A little prep work makes for a peaceful holiday

When it comes to food preparation for the holidays, your freezer is your best friend. Pies, rolls, quick breads and muffins, scones, biscuits, cookies, and cakes can all be prepared ahead­—fully, or in part—then frozen. Here’s a to-do list of make-ahead baked treats:

Bake cake layers or cupcakes, quick bread loaves, or muffins; wrap and freeze. Thaw at room temperature.

Prepare pie crust dough, shape into disks, and freeze. Or, roll bottom and top crusts, stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze flat. Thaw before using.

Fruit pies (apple, berry, etc.) can be prepared up to the point of baking, then frozen.

The dough for biscuits, scones, and cookies can be made ahead, shaped, frozen on baking sheets, and then stored in plastic bags in the freezer. Bake right from the freezer, adding a minute or two to the baking time.

Prepare the yeast dough for dinner rolls. Immediately shape it into rolls, wrap (without rising), and freeze. Thaw, let rise, bake. Unbaked dinner rolls have a shorter shelf life in the freezer than other types of baked goods.

Bake yeast bread or cornbread for stuffing; wrap well and freeze. Thaw before using.

Hang in there! Here are a few more holiday meal survival tips:

Shop for ingredients ahead of time (including canned pumpkin), to take advantage of pre-holiday sales and availability.

Choose your recipes early—test bake any new ones.

Make yourself a food prep timeline for the week before, listing everything you are going to make, and when.

Break dishes down into easier make-ahead steps whenever possible.

Assess your refrigerator space; be aware of the size of bowls and containers you are using for preparing items and make space in your refrigerator for when guests bring items that also need refrigerator space.

Test your oven temperature. A free-standing oven thermometer is a good device to have when you question the temperature of your oven.

You can do it. Have a food safe and happy holiday.