Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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It’s time for the big game EVENT!- Tuesday, January 27, 2015

As has often been said, the Super Bowl long ago stopped being just a game and is now a bigger-than-life event. Many of my friends are trying hard to shed those 5 – 10 extra pounds we picked up over the holidays and going to a Super bowl party is not at all what the doctor ordered.  After doing a little research we discovered some useful tips to help you still have fun this Sunday without blowing your diet. We found this article (written by Rachel Sturtz) on the Fitness Magazine website:
 
Fattening snacks like buffalo wings, potato skins, and chips (and don't forget beer!) make Super Bowl parties a challenge when you're dieting. Here are a few healthy tips so you can enjoy the game without gaining a pound.
 
Kick off with fiber
Place mugs of turkey chili (use extra-lean ground meat) on the first table that guests see as they walk into the room. This filling snack will set the stage for a healthy evening.
 
Intercept fatty snacks
Put buffalo wings out of arm's reach. They're almost always cooked with the skin on, but you can slash fat and calories a bit by baking instead of frying.
 
Tackle cravings
Toss a 3-ounce package of microwave popcorn with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes for a sweet-and-spicy snack with about 15 calories per handful.
 
Pass on big portions
It's easy to overdo chips and guacamole. Put 6 tablespoons of guac into ramekins with baskets of about 30 chips on side tables. This is the perfect amount for two people to share.
 
Take an alcohol time-out
Save calories by stocking an easily accessible cooler with non-booze beverages like diet soda and sparkling and bottled water. Leave the beer in the kitchen so you have to travel to get it.

Announcing our first wave of educational food and beverage classes for 2015!- Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A few weeks back I shared with you that we always appreciate customer feedback and I encouraged your comments and suggestions. My thanks to those of you who responded either via an email to our website or a phone call, or a personal visit when in the store.

In short, you gave us some great ideas and we are making plans now to deliver on a number of those requests. Generally speaking, we heard from several customers who have attended either a cooking class or a beer or wine class in the past who wanted more classes to be offered this year. While our plans are not yet finalized, here is a sample of the classes we are working on for winter and spring:

  • Valentines chocolate and beer event –you can put this one on your calendar as we have settled on the date and sponsors. Thursday 2/12 at 6:00 pm, plan on joining us for an evening of divine treats and refreshing craft beers from one of our favorite local breweries. From Kohler, WI, we will be host to Martha Ernst of the Kohler Chocolates. Looking for a reason to come? Check out their web site and start drooling. http://www.kohlerchocolates.com.

    Continuing on the theme of fine chocolates we are pleased to announce that we recently were introduced to Kevin Roblee, a local chocolatier. Kevin will tempt and amaze you with his delicious concoctions, and he will be using his knowledge of chocolate and wine for some unique paring ideas.

    No one will go home thirsty that evening if Eric Hobbs and Tom Korder of Penrose Brewing Company of Geneva, IL, have anything to say about it. They will be sending us a good selection of seasonal Belgian-style Ales to sample and sell.

    Other events in the works:

  • Fruits & Vegetables worth a second look – a class designed to introduce you to a set of fruits and vegetables that you may know little about -- and most likely don’t know how to prepare.

  • Mead – man’s oldest form of alcoholic beverage.

  • Crock pot cooking

  • Red Blends – the hottest trend in wine enjoyment

That’s just a sampling of what’s coming. Be certain to watch your email and our Facebook & Twitter pages in the upcoming weeks as we finalize details on these and other informational food and beverage classes. We look forward to seeing you in attendance.

 

- Andy

Americans love their bananas- Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today we thought we would share some information about the most popular fruit in the US based on tons sold, the banana.  As it turns out, our bananas are all imported because we simply don’t have the type of climate conducive to their growth.

We’ve all seen pictures of bananas growing in large bunches, hanging high up in tall, slender banana trees, haven't we? Actually, that was a trick question.  Bananas don’t grow from trees. The banana plant is not a tree, it is actually the world's largest herb! 

