Hints and tips
Make Christmas last
It all adds up. Don’t be tempted to rush to the shops after Christmas. Plan instead to make the most of your Christmas foods. If you are worried that you will end up with lots of little Christmas bits and pieces, here are some ideas. Leftover cranberry jelly can be used in brownies; mayonnaise in a moist chocolate cake, after dinner mints in ice cream and just a few spoonfuls of leftover pudding can make a strudel or add flavour to ice-cream.
If unexpected guests are a possibility, put your mind at rest with some of our ‘great for freezing’ recipes. It’s a good idea to freeze them in individual portions so that you can defrost the exact amounts that you need if extras turn up unannounced. It’s hard to judge if people will have enough room for pudding with so much food around. Prevent waste by having some standbys in the cupboard – tinned tropical fruit and a packet of readymade crumble topping and a quick crumble can be yours.
Finding that extra storage
If you know that you will be needing extra storage space for foods that like to be kept cool and dry (eg potatoes, onions, bread etc) then how about finding a secure lidded box for use in a garage, shed, greenhouse or even balcony? Sometimes the boot of a car or cool box can act as an emergency cold storage area for the short term!
Mice pie - handy tips
Mince pies can be made in advance and frozen uncooked. You might like to add little extras to shop bought mincemeat and at the same time use up some of those storecupboard items that can get forgotten eg chopped dried fruits, nuts, seeds, cherries and of course, cooking brandy! If homemade mincemeat isn’t your thing, how about using those ingredients with some melted dark chocolate, melted butter and crushed biscuits to make fridge cake. Cut into small squares and wrapped up in a gift bag it can make a nice homemade prezzie.
Guests with dietary requirements
Do you know of anyone coming with allergies or special dietary requirements?
Make a note on your meal plan so that you are not caught out when the shops are shut. A good tip is to have a veggie alternative from our online recipe finder stashed away.
Nuts and nibbles
Crackers and crisps, boxes of biscuits and packets of nuts will all have a long best before date on them so it’s quite safe to buy them in advance – especially if they are on special offer. If savoury snacks get opened early and go a little soggy, a short time spread on a baking tray and popped into a warm oven for just a few minutes will help them get crisped up again as they cool down.
Save time on the roast
Root veg for roasting can be prepared and frozen in advance to save you the job of peeling the spuds on Christmas morning. You can save money by using spuds that are going a bit sprouty or carrots that are slightly bendy and won’t make it to Christmas. Par boil (cook them in boiling water for about 5 minutes), cool them quickly by running them under a cold tap, toss in some oil and then pack into bags or plastic tubs for freezing.
When life gives you lemons...
Lovely homemade limoncello in time for Christmas! Couldn’t be easier and might come in handy as an emergency gift at a pinch, although it’s hard to give away. Take 6 unwaxed lemons and remove the zest with a veg peeler. Put the zest in a pan with 100ml of water and 250g of castor sugar. Heat slowly until the sugar dissolves then simmer gently for 15 minutes, add the juice from the lemons, simmer for 5 and then leave to cool. Add it to a kilner jar or large bottle, pour in a 70cl bottle of vodka and leave is for a week, shaking gently every day. Strain and decant into a pretty bottle. It will keep for months (if you need it to!).
Divide your shopping list into items that will last well if got in advance, items for the freezer and fresh food that you will need to get just before Christmas. By the way, how are you getting on making space in the freezer? Try to have at least one empty drawer to set aside for Christmas food.
Make the most of your shopping budget
If your shopping list is looking expensive, here are some tips. You can make many of your Christmas meats go a lot further by adding in other, cheaper ingredients, but still with yummy results. Leftover Turkey, Coconut and Chickpea curry can also be bulked out with all sorts of veg, or if you want a break from meat, use up cheese from the cheese board to make a Carrot, lentil and cheese slice. If you make a plan for your after Christmas meals now, working out how to use leftovers or stretching your more expensive foods, you are less likely to waste food. There are lots more recipes online.