It pays to get organised in the run up to Christmas. Follow our handy tips to help you save time and money, giving you more room to relax and indulge!
Save money and make space before Christmas
- Eat from the freezer a couple of times a week to free up space in the run up to Christmas. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the meals you can make.
- Take stock of everything in your cupboards and fridge, planning recipes to use up all the leftovers.
- In the chaotic weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s easy to forget to plan meals and stick to your weekly budget. Our meal planner will help you find delicious recipe ideas for getting organised one week at a time!
- Plan vegetarian dishes on your weekly menu to cut down on costs that could be put towards your Christmas treats. You could also try bulking out meat-based recipes with pulses twice a week.
Prepare ahead for Christmas entertaining
- Delegate Christmas jobs to help save you time and money. If the whole family is coming to you for Christmas lunch, delegate courses or dishes for people to bring along well in advance.
- Make your own mince pies - freeze them uncooked in their tins and bake a few at a time, as and when you need them. Use ready made pastry to save time.
- Make the stuffing and pig in blankets in advance. Label and freeze them in bags for up to 2 weeks - freezer bags are best to use as they take up less space in the freezer.
- Prepare and parboil potatoes and parsnips and freeze in a single layer on trays. Once frozen, pack them into freezer bags, seal, label and return to the freezer. Cook as normal straight from the freezer, giving them around 10-15 minutes extra cooking time.
- Use up stale bread and make your bread sauce ahead of time. Freeze in portions sizes and thaw as needed. Once thawed, add a little more milk (or cream), a dab of butter and seasoning, and heat. This means you have one less extra dish to make on the day, and enough spare when you are eating up the leftovers.
- Make your own orange cranberry sauce. When making the cranberry sauce for the freezer, use up the squeezed juice from oranges or clementines from the fruit bowl. Pack into plastic airtight containers, label and freeze.
Be a savvy festive shopper
- Before you go shopping, work out exactly how much food you are going to need – use our Christmas recipes as a guide for quantities for veg, starters and puds.
- Prepare a shopping list and stick to it. Store food properly and it will last longer than you’d expect.
The closer it gets to Christmas Day the more frantic the supermarkets get, so plan your shopping trips in good time.
- Pick up bargains by shopping at the end of the day when food is marked down, and then freeze immediately. Food frozen on the use by date will be perfectly fine for defrosting later.
Make foodie gifts
- Make your family and friends delicious homemade chutneys – these are easy to make and count as a brilliantly personal yet inexpensive present. Decorate jars and label with the date and storage instructions; they will keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year and once opened, store in the fridge and use within one month. Check out our chutney recipes:
Apple, pear and cranberry chutney
Caramelised onion chutney
Beetroot, orange and chilli chutney
- Help children make edible gifts. Grandparents, aunties, uncles and in fact just about anyone will appreciate a homemade foodie treat from a younger member of the family.
Sort out the sweet treats
- Make spicy nuts out of any half opened packets of nuts. They will keep fresh in a screw top jar until the big day. Take a mixture of brazil nuts, almonds, pecans and put them in a roasting tin. Sprinkle over ½ tsp each of cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, sea salt, black pepper and 2 tsp caster sugar. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and bake for 15 min. Cool before storing in airtight jars or airtight containers. Label and decorate the jars if giving as gifts.
- Complete your Christmas cake - top with marzipan and icing and store in an airtight container in a cool place. Once you’ve cut into it, wrap in clingfilm, store in an airtight container, and it will keep for several weeks. If you want to make it last longer, wrap individual pieces of Christmas cake in foil and it will freeze for up to 3 months.
- Try a lighter alternative to Christmas pud. Make a Christmas fruit compôte in advance. Ripe fruit from the fruit bowl can be transformed into a lovely warm Christmas fruit salad for Christmas day; peel, core and cut into small chunks fruit such as apples, pears, plums, apricots and damsons, put into an ovenproof dish with a little honey, a splash of orange juice, a few raisins, prunes, knob of butter, a dash of alcohol such as brandy, a sprinkling of spices such as nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and star anise. Cover and cook at 200°C (400°C) mark 6 for about 25 minutes. Cool, put into a freezerproof container, label and freeze. To serve, defrost overnight and gently warm in the oven, serve with brandy butter, custard or ice cream.
And if you’ve got too much food…
- If your fridge is full to bursting, save it for highly perishable foods and use an unheated garage, larder, cool understairs cupboard, balcony or even an animal-free area of the garden for drinks, eggs, root vegetables and hard cabbage. Use cool boxes and have ice packs at the ready in the freezer.
With thanks to Love Food Hate Waste