The true origin of bananas is found in the region of Malaysia. By way of curious visitors, bananas traveled from there to India where they are mentioned in Buddhist Pali writings dating back to the 6th century BCE. In his campaign in India in 327 BCE, Alexander the Great relished his first taste of the banana, an usual fruit he saw growing on tall “trees”.  He is even credited with bringing the banana from India to the Western world. 

The first bananas arrived in our country wrapped in tin foil. They were sold for 10 cents each at a celebration held in Pennsylvania in 1876 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Bananas are grown today in almost every humid tropical region and constitute the 4th largest fruit crop in the world. The plant needs 10 - 15 months of frost-free conditions to produce a flower stalk. All but the hardiest varieties stop growing when the temperature drops below 53° F. Growth of the plant also begins to slow down at about 80° F, and it stops entirely when the temperature reaches 100° F. High temperatures and bright sunlight will also scorch leaves and fruit, although bananas grow best in full sun.

Since we simply don’t have these climate conditions anywhere in the US (except for Hawaii), we need to rely entirely on importation to get our bananas. The United States is the single largest importer of bananas; we consume more than one in every four bananas sold. Almost all of the bananas sold in the US are brought from countries in central and south America, such as Columbia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, and Guatemala.

Nutritional Facts about Bananas
Because of their impressive potassium content, bananas are highly recommended by doctors for patients whose potassium is low. One large banana, about 9 inches in length, packs 602 mg of potassium and only carries 140 calories. That same large banana even has 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Those reducing sodium in their diets can't go wrong with a banana with its mere 2 mgs of sodium. For the carbohydrate counters, there are 36 grams of carbs in a large banana.

Vitamins and minerals are abundant in the banana, offering 123 I.U. of vitamin A for the large size. A full range of B vitamins are present with .07 mg of Thiamine, .15 mg of Riboflavin, .82 mg Niacin, .88 mg vitamin B6, and 29 mcg of Folic Acid. There are even 13.8 mg of vitamin C. On the mineral scale, Calcium counts in at 9.2 mg with Magnesium at 44.1 mg. There are also trace amounts of iron and zinc.

Now that you know a little more about our favorite fruit, perhaps you would like to try a new way of enjoying bananas?

Enjoy our collection of over 175 banana recipes.

 

 

Do you suffer from Roast-a-phobia?- Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Does the thought of buying, preparing, cooking and carving a large chunk of raw beef, pork or poultry send shivers up your spine?  Well if it’s any consolation, you are not alone.  For so many of our customers, especially our younger shoppers who tend to shop only for themselves or for two, the need to cook large roasts comes up infrequently and is avoided if possible. Unlike home cooks raised in previous generations, you most likely had little or no training while living at home... Want some help overcoming your fear of the roast? 


Start by asking questions and getting advice from others. Start with your Prisco meat department and friends or relatives who have faced the three headed monster “roast” and come out victorious.  Two things that give you a bit of an advantage today that mom didn’t have are the Food Network and the Internet, both great sources of reliable information available pretty much 24/7.


Getting started, you will need a few critical pieces of equipment (listed in order of importance):


1. An oven: If you've been using this as storage, remove all occupants and see if you can turn on the oven. If not, skip the rest of this and call for take-out.


2. A roasting pan: You can substitute the broiler pan that probably came with your oven with a big Dutch oven or cast iron pan. Size will dictate what you can cook.


3. An instant-read thermometer: This will insure that everything you cook comes out fine. Too often people want to skip this and say “who needs a thermometer? I’ll just cook it as long as the recipe calls for."  Far too many expensive roasts have been ruined for lack of using a meat thermometer.  Ovens are not all alike and there are hot and not-so-hot spots in any oven.  We offer them for sale in our store and for less than $10 you can have as good a tool as the best chefs use.


4. A good piece of meat: A whole bird (chicken, duck, or turkey), a beef or pork roast, etc.  When choosing your first victim, know something about the cut of meat and plan accordingly.  Different cuts are priced differently and need to be prepared and cooked differently or they will simply turn out uneatable.  


5. Spices: Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are a good start. A good sea salt is the next step up. Garlic is always good and if you have fresh herbs or a favorite spice mix/rub use it!


