Common Cooking Mistakes You Make When Preparing for Christmas

Don't let the holiday cooking stress you out!

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Do you have a gameplan for Christmas Eve dinner? How about for the New Year's Eve meal that lies not too far off, too? Not to stress you out, but if you're having the family sit down for either dinner event, you need to prepare something even if it's just ham and rice on the menu. 

We have ideas on how to make it so that it's an affordable Noche Buena that should be within your budget. We can even show you that you can make an intimate 4-course Christmas Eve dinner for two in under 3 hours. We even have holiday cookie baking tips so should you want to have and share cookies this holiday season, you are prepared for that, too. 

However, while these all sound like plans, you are bound to miss something in your preparation. Here are common mistakes you might make when preparing for either of these holiday dinner meals:      

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1 You forgot to defrost the meat for the main course. 

Whether it's chicken, beef, pork, or even a gorgeous cut of salmon that you want to turn into a baked salmon ala Conti's, you need to have that cut of meat ready to cook with enough time for you to cook it.


Normally, you may need to at least let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator to defrost some pork chops to cook today. If you're handling anything that's a whole cut of meat, you might need more time than 8 hours to do it right.

Solution: The good news is that you can still thaw your meat in an hour up to a few hours if it's a big cut using this tip: submerge it in water. The trick is making sure that the meat is sealed in a watertight bag before plunging it underwater. While unnecessary, it may thaw faster if you replace the water once it's completely ice cold. Give it a good hour at least.


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2 You failed to marinate or brine the meat before cooking it. 

Failing to season your food right or even well is a big no-no in the culinary world. If your food doesn't taste good, it's not going to be a happy meal to eat. 

Solution: If you do forget to either marinate or brine the meat beforehand, you have two choices: season it now before you cook it or serve it with a flavorful gravy or sauce. By seasoning it immediately before you cook it, you will still get better flavor than if you cooked it without any seasoning at all. If you want to emphasize the flavor even more, make and serve it with a gravy that has the flavors you wanted it to have.   

Photo by Charlie Altomonte

3 You forgot to chill the cream. 

All-purpose cream doesn't always need to be chilled to be used in your dessert recipes. However, if you do need to whip it until light and airy or just need it to be cold, you can't work with it if you forgot to do that last night.

Solution: You can chill it fast and easy by chilling the bowl, the whisk, and any other equipment you'll be using. You can also place the chilled bowl over a bigger bowl full of ice-cold water, too. When you start whisking, the chilled equipment will cool and chill the cream while you whisk. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

4 You are preparing more dishes that you can make in one day.

It's not every day that you prepare a six-course meal. However, while it's great that you want to make this Christmas dinner special, you don't have to overdo it. There are ways of making an easy 6-course meal, but it can be just as satisfying and delicious with fewer courses. 

Solution: Cut your menu down to a manageable number of dishes or make easier-to-make dishes. Do you need to make both a chicken galantina as well as a beef wellington when you can just have one? Your soup, too, can be a simple and speedy but super flavorful seafood soup instead.

Photo by Patrick Martires

5 You don't recruit family and roommates. 

You can become super overwhelmed by all the things you need to do on the day itself that you might not think you need help. You can have planned everything down to the minute but some things can't be helped. In situations where you fall behind or think you might, you need to do more than just bear it. 

Solution: While refusing to acknowledge that you need help might be just your pride talking, you can ignore it just this once. It's the holiday season, so go enlist the help of family members (even the kids can help, too, with the smaller tasks!) or even your roommates to help you prepare better for the dinner feast you'll have. You'll find that you will enjoy the evening better, and be less stressed about the meal if you delegate the tasks. You can then focus on what's more important: getting the meal ready on time. 



Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here!

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