Just in case, like me, you haven’t really got yourself organised for cooking one of the most important meals of the year (no pressure!), here are 10 quick time-saving tips to try in the kitchen.
You can spend the time you save doing something more important – like drinking Prosecco or perfecting your Christmas ‘look’. My Christmas ‘look’ usually just involves taking my apron off as once the kids are up it’s chaos.
I very often make a list and stick it somewhere constantly in sight. You could have a timetable for cooking Christmas lunch or a meal planner for the whole festive period.
Make sure you note down timings, quantities and temperatures.
The Husband and I usually prep the veg whilst watching TV on Christmas Eve.
Buy the trimmings
You don’t have to make everything yourself. I’ve bought pre-made pork & sage stuffing balls and mini sausages wrapped in bacon which can be quickly put in the oven alongside the turkey.
Whilst you’re at it, why not buy some cubed pancetta which goes lovely with brussel sprouts or some flaked almonds which jazz up broccoli. A drizzle of honey and some orange zest brightens up carrots too.
Berries and sprigs of herbs like Rosemary can add some pizzazz to warming winter drinks.
Don’t forget the essentials
You know, the dull but vital stuff like matches for candles and extra bin bags. You can find my helpful list in this post. You really don’t want to be running out to your local corner shop to hunt for stock cubes or cream either.
Make the most of your gadgets
Christmas is the time lots of kitchen gadgets come into their own. If you have a breadmaker you can wake up to fresh bread on Christmas morning. Some of these are quite sophisticated, for example the breadmakers by Panasonic have Artisan, Rustic Sourdough and Scone modes as well as fruit and nut dispensers and a gluten free programme.
We also use a Nutri Ninja bullet blender to blend vegetables to hide in sauces (for dishes like meatballs and spaghetti sauces). Caitlin and Ieuan have no idea how many veg they have actually eaten this year!
Cheat with desserts!
As long as you hide the packaging you can easily get away with shop bought desserts. Just add some freshly chopped strawberries or berries (keep a bag of frozen fruit in the freezer) to decorate a shop bought cheesecake.
And you can’t go wrong with good quality shop bought ice cream which you can jazz up with some warmed dulce de leche and a few toffee cubes – or even M&Ms for the kids.
Make space in the freezer
We make sure we use up some of the stuff lurking in our freezer so that there’s room for desserts etc over the Christmas period. I usually find I’ve been bulk buying oven chips and fish fingers! A good defrost a couple of weeks before Christmas is a good idea too – because it’s colder the food will survive a bit longer outside the freezer.
Space in your freezer will also let you quickly chill bottles of wine and beer. Just pop them in for 20 minutes or so.
And you’ll need lots of ice cubes too!
Put Individual Portions In Freezer Bags
You could speed up food prep by pre-portioning veg, berries, chicken fillets, mince beef and the like in individual freezer bags so you can just pull out what you need without weighing and measuring.
There are some more great tips on easy festive food prep from Tesco here.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to rope in the family to help out where you can. There’s no reason why little ones can’t help set the table or lay the crackers out.
Do you have any time-saving festive kitchen tips? I’d love to hear them.