Americans are busy. We don’t need a government study to tell us that. But, for the sake of making our own jaws drop or to pat ourselves on the back, let’s check out just how busy the average American is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earlier this year they analyzed data collected from working Americans throughout 2013 and found the average employed person works about 7.6 hours each workday. That’s just work, not the household activities that pile up while one is actually at work. On any average day 83% of women and 65% of men spend some time cooking, caring for the lawn or working on a budget – women spend about 2.6 hours doing household activities while men spend 2.1 hours. So imagine if you spend that 2.6 hours whipping up holiday meals and decorating holiday cookies on these days. Wouldn’t you hate to see it go to waste right before your eyes on the way to the holiday party when your spouse takes a sharp right and the tray flips over? Meal presentation ruined. Tension building. Holiday party arrival approaching. Happy holidays everyone!
Let’s avoid all of that by creating some easy-to-transport holiday meals this season.
It may look extreme, but the frugal blogger Mavis Butterfield knows how important it is to transport a nice hot meal safely. She suggests cooking your meal or appetizer as usual in a crock pot, then bring it to serving temperature. Place the crockpot in a blanket or towel lined tote and put it in a plastic utility bin. Cover the crock pot with blankets or towels and stuff utensils or plates around it inside the bin. Close the lid and pack it into your vehicle. When you’re ready to use it, unpack and lay it out on the table. Not only will the towels or blankets keep the food at a safe temperature, but they’ll also soak up any unexpected spills on the drive.
Don’t let it slide.
If you’ve made bite-sized Hors d’Oeuvres, instead of placing them on a fancy plate alone, consider transporting them on a baking sheet with a towel or adding a towel to your plate for transport. Use duct or masking tape to tape the towel and then arrange the individual items on the towel and cover with plastic wrap. The towel keeps the bite-sized goodies from slipping, sliding, and flipping. You can even put a nonskid mat on the ground and place your tray on that to keep it from sliding around.
In an interview with Real Simple magazine, executive pastry chef and partner at Cenitare and Tru restaurants in Chicago, Gale Gand, suggested transporting pies by inverting an empty pie plate on top of the pie and wrapping a big sheet of foil around the two plates to hold them together. This will keep your pie looking pretty by preventing it from getting smashed.
Go Black and White.
Do you still get the newspaper delivered to your house? It’s great for more than just staying up to speed on current events; newspaper is a great insulator for cold items. If you need to transport a dish that has to stay cold, put it in a Tupperware dish and place the sealed container in a cardboard box or wooden basket and crumple up newspaper pages to fill any empty space. This will help keep the items at a great temperature.
Put it in a jar.
Not only does the Mason jar project class and style, it also makes it look like you’ve put so much extra thought into something simply. Really? It truly does. How cute does lemonade look when it is served in a mason jar? It’s still lemonade…but it’s so sweet. So think outside the box and get inside a jar this holiday season. If you’ve signed up to make salad for the party, buy some small mason jars, find out how many people will be there and make individual salads people can grab and munch on before dinner. If you’re making a desert, how adorable would a holiday cake look served in a jar? Not only will you feel fabulous as you arrive to the party, but you’ll also save yourself the mess of bringing home dishes or trying to track down your bowls days later. Let the hostess or guests keep their jars to use again. Mess-free, stress-free serving.
Many big box retailers and websites offer items to make transporting your holiday meals easier; you can order a casserole carrier, deviled egg container or the awesome Rachel Ray Foodtastic Party Box. When you don’t want to deal with the hassle of packing your meal just right to ensure it makes to the destination safely, items like these are great bets and aren’t too costly.
12 Days of Christmas Gifts Giveaway code word: Decorations