6. A rack, preferably a V-shaped rack. Helps heat get everywhere evenly and gives the meat juices a place to gather for making delicious gravy to enjoy with the meat and accompanying side dishes.


7. Oven mitts & apron (white hat optional): That oven is going to be hot and things can get messy.  A Dr. doesn’t go into the OR without her scrubs or a fire person to a fire without a helmet, coat, boots, and fire pants with suspenders.  Be prepared and dress the part.


8. A baster and/or a brush: Mom wasn’t opening the oven door just to see if the pork roast was still in there.  Your roast needs a little help on its way to becoming delicious.


9. Olive oil, butter or melted butter: Moisture and even cooking are critical to the success of venture.   


10. A timer: Doesn't matter if it's on your stove or smart phone, just make sure it's loud enough that you can hear it.

The act of cooking your roast or bird


• Remove the meat from the fridge and open the package.  Note the weight as this is critical to the amount of time needed to correctly coot the meat.  Refer to a cookbook or to our Prisco’s website recipe tab for a recipe corresponding to the meat that you are preparing to cook.


• Make sure oven racks are in the middle of the oven and you have enough room for the roasting pan and its contents. If not, lower the rack until you do. If you are cooking a bone-in roast there is no need for a rack as the bone will act as your rack.  Preheat the oven to 350° (250° if you're doing duck).


• While the oven is heating, pat the meat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper liberally (i.e. use more than you think), inside and out.  This helps bring out the meat’s natural flavor.


• If you're using a rack or just the top layer of that broiler pan (the one with the holes) you might want to give it a quick spray of Pam or a light rub of olive oil (makes clean-up easier).


• Place your meat on the pan and put it in the oven. The length of time your meat will need to cook depends on the size of your roast and how well cooked you like your meat. This is where the instant-read thermometer will save the day! Click here for a handy chart and remember to always stick the thermometer in the thickest part of your roast (for chicken it's the thigh).


• When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This is not about torturing you or your guests, it's about letting the juices re-circulate, making the meat tender and juicy.


• Carve, serve and enjoy!


I’ll leave it at that as carving meat is another topic entirely, but as I said earlier advice is always available on the internet to help if necessary.


Good Cooking


Margaret Prisco – Meat Manager

Let’s have a Food fight – One that fights the flu that is.- Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In his book  "101 Foods That Could Save Your Life", author Dave Grotto reveals ten foods that provide top doses of the vitamins and nutrients you need to protect and defend against illness. You see, building up our body’s immune system is one of the best ways to ward off the nasty flu bugs.  As you plan your families’ meals in this unhealthy flu season, why not make a point of adding in plenty of the following flu-busters for good measure?  There is, of course, no guarantee that this will stave off any chance of getting sick, but it certainly won’t hurt -- and, by gosh, these foods taste great as well!

Mushrooms
Mushrooms used to get overlooked as a health food, but they possess two big weapons you need this flu season: selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines that clear sickness, and beta glucan, an antimicrobial type of fiber, which helps activate "superhero" cells that find and destroy infections.

Fresh garlic
Strong smelling foods like garlic can stink out sickness thanks to the phytochemical allicin, an antimicrobial compound. A British study found that people taking allicin supplements suffered 46 percent fewer colds and recovered faster from the ones they did get. So start cooking with it daily -- experts recommend two fresh cloves a day.

Wild-caught salmon
In a recent study, participants with the lowest levels of vitamin D were about 40 percent more likely to report a recent respiratory infection than those with higher levels of vitamin D. Increase your intake with salmon; a 3.5-ounce serving provides 360 IU. Some experts recommend as much as 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D each day.

Tea
Researchers at Harvard University found that drinking five cups of black tea a day quadrupled the body's immune defense system after two weeks, probably because of theanine. Tea also contains catechins, including ECGC, which act like a cleanup crew against free radicals. Grotto suggests drinking one to three cups of black, green, or white tea every day.

