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How to get prepared for your Christmas food shop

The festive season will look a bit different this year – and that includes how you might do the Christmas food shop. In a time when we’re all trying to avoid overcrowding in the supermarket, there’s no need to leave your festive food shop until the last minute. Pick up a few extras from now until the big day alongside your weekly food shop to avoid the Christmas Eve rush. Plus, by buying exactly what you need each week, you can manage your Christmas spend so that it will feel like less of a chunk of cash out of your wallet. Read on to find our top planning tips, plus a breakdown of what you can buy when, so it lasts from the moment you buy it until beyond the big day.

  1. Getting started with list planning

    Start by creating a complete festive shopping list and stick to it, it’s the best way to stop yourself from overspending and forgetting the crucial bits.

    Begin with meal-planning around your typical festive celebrations. Planning your meals, not only for Christmas Day but on the days surrounding it, allows you to best use leftovers and reduce any food waste. Then you can plan the drinks, nibbles – and don’t forget the mince pies for Santa!

    If you need help planning your Christmas menus, why not try our Festive Menu Helper tool? You can make your own or choose from our pre-made menus. It’s simple to add dietary requirements and even provides a wine pairing or two so you know exactly what tipples to pick up in store alongside the rest of your ingredients.

    Part of planning is also deciding when to hit the shops. Shop at 8pm in your local Extra store for a quieter shopping trip, or Google your local store to find the quietest shopping times. Then, break your shop down to when each essential needs to be purchased...

    Getting started with list planning
  2. 7-13 December

    The top tip this week is to empty your freezer so that you can stock it well. Try and use up as many odds and ends of opened packs of food and, if you have the time, totally empty and defrost it. Freezer space is a meal planner’s best friend and you’d be surprised by how much you can fit into a well-organised space.


    This week is a great time to pick up some key elements of your festive cheeseboard. In store from the 6 December there are many cheeses such as the Finest French Brie with Truffle, festive Wensleydale & Apricot Truckle and cheeseboard staple Finest Aged Blue Stilton. All store well in the fridge and will keep from now through until Christmas.

    If you’re planning on extending the festivities into the new year, many cheeses are suitable for freezing as well, such as our Red Leicester, Lemon Chilli Star and our Finest Mature Stilton with Port & Scoop.

    Balance out the richness of the cheese with some saltiness from cured meat platters, like our Christmas Crumbed Platter, which will keep well if unopened. Similarly, patés and parfaits in jars last for ages and can also be bought now. Finest Venison and Blackberry Paté is a luxe option that sits well beside more classic Finest Drunken Duck Parfait.

    Now is also a good time to pick up those cupboard-friendly cheeseboard accompaniments. It’s hard to go wrong with classics such as Finest Assorted Crackers for Cheese and Finest Hickory Smoked Nut Selection. Add some Tesco Finest Medjool & Zamli Dates 400g for a bit of sweetness and why not introduce a kick to your nibbles with Finest Telicherry Pepper Nut Selection 225g? 

    Festive bakes

    Same goes for festive bakes, which are in store from the 30 November. Our range of mince pies includes everything from Finest Crumble Topped Mince Pies, through to our exclusive Plant Chef Mince Pies and can be bought and kept through to January – if you can resist tucking into them all.

    Stollen Bites, Finest Classic Panettone and traditional classics like Christmas Pudding will also be in store from the beginning of November, so be sure not to miss out. We’d advise hiding them away from keen-eyed snackers!


    If you’ve chosen what you’re having for Christmas dinner, be it turkey, beef or something vegetable based, you can also start buying in wine and drinks to pair with it. Refer to the Festive Menu Planner if you’d like wine pairing suggestions. 

    Why not pick a signature cocktail to make for your celebrations? Nothing could cheer up a damp Friday evening more than a video cocktail-making session with friends and neighbours. Our Finest The Melodist London Dry Gin has botanicals, including green tea and citrussy yuzu, which makes it perfect for zesty cocktails. 


    Christmas decorating has started way earlier this year, which we are all for! Why not pick up some extra festive cheer in the form of Glitter Poinsettias or a Large Christmas Wreath for the front door alongside your regular weekly food shop.

    7-13 December
  3. 14-20 December

    This is when you can make your freezer really work for you by stocking it with home-prepared vegetables ready for the oven and joints of meat ready to be defrosted.


