Stress-Free Christmas Cooking Tips
Christmas needn’t be a stressful time of year. With some organisation and planning, you’ll be able to enjoy the festive season with your family and guests rather than being exhausted by lunchtime. Below, we’ve listed some of our top tips for taking the stress out of Christmas. And if you have any personal tips that we’ve missed out, we’d love to hear them.
One guaranteed way to create stress is procrastination.
When you think of a task that needs doing, either do it immediately or write it down because, once written down, it is out of your head (leaving your mind clear for more great ideas) …and there’s such a kick in ticking off completed jobs!
Draw up menus for all the meals you plan to make over the Christmas holidays well in advance, including all drinks, breakfasts and snacks. Starting this task early gives you time to look at new Christmas recipes and change your mind or amend, if circumstances or guest numbers change.
- Read the recipes – then read them again. There’s nothing worse than realizing on Christmas Eve that you are missing a vital ingredient.
- Choose recipes that can be made in advance and frozen or that can be prepared one or two days in advance and will keep nicely.
The Shopping List
Shopping is one of the biggest jobs at Christmas so, to simplify the task, make a master shopping list of everything you will need.
- Divide the list into perishable and non-perishable goods, include wines and spirits.
- Buy all non-perishable goods, wines and spirits well in advance as many supermarkets and shops stock them as early as October.
- Many on-line wine and drinks companies will sell wines in mixed cases and will recommend wines suitable for Christmas food, so use their expertise. They also deliver, one less job to do.
- Order any specialist goods well in advance.
- Perishable goods don’t need to be bought on Christmas Eve. Buy them a day or two before and store them in the refrigerator or a cool, frost-free place.
- Don’t be over ambitious, by taking on too much in too short a time. Pull back and be realistic in balancing what is required in the kitchen and everywhere else (gift-wrapping, housework, kids and family).
- Christmas cooking and all it involves is not a time to start experimenting with new techniques. If you have never made bread, now is not the time to start.
If you want to be a domestic god/dess that’s fine, but if you can delegate a few jobs like peeling the potatoes or polishing the glasses it will help ease the pressure. Surprisingly, many people do like to help and share the fun in the kitchen, so don’t be afraid to ask. No one wants a frazzled cook at the Christmas table.
Making a time plan for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is time well-spent. Not only does it help in organising the cooking, it also organises the mind and it is astonishing how many forgotten jobs turn up when writing a time plan.
Time plans lay out the most important jobs and can be adjusted to fit with your menu. Don’t forget – build time for you into the time plan. Time to get ready, or have a glass of wine, is as important as a perfectly cooked dinner.
A Few Jobs Often Overlooked
There are a few jobs that are often forgotten and will make Christmas cooking easier:
- Sharpen knives including the carving knife well in advance, it makes all the chopping, peeling and carving so much easier.
- Clean out the freezer well before Christmas, making space for everything you’ll need.
- Time for a deep clean of the oven. Leaving this job until after Christmas will be ten times messier with all that turkey fat.
Most importantly – Make Time for You
- This is your Christmas as well. You may have built time for you in the time plan, make sure you stick to it. Allow time, during or at the end of cooking, to chill out a little, get ready or have a drink.