Yogurt
The digestive tract is one of your biggest immune organs, so keep disease-causing germs out with probiotics and prebiotics, found in naturally fermented foods like yogurt. One serving a day labeled with "live and active cultures" will enhance immune function according to a study from the University of Vienna in Austria.

Dark chocolate
Nutrition experts agree that dark chocolate deserves a place in healthy diets, and a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition says it can boost your immunity, too. High doses of cocoa support T-helper cells, which increase the immune system's ability to defend against infection. Sweet!

Oysters
Zinc is critical for the immune system -- it rallies the troops, or white blood cells, to attack bacteria and viruses like a flu or cold. One medium oyster provides nearly all of the zinc you need for a day.

Almonds
Heart-healthy almonds boast the immune-boosting antioxidant vitamin E, which, according to researchers at Tufts University, can reduce your chance of catching colds and developing respiratory infections. You'll need more than a serving of almonds for your daily dose, though, so try fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, turnip greens and wheat germ, too.

Strawberries
Even though vitamin C-rich foods (hello oranges!) are probably the first thing you think of when you feel a cold coming, Grotto says the illness-preventing power of the antioxidant is debatable. That said, some studies show it can reduce the intensity and duration of the cold and flu, so it's worth a try. One cup of strawberries provides 160 percent of your daily needs.

Sweet potato
Beta-carotene improves your body's defenses. It's instrumental in the growth and development of immune system cells and helps neutralize harmful toxins. Sweet potatoes and other orange foods like carrots, squash, pumpkin, egg yolks, and cantaloupe are top sources.

Let Fresh Produce Help You Shed the Holiday Bulge- Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weight loss is by no means a mystery: simply burn more calories with work and exercise than the amount you consume daily in food and you will lose weight. Sounds so simple but yet we all know just how hard it can be. You can create lower-calorie versions of some of your favorite dishes by substituting low-calorie fruits and vegetables in place of higher-calorie ingredients. The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables will add volume to your dishes, so you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

Looking for some simple ways to make this work? Try these simple substitutions throughput the day and you can definitely eat less calories without ever feeling hungry, or like you are missing something:

At Breakfast

  • Substitute some spinach, onions, or mushrooms for one of the eggs or half of the cheese in your morning omelet. The vegetables will add volume and flavor to the dish with fewer calories than the egg or cheese.
  • Cut back on the amount of cereal in your bowl to make room for some cut-up bananas, peaches, or strawberries. You can still eat a full bowl, but with fewer calories. Substitute a lower butterfat milk type and save calories as well. Rather than 2% use 1% milk.

For Lunch

  • Substitute vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or onions for 2 ounces of the cheese and 2 ounces of the meat in your sandwich, wrap, or burrito. Take out a slice of ham or cheese and substitute some lettuce or kale. The new version will fill you up with fewer calories than the original.
  • Add a cup of chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, beans, or red peppers, in place of 2 ounces of the meat or 1 cup of noodles in your favorite broth-based soup or chili. The vegetables will help fill you up, so you won't miss those extra calories.

Dinner

  • Add in 1 cup of chopped vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, squash, onions, or peppers, while removing 1 cup of the rice or pasta in your favorite dish. The dish with the vegetables will be just as satisfying but will have fewer calories than the same amount of the original version.
  • Take a good look at your dinner plate. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains should take up the largest portion of your plate. If they do not, replace some of the meat, cheese, white pasta, or rice with legumes, steamed broccoli, asparagus, greens, or another favorite vegetable. This will reduce the total calories in your meal without reducing the amount of food you eat. Try to limit any meal to only one serving and no piece of meat should be bigger that a pack of playing cards. Also be certain that you use a normal- or small-size plate — not a platter.

 

Simple things like this are really not too hard to do and if done consistently and coupled with a modest amount of exercise will definitely allow you to shed that holiday bulge that popped up out of nowhere.

 Good luck,

 

Bill Vella

Prisco’s Family Market - Produce Manager

 

The importance of water for everyday health- Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Everyone knows that water is an important and basic necessity for life: There is no more essential nutrient for our bodies than water. In fact, no other substance is as widely involved in the processes and makeup of the body...To put an even finer point on it, you can go weeks without food but only 5-7 days without water!

