Helpful Winter Holiday Food Preparation, Safety & Healthy Eating

Christmas Holiday table

(Photo modified from Celeste Lindell  / / CC license)

Questions or comments about this page? Email Alice Henneman, MS, RDN

Need an ingredient substitution, an answer to a baking or other food preparation question, advice on preparing foods ahead? Healthy food ideas for the holidays? Help can be just a click away. Here are some helpful holiday links. Look for highlighted links that are also available En Español

Quick links to specific sections

  1. Preparing foods ahead
  2. Ingredient substitutions and cooking terms
  3. Cooking and menu planning helps
  4. Holiday food safety
  5. Healthy holiday cooking and eating
  6. Homemade holiday gifts
  7. Sending food gifts to the military
  8. Making the most of your food basket donations
  9. Holiday Pinterest Board

Preparing foods ahead

  1. Freezing Prepared foods (includes cakes, pies, casseroles, etc. Source: University of Georgia Extension Service) pdf

    cookie sheet
  2. Freezing Convenience Foods that You've Prepared at Home (includes various baked goods as well as other menu items. Source: Pacific Northwest Extension Publication) pdf

  3. Freezing Cooked Food for Future Meals: Freezer Bag tips
  4. Get out of the Kitchen When Company's Coming: Cook Ahead
  5. Food Safety Checklist for "Planned-over" Foods (PDF) Save time by making extra food for one meal that still tastes good and is safe to eat at a later meal.

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Ingredient substitutions and cooking terms

  1. Ingredient Substitutions
    3 teaspoons of different types of sugarIf you're in the middle of holiday cooking with no time to run to the store for a missing ingredient, look here for a possible substitute. Includes a handy print-friendly chart.
  2. Healthy Dietary Substitutions for Holiday Recipes pdf
    Easy substitions to bump up the nutrition and decrease the fat, calories, and sodium in your recipes.
  3. The Cook's Thesaursaus
    This site covers thousands of ingredients and suggested substitutions.

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Cooking and menu planning helps

  1. Cooking Basics: Food Yields (PDF) woman reading cookbook
    Use this handout from the University of Georgia Extension to help you determine how much food to buy.
  2. Can Size Equivalents
    If you have an older recipe that calls for a "number 2 can" or a similar description, visit this link.
  3. Measurement Conversions for Recipes (Source: Clemson Cooperative Extension)
    Check here if you're trying to adjust the measurements in a recipe from teaspoons to tablespoons to cups to quarts and so on.
  4. Temperature Conversion: Fahrenheit and Celsius
    Helps you convert recipes from fahrenheit to celsius and vice versa.

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Holiday food safety

  1. Food Safety for Familiesfight bac image warning about raw cookie dough
    Use the following tips to keep your family and friends from becoming sick. Don't let bacteria (germs) crash your holiday parties.
  2. Using Up Food in the Refrigerator before Leaving Town
    Tips and recipes to avoid food wastes.
  3. How to Tell if Your Freezer Power Was Off when You Were Away
    Learn a simple, no-cost way to to detect if your power went off when you were gone.
  4. Classic Cooked Eggnog  (Source: American Egg Board)
    Many older classic holiday recipes call for raw eggs. This cooking practice is not considered safe because of possible Salmonella infection. Check this link to the American Egg Board for a cooked version of eggnog. Another option for egg nog is to buy a ready-to-drink egg nog, available in the dairy case at most stores during the holidays.
  5. Canning Cakes and Breads (Source: University of Georgia Extension)
    Learn why this can be unsafe!
  6. Holiday or Party Buffets (Source USDA)
    Web page Link  | PDF En Español 
  7. Brilliant Buffets (Source:
  8. Mail Order Food Safety | PDF | En Español | En Español PDF (Source: USDA)
  9. Meat Preparation and Safety
  10. Slow Cookers and Food Safety | PDF | En Español | En Español PDF ( Source: USDA)
  11. Toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline
    The hotline is staffed with food safety specialists to answer food safety questions for the home cook. You may speak with a food safety specialist — in English or Spanish — from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays.

    Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at:
    Or send an Email to:
  12. No-Show Guests Jeopardize Food | PDF (source: USDA)
    When guests encounter emergencies and the meal must be delayed or cancelled, food must be handled "just right" to remain safe.
  13. Traveling with Food
  14. Holiday Food Safety (video)

→Click HERE to view the video  En Español

Healthy holiday cooking and eating

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Homemade Holiday Gifts 

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Sending food gifts to the military

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Making the most of your food basket donationsbasket

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Holiday Pinterest Board

Follow Amy Peterson's board Happy Healthy Holidays on Pinterest.