    There’s more choice than ever this year, in a time when we’re all not quite sure how many will be around the dinner table. From the 14 December, you can pick up your Finest Bronze Whole Turkey or Finest Bronze Turkey Crown and pop it into the freezer, ready for the big day. If you’re after a variety of sizes, you could also go with our range of frozen turkeys, which are in store now and keep frozen until you’re ready to defrost. From 19 December our chilled turkeys will keep perfectly in the fridge until 25 December, so don’t worry if your freezer is already pretty full! And make sure you remember the gravy! Our Finest Turkey Gravy is in store from the 14 December.

    Of course, if turkey isn’t your pick for the big day centrepiece, there’s a huge range of alternatives to choose from, including Gressingham Large Whole Goose to Finest Sous Vide Lamb Shoulder and Finest Chicken Crown with Stuffing to suit both budget and number of people dining.

    If you enjoy gammon at Christmas time, our Finest Extra-Large Unsmoked Wiltshire joint is in store from the 7 December and will keep until Christmas Day.

    Don’t forget the arguably most-loved side dish, Finest 10 Pigs in Blankets, in store from the 23 November. These freeze very well and can be defrosted in the fridge overnight before cooking. Remember, just like in the fridge, it’s good practice to keep raw meats in the bottom of the freezer, or at least always in the same drawer to reduce the risk of cross contamination.


    This week would be a good time to start buying in the vegetables for your roast. Carrots, parsnips, sprouts, potatoes and even leeks last well for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, so they will be fresh for Christmas Day. Potatoes will also keep for up to three weeks in a cool dark cupboard – just remember to take them out of any plastic packaging so that they don’t sweat, as moisture encourages rot.

    Alternatively, prepare your parsnips and roast potatoes for the freezer, so that on the day you can cook them from frozen for ease. For both parsnips and potatoes, start by peeling, chopping and parboiling until almost tender and drain well. Shake potatoes to roughen the edges; now both can be frozen in freezer-safe containers or zip-seal bags. If you’re not looking to prepare veg yourself or are short on fridge space, why not save time and try our range of frozen vegetables, including our frozen Button Brussel sprouts and frozen Broccoli Florets available in store and online now.

    Condiments and stuffing

    If you have plenty of cupboard space, you could start getting in the bits that take a meal to the next level; things like Finest Cranberry & Ruby Port sauce, mint sauces and dry stuffing mixes, such as Finest Wild Sage & Buttered Onion Stuffing, that you’d hate to be without on Christmas day but are easy to forget.

    14-20 December
  4. 21 December - Christmas

    By this week, you should have all of the main components for a cracking Christmas feast, and hopefully be getting the chance to put your feet up and celebrate. A trip to the supermarket this week should be all about the finishing touches and simple time savers, for the things that have the shortest shelf life.


    While you might not need a huge buffet spread this year, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on your party favourites. Be the envy of your extended family video call with the chilled party food range, including Finest Crispy Katsu Chicken Curry Spring Rolls, Finest 10 Mini Ham Hock & Cheddar topped Crumpets and family favourite Halloumi Fries and much more from 20 December. There’s something for everyone, with Plant Chef No-Mozzarella Sticks and Wicked Kitchen No-Chicken Drumettes as well.

    Fruit and veg

    Finishing touches such as soft herbs like parsley and sage, and extra fruit and vegetables such as clementines and cabbage, can be bought this week. If you have a garden, most can be stored outside in ‘nature’s fridge’ in a secure box or in a cooler in a shed or garage. It’s also a great idea to store wine and fizzy drinks outside to keep cool, so that you’re not wasting precious fridge space.


    Don’t forget to grab the Brandy Butter, Brandy Sauce and Pouring Brandy Cream for your Christmas puddings. A decadent way to start Christmas morning is to use a little Finest Brandy Butter on your morning pastries and croissants to really start the day off well.

    Breakfast pastries

    No one wants to be the poor soul hunting for the last pack of croissants on Christmas Eve, so be sure to buy packs of Tesco Finest Croissants early on in the week and pop them in the freezer. Why not try the bake from frozen 4 Almond Croissant and Large Pain au Chocolat as well, so that you can have freshly baked, buttery pastries while you open gifts?


    The ultimate last-minute purchase? An extra bag of ice. Even if celebrations are smaller and look a little different this year, there never seems to be enough ice leftover for a cheeky Bailey’s or Finest Gingerbread Latte Cream Liqueur at the end of the night.

    Don’t forget that you can still eat, freeze or cook products after their ‘best before’ dates. But do pay close attention to ‘use by’ dates, especially when buying in advance.

    21 December - Christmas