The Holidays are here! That means you’ll be spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking special treats for your family and friends. Now, cooking for loved ones at any time is certainly fulfilling, but more so during this time of festivity, love, and positivity. There’s no denying, though, that all that prepping and cooking and cleaning can be tiring, which is why your time in the kitchen must be approached in a highly organized manner. So, to help you in that regard here's a list of meal organization tips that'll make food preparation easier and less time- and effort-consuming. In this way, you'll get to enjoy being in the kitchen and preparing lots of mouth-watering food.

Plan beforehand

The first step towards highly organized holiday meal prepping is to have a plan in place — ideally, days or even weeks ahead. As The Spruce Eats notes, taking 20−30 minutes prior to the big day "will save you a lot of stress later." So, get your paper and pen ready and start thinking about what to serve, when to go shopping, and what advanced preparations you can do. In this way, you'll have some semblance of control, and you'll know exactly what to do and what to buy.

Decide on the menu

As Christmas draws closer, you'll need to finalize the menu. By doing so, you can then prepare (or research) the recipes and buy all the ingredients needed. This also gives you time to write or print out said recipes and compile them for easy retrieval later on. Having said that, don't be shy settling for simple dishes, or at least those you are familiar with, so you won't have to figure things out on the fly. A great example is the Better Batter-approved tart cherry pie filling, which has 7 ingredients only and can be prepared in just 10 minutes.

Buy pre-cut and prewashed

You want to reduce the amount of work you do in the kitchen, so that you'll spend less time and energy there during the Holidays. A great way to do this is by buying pre-cut and prewashed fruits and veggies. You can use the pre-cut fruits to easily prepare a healthy and hearty fruit platter as an appetizer, then use the pre-cut and prewashed veggies as called for in your recipes. They're a bit pricier, but the time and energy they'll save you is worth it.

Leverage your kitchen appliances

You'll need to maximize the kitchen appliances you have since they can help you in preparing those delicious treats. One that is guaranteed to make things easier is the humble rice cooker. That’s because the modern rice cooker is so versatile that you can use it to cook a variety of food. The Cuckoo rice cooker, in particular, is highly advanced, with a load of features, like induction heating, that make cooking easy and convenient. It even has automated control systems, which means you can set up the cooking settings and let the rice cooker be, thereby freeing you up to do other things. The same is true for the instant pot — something registered dietitian Dana Angelo White keeps nearby when cooking holiday meals since it can be used to cook healthy meals, such as spiced cider and mashed potatoes. And just like in a rice cooker, you can just put the ingredients in an instant pot and wait for the food to cook.

Do a final check of the kitchen

The last thing you'd want is to have a piece of equipment go missing or for a kitchen appliance to malfunction. The way to avoid such situations is to check everything out two to three days before the big day. Clean everything and make sure they're working. Make sure, too, that all the kitchen tools and equipment are available and placed where they're accessible. In doing this final check, you're ensuring a hitch-free time in the kitchen where everything you need is working fine and readily accessible. It is true that cooking for the Holidays can be taxing. But, again, it is very fulfilling, as you're doing it for the people you love. And if you follow the above tips, your time in the kitchen at this most special time of the year will be a lot more enjoyable and a little less demanding. Author: Tanya Albert Written exclusively for