Every year when the winter holidays roll around, the same problem arrives with it. How to prepare for all that cooking and cleaning before the guests arrive? Then once the big meal and festivities are done, what to do with all that left-over food? Because no matter how much any of us plan for the right amount of food, every cook does the same thing, over produces. Since the dread of the holidays is not having enough food on hand to take care of the planned guests, let alone the unexpected drop-ins, having a fridge that is bulging with left-overs can be a tricky problem to handle. But this is where we need to take a page from the professionals, and plan with an assortment of great tricks.

Plan Ahead

Unless you are a wizard in the kitchen, and I mean the kind who actually does magic, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cook everything you plan to serve for the holidays. This is when making a plan and cooking ahead makes sense. While the turkey may need to be popped into the oven on the day of the festivities, those pies and appetizers don’t. You can bake a pie or six as much as a week ahead, popped it into the freezer and just pull it out to heat up and finish baking while the family is having breakfast that morning. It can even bake along with the turkey if you have room in the oven. But planning ahead so that only the essentials are baked on the day of the event makes this a day you get to spend with family as well.

Wrap It Up

After the meal, when you have all picked over the carcass of the turkey and the favorite style of cranberries have disappeared, don’t leave that food sitting around for too long. Food poisoning happens all too easily when we leave hot food on a counter to cool that attract the wrong kind of guests. Wrap up that food and put it back into the freezer where you were storing all that food you baked and cooked ahead of time this week.

If you feel a bit daunted by the sheer volume of food to be wrapped up and stored, having an industrial strength machine like the commercial vacuum sealer you see at the local deli may be a great idea. Sometimes you can rent them just for the occasion. But even if you have to do it all by hand, get those left-over maple-glazed carrots and perfectly roasted yams into the freezer for dinner next week as soon as possible. If you don’t have enough room, here is a good solution for the entire process.

Rent a Freezer

Yup- you can rent a freezer for the holidays and use it to first store all the prep foods and then keep all your leftover goodies until you get a chance to eat them. It may seem like a bit of an indulgence but in the end you will be glad you did. Of course, if it seems too extravagant to rent a freezer, you could invite everyone you know for an after the holidays dinner to go through the leftovers. If you know any single folks who don’t have big family dinners to attend, they would be the perfect candidates. So rent a student or rent a freezer – either way your leftover problem is solved!