Holiday cooking is no easy feat. Meals tend to be more time-consuming and complex to prepare than standard fare.

But by planning ahead, you can make all those delicious meals and treats in record time without undue stress.

Stock Up Early

Donít leave your grocery shopping for the last minute. The stores will be overrun with other eleventh hour shoppers.

The first thing you should do is to plan your menu in advance. Then take inventory of your fridge and pantry, and compose a detailed shopping list accordingly.

When youíre crunching on time, the last thing youíll want to do is run to the store because you forgot that crucial ingredient.††

Beef Up Your Kitchen

Be sure your kitchen is well-stocked with the right tools to ensure proper execution of all those tasty holiday treats. Be sure your knives are sharpened and ready for the onslaught of meal prep. An extra set or two of measuring spoons and mixing bowls is also a great idea when youíre making so many dishes at once.

You probably already have a food processor or traditional blender, but adding a hand-held immersion blender to your kitchen tool box will aid you in quick preparation of pureed soups, sauces and homemade whipped cream.

The wrong gear can ruin a great recipe. Many holiday recipes call for zesting to add flavor and garnish to cookies, cakes, pies and drinks.

If youíre trying to zest with a peeler or poor-quality zester, you may be adding the bitter pith of citrus fruits to an otherwise delicious treat. Opt for a zester with v-shaped teeth that skim across the surface of citrus. For example, the Edgeware Better Zester has non-stick coating, ensuring smooth zesting and easy clean up. It also features a container with measurements, and a non-slip end piece for stability, so you can easily and comfortably follow your recipes accurately. More information on proper zesting can be found at

Cook and Bake Ahead

Not every kitchen task needs to happen on the day of your festivities. Lighten your load by prepping what you can beforehand. Bake cookies, brownies and breads in advance and store in the freezer with wax paper or an airtight container. Just be sure to let them cool to room temperature before storing. A sauceís flavor improves with time, so prep your sauces a day in advance.

Dice vegetables for side dishes ahead of time and store in plastic baggies in the fridge. Make a salad the day before and dress just before serving.†

Donít let the joys of holiday entertaining be a cause for sorrow. Streamline your meal preparation with a little planning.† †