Christmas dinner in 7 simple steps
The pressure to create that perfect Christmas dinner can be massive. Social media makes you believe that unless you are creating sumptious starters, mouth-watering main dishes and delicous (and obviously home-made!) desserts, then you are a lesser being. I say sod Social media, sod other people and sod the bloody adverts – you do what makes YOU happy! If you enjoy cooking and love browsing recipes, then go for it. If you detest cooking and find it all too stressful, then don’t do it. Get someone else to host, go out for dinner or get ready meals! Christmas should be fun and should be about spending fun times with your family – not about getting stressed out making dinner.
If, like me, you enjoy cooking but enjoy hosting and socialising more, then make Christmas dinner as stress-free as possible by following these simple tips. They will help you to be organised, to avoid overspending on food over the festive period and to enjoy hosting Christmas.
If you feel yourself beginning to crack under the strain just remember:
Christmas dinner is simply a roast dinner with crackers!
Starting to plan your Christmas dinner
Research by Unilever has shown that Britons throw out leftover dinners equivalent to 263,000 turkeys 740,000 Christmas puddings and 17.2 million Brussels Sprouts. Figures show that we throw away nearly 10% of every Christmas dinner, adding up to a shocking £64 million of wasted food at Christmas.
Buying too much can often be caused by feeling under pressure to buy certain items. This pressure can come from friends, family, advertising or just expectation and tradition. I am sure we are all guilty of throwing out some food over Christmas, so taking time to think about foods that you commonly waste is a great way to save some money on your food shopping.
Another major part of saving money on your Christmas food shopping is planning in advance and these festive menu planners should help you to do this. Click on the links below the pictures to download the individual planners.
There is nothing better than being able to crack open the bubbly and enjoy it, knowing that your Christmas dinner is well prepared and will cause minimum hassle on the day itself.
What to eat?
Why spend money on things to you know will go to waste? Go against tradition—if nobody really likes Christmas pudding or mince pies, then think about cutting them out altogether.
In many places in the hospitality industry almost everything will be cooked the day before and reheated on Christmas day, so don’t put yourself under pressure by trying to cook it all fresh on Christmas Day. BBC Good Food have got some great ideas for easy to make recipes that can be made up to 1 month in advance.
Have a look at this brilliant, easy to follow list of ingredients for a Christmas Dinner.
Planning your shopping
Once you have decided what you are going to cook and eat it is time to plan your shopping— don’t forget to book your Christmas delivery slot if you are shopping online.
This fantastic portion planner can help you to decide how much of each item you need to buy.
Read this before buying your turkey—the results from research done by Money Saving Expert might just surprise you.
Comparing prices between supermarkets can save you a substantial amount with the price of Christmas dinner ranging from £2.48—£10.71 per person in various different research done this year.
Spreading the load
On one or two days per week in December, try to eat only out of the freezer or cupboards and start buying for Christmas with the money saved.
Don’t forget that the shops are often only shut for one day, so you really don’t need to throw in extra things “just in case”!
Ask your guests to bring something – in our family the host always does starters and mains, while the vistors bring desserts. Everyone is happy with this and it helps to spread the costs, as well as the preparation time.
If you have spent a bit of time planning your Christmas Dinner (remember the planners above) then you will find it much easier in the run up to the big day itself.
Make as many of the dishes as you can in the couple of weeks before Christmas and freeze them – just don’t forget to give them time to defrost. The same goes for the turkey – if you have a frozen one, remember that it will take 24-48 hours to defrost, depending on the size.
Christmas Eve is a great day for getting yourself organised (if you are fortunate enough to have the day off) Enlist as much help as you can – even little kids can help out with some of the tasks.
Prepare the vegetables and remember that many veg taste even better if you leave the skins on. My mum has told me this for years, but it has taken me many years to admit that she is right – I thought she was just being lazy! (Sorry mum!)
Doing as much of the cooking before or on Christmas Eve will help you to have the “messy” stuff out of the way before the big day. I used to always cook my turkey on Christmas Day, but for the last few years I have cooked it on Christmas Eve. It is so much easier, less stressful and nobody has noticed any difference in taste.
If possible, set the table and organise all your serving dishes and cutlery. The table decorations don’t need to cost a fortune. A gorgeous table runner can brighten up the simplest white tablecloth.
Clear some space in the fridge for the bubbly and white wine, then open one later as a wee reward for your hard work today.
On the day itself
Check your meal planner to ensure that you know what needs to be done and when.
Leave time to get yourself showered and dressed!
Crack open the bubbly and enjoy – you have done the hard work, the rest should be a doddle.
Invite friends round for a leftover dinner. We always have friends round after Christmas, throw together everyone’s leftovers and crack open the Prosecco again! This is one of my favourite traditions at Christmas, though generally the morning after I am a bit the worse for wear!
Store food properly to prevent wastage. Remember that “best before” dates mean that you can still eat it after that date, it just might not be as fresh. However “use by” dates mean that for safety reasons you shouldn’t use them after the date.
Follow Love Food, Hate Waste on Twitter to help you avoid food waste over the festivities.
I hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for planning a stress-free, budget-friendly Christmas dinner.
If you have liked this post, then please see my other Christmas related posts for other money saving, stress-reducing tips.
All the best for Christmas and I hope that next year is good to you.
I am Eileen Adamson, Your Money, Sorted coach, working online with UK based women. I can help you to develop a better relationship with money and feel calm, relaxed and positive about money. This will allow you to feel confident, in control and able to make good financial decisions. Through creating a good relationship with money you can then live the life that YOU want to lead.