The body cannot store water and must have fresh supplies every day to perform virtually every metabolic process. "Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day," says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health. When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp.

Four reasons to drink more water

Drinking water is necessary for proper fluid balance. Your body is composed of about 50-60% water, depending on your gender. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. When you're low on fluids, the brain triggers the body's thirst mechanism. And unless you are taking medications that make you thirsty, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee -- anything but alcohol.

Water is necessary for healthy skin. Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Skin is made up of three layers -- the outer layer (epidermis), the underlying skin (dermis) and the subcutaneous fat tissue. If the outermost layer of the epidermis doesn't contain enough water, skin will lose elasticity and feel rough.

Water can help you lose weight and feel slimmer. Many diets encourage the consumption of water not just for hydration reasons, but because consuming water can help control hunger by making you feel fuller. Also, while water doesn't have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help when your goal is to lose weight. Lastly, when the body is dehydrated, it compensates by retaining water, causing you to look and feel bloated and puffy. The best way to reduce puffiness is by regularly drinking water!

More water leads to increased energy levels and affects mood. The most common cause of fatigue and even mood swings is actually mild dehydration. A decrease in bodily fluids affects cognition, concentration and the general ability to think clearly and control mood. Researchers from the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory found that even mild dehydration affects a person’s mood, and can alter their energy levels and mental function.

Tips for increasing your water intake

[Info courtesy of health.usnews.com]

Make it a goal to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Also, try to drink a glass of water before and during every meal. Not only will this help prevent overeating, it will also jump start your metabolism, which in turn results in more calories burned throughout the day. When you want to inhale that bag of crispy, salty potato chips, pound water instead. You'll likely realize you were simply thirsty.

Infuse your water with flavor. Some people dislike the taste of water (usually due to the chemicals infused in it), or find it boring and unsatisying. Try adding a little fruit juice (lemon, lime or orange are good candidates), cucumber, or fresh herbs and other flavors to your water to make it more appealing. Drinking different types of non-caffeinated tea is another great way to fulfill your hydration needs while also treating your tongue to interesting flavors.

Make sure you always have water on hand. To make drinking more water more convenient, keep water bottles everywhere you're likely to go: In your car, at your desk, in your gym bag and all over your house. If the water is readily available you are more likely to drink it.

Tags :  water health
2015 is about to arrive and I, for one, am very much looking forward to it!- Saturday, December 27, 2014

It has been a wonderfully hectic holiday season and it has been so rewarding to see all the loyal families who have supported our store for years, and in many cases over generations. In addition to that, however, we are starting to see lots of new faces each week as new shoppers are discovering our store for the first time. The feedback we have been receiving from comments in the store, on our website and on social media pages has been most encouraging, and it’s been gratifying to realize that you are recognizing many of the things we have recently introduced as being positive additions while not losing any of the old fashioned charm and customer service Prisco’s has been proud of for almost 90 years now.

I’m excited about the future of the Prisco Family Market and I know that I made the correct decision to take an active role in the business and help transition it eventually from the third generation to the fourth. Working side-by-side with my mom, sisters, uncle and aunts has been a very rewarding and valuable experience -- one that I’d never be able to experience out in the corporate world.

Blending the third and fourth generations along with occasional input from my retired Grandpa Tony has worked well from a number of perspectives. It has given me a solid understanding of what it takes to be a business that is also a community leader, one that is grounded in fair labor practices, offering only the finest, freshest food to customers, and always with a healthy dose of great customer service and a friendly smile. At the same time the older generation has embraced things that my sisters and I have introduced to the business, like becoming the craft beer capital of the westerns suburbs, the home to a wide array of gourmet cheese offerings that my Grandparents would never have believed could be sold in a grocery store, and the notion of social media and electronic coupons.

