can prepare and make ahead of time is bound to make your holidays more enjoyable and your meals served in a more efficient manner. A lot of us home cooks have recipes and methods that are near and dear to us and are as much a part of the tradition as serving the meal! But, also consider the gift of passing these traditions along! As you plan ahead for the busy kitchen season, think about who might enjoy spending time learning from you!

Need help in the kitchen this holiday season? Check out my blog or posts on Facebook and Instagram. Feel free to message me with any kitchen related questions!

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