The Xmas Plan
Having a Xmas plan will help the whole family come together and decide what’s what in the kitchen, and even get you excited over cooking a new dish or two! Not only that, it’s good to know where you’ll be on what days of the holiday and how precisely how many Brussel sprouts to buy. Joking aside, having a general plan of what you’ll be eating and drinking will help reduce any anxiety, particularly if you haven’t hosted a family occasion like Christmas before.
The trick to a great Christmas meal is all in the timing. So, if you know when to put things into a hot oven or start boiling water, it will help all concerned. Remember to allow time for letting meats rest while you endeavour to get your broccoli cooked with that bright green tinge that’s so satisfying!
The Shopping List
It sounds blindingly obvious doesn’t it, but making a full shopping list is actually a real help when you may be distracted with end of year work deadlines or kids subtly reminding you of some hideously over-priced game console or trending trainers!
So, avoid the “darling, I thought you’d bought the Brussel sprouts,” approach and put pen to paper! Ok, not necessarily paper but at least an easy-to-read list on your phone.
Our advice to make things easier is to write down your menu in order of play, meaning your nibbles, starters and main meal first. Then list everything, including extra cooking oil if necessary, in the order in which they are cooked. This can help to visualise what’s needed when writing down what appear to be really obvious entries.
One more tip, why not even put in brackets where or what shop you will purchase the ingredients from? These days this will probably include at least a few items you may need to order online. Happy shopping!
Keep it Simple
Once you have a plan, try and stick to it! There is no need to panic and buy foods, frozen or otherwise that will take up much-needed fridge space. If you decide to cook a turkey, then don’t buy a few chickens just in case. Just stick to the plan! The main aim is a delicious meal that satisfies all those invited.
If you have a vegetarian guest, then make something special that they can dig into, and that everyone else may enjoy too.
If you have a tight menu plan, then you can really avoid over-buying and wasting expensive fresh foods.
Practice Makes Perfect!
If you plan on braving it out by cooking something for the first time, then consider practising by cooking at least some, if not all, the dish before the pressure of Christmas hits.
Perhaps, try out a different way to roast your veggies with a honey glazing or similar. It’s tempting to cook goose or other posh poultry for the holiday season, but to avoid any disappointment try it out a month or so before you invite your guests!
Many Hands Make Light Work
One of the joys of Christmas is when the whole family pulls together and helps put on a bit of a show. Whether this is always the case, is highly debatable but whoever takes on the role of chef certainly deserves a bit of support. If your kids can help to chop some carrots or lay the table, it’s all good life experience. So, our advice is to give everyone a task, particularly on Christmas Day, and things will be a lot less tiring for Mum and Dad!
When we are full of anxiety and excitement, it is very easy to keep adding to the quantity of food that we make. Our best advice is that it is very important to get estimating precise quantities. If you think it’s enough to have five tender sprouts on a plate and have eight guests coming, then do your maths and stick to forty lovely green goodies, not a single more! The only disclaimer here is that ‘bubble and squeak’ just won't be the same without a few leftovers thrown in.
It’s Not Cheating
If you are not a budding chef and do not know your way around the kitchen then fear not! Forget any feelings of guilt and buy in a dessert or seasonal pastry, as no-one will care or, if you are slightly devious ever need to know! Mum’s the word. There are so many delicious options to help reduce your cooking duties, from traditional Christmas puddings to mince pies.
One of the great tricks of the “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” trade is by prepping as much as you can before the final hours of your feast. You can peel and chop all your vegetables and leave them covered in water in the pots you will cook them in. Some soups and starters can be made ahead of time, what better than just the need to heat up a nutritious bowl of a warming consommé or broth?
Or, why not make a classic sherry trifle the day before, you can always add the fresh whipped cream and hundreds and thousands just before serving!