Please stay tuned and pay close attention because after the calendar page turns and the holidays are behind us for this year, I’m going to be rolling up my sleeves and to start working on several new concepts and product launches. I can tell you that things will be changing at Prisco’s Family Market in 2015, but have no fear: the only changes will be improvements. We plan to add lots of new products, especially locally made, healthy and sustainable food items, and we plan to expand the variety of items we carry and promote. We also want to expand educational food and beverage related programs like the ever popular cooking classes that Prisco’s has been famous for over the years. As a store team we have lots of ideas of things we want to at least consider trying, but it would be great to hear from you, our loyal shoppers. What types of products or new services have you seen offered elsewhere that you would appreciate having available at your favorite local food market? My Uncle Rob and I and other key members of the staff would really appreciate your feedback, so don’t be bashful: tell us what is on your mind and what you would like to see us do to make your shopping for groceries easier, and your choice of where to shop a no-brainer.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Andy Guzauskas – General Manager – Prisco’s Family Market

Tags :  New Year
Something worth serious consideration in 2015.- Saturday, December 27, 2014

[Info courtesy of webmd, healthyeating.sfgate.com, fitday.com & livestrong.com]

Salt is a very common seasoning in most foods; in fact, here in America, we pretty much take it for granted. Just about every pre-made or pre-packaged and/or processed food item contains some salt, with a number of very common -- and commonly used -- foods and ingredients containing it large quantities. Soups, broths and gravies, soy and other sauces, salad dressings, bacon and other cured meats, cheese, a huge variety of snack foods such as pretzels and popcorn, and pickled foods all boast unusually high salt content. To be precise, it's not the salt in and of itself that is the problem: it's the sodium component of salt. Salt is sodium plus chloride. Both are minerals. Salt is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride and it's that 40% that causes so much concern among modern doctors.

Of course, the human body requires some salt. Sodium is an essential nutrient required by the body for maintaining levels of fluids and for providing channels for nerve signaling. However, many people consume many times their recommended daily allowance of 1.5 grams per day.Too much salt can have a negative impact on the body, resulting in anything from hypernatremia, or an imbalance of the amounts of salt and water in the body, in the short term, and increased blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis in the long term.

How to reduce your intake of salt/sodium

[info courtesy of kidney.org]

There are a number of ways you can reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, including the following --

  • Use fresh, rather than packaged, meats. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken or pork contain natural sodium, but the content is still much less than the hidden extra sodium added during processing in products like bacon or ham. If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, that's a tip off that the sodium content is too high.
  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables as well, since they are very low in sodium. Canned and frozen fruits are also low in sodium.
  • When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labeled "fresh frozen" and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
  • Begin reading food labels as a matter of course. Sodium content is always listed on the label. Sometimes the high sugar content in a product like apple pie can mask the high sodium content so it's important to check every label for sodium content.
  • Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content, since this will vary from brand to brand.
  • Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels, i.e. choose garlic powder over garlic salt.

 

Tags :  salt health sodium
A few simple tips to make your Christmas dinner party memorable and enjoyable for all.- Friday, December 19, 2014

1. Plan ahead - Be careful not to choose too many dishes that need a lot of last-minute attention. Put some thought into planning your menu. It is better to prepare a few different dishes well rather than to spread yourself too thin. Quality over quantity!

2. Pre-order Christmas meat - Christmas is a busy time of year and you don’t want to be caught short with limited choices. Call our meat department (630) 264-9401 several days ahead of time to order your beef roast, ham, pork roast, or turkey.

3. Remember your non-meat eating guests – Be certain to have a number of non-meat and non-dairy options available to satisfy the needs of your vegan and vegetarian guests.

4. Get creative with your Christmas table - One way to add color and personal touches is with napkins - and you don't need to be an expert napkin-folder. Simply roll napkins and wrap with contrasting ribbon in satin, velvet, lace, sequined elastic, or brightly colored wool. Visit craft or fabric stores to find something unique. For a final touch, add a sprig of holly, bells or candy canes.

5. Cook the day before - Prepare as many ingredients ahead of time as possible – desserts can usually be made the day before, and the same is true of several side dishes.

6. Enjoy the day - Remember, Christmas is a time to celebrate and have fun with family and friends. Pre-plan where you can, stick to your budget, get everyone involved and make this the best Christmas ever!