Christmas menu planning
By Melissa Klemke
Nobody wants to be a sobbing mess before, during or after the Christmas meal but if there are any tears on Christmas Day, they will be shed by the poor person serving the Christmas food rather than the child whose new toy broke.
The person who cooks the Christmas dinner or lunch can spend plenty of time and money preparing a gourmet meal, for what ends up being a lot of stress and only a smidge of personal satisfaction.
By staying organised, a Christmas menu can actually be enjoyed by the person who has cooked it. The food will be ready on time and the cook won't have to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of food or tied to the kitchen missing out on all the festivities.
Here are some tips that I've learned over time from the guru of Christmas food, my mum! She delivers a stress-free- precision-timed lunch every time.
Start with a menu you can enjoy
If you want a relaxing Christmas, use recipes that you're confident pulling off without too much stress.- Christmas is not the time to decide you are secretly Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver and want to embrace your inner Master Chef.
Simple, traditional Christmas recipes work for just about everyone. Some of the easiest recipes to cook include:
- Easy turkey and stuffing
- Glazed ham
- Roast pork with perfect crackling
- Cheat's Turkey and stuffing
- Simple trifle
- Christmas pudding ice cream
Don't make Christmas harder than it needs to be
Buy frozen croissants and serve fresh fruit for breakfast, have a cold lunch which can be prepared the day before and make up your salads in the morning. Make your Christmas cake or Chocolate pavlova or even Christmas pudding icecream in advance. Delegate! Share the load. Sit down, relax, enjoy your Christmas - a bit of forward planning, your lists and printables and a few Christmas cocktails will see you right!
What to eat?
When doing your menu planning, think about the following:
- Will you be eating at home? How many will you be catering for?
- Or will you be travelling, with food?
- What's the weather usually like? Hot or cool?
How to juggle fridge space at Christmas
The week leading up to Christmas puts your family on a mission: eat everything out of the fridge and freezer that's not being consumed AT Christmas, thus freeing up fridge space. This saves you both space AND money, you aren't throwing anything away!
- If you're entertaining many people, hire an extra fridge over the Christmas break, they can be quite inexpensive, or if you're lucky see if any of your friends or family have a spare one!
- Frugal tip: Delegate some dishes to guests to bring that can be served on their arrival!
- Don't discount the trusty esky; transfer all drinks to the esky and buy some ice late on Christmas Eve. You can also clean out the recycling bin or toy tubs to make for extra drink storage space.
Frugal tips to shop for Christmas fare
- Be absolutely thorough with your shopping list - use our printable shopping list as a good reminder of what you may need. I follow my Mum's rule to write out the menu, and then on another page write down all the ingredients needed, cross out what you have stocked, leaving the rest and eliminating that need to duck down to the supermarket for that essential missing ingredient.
- On your list, mark down what you can buy ahead, such as dry goods and alcohol to cut down your shopping time during the crazy shopping period three days prior to Christmas.Shop for the bare minimum on the last few days before Christmas Day - usually the fresh produce like fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and dairy.
Money saving tip
Buy pantry items like soft drinks, sweets, nibbles when on special in advance, stash away in your laundry or linen cupboard, out of sight and out of mind. It will save money shopping down the track because all those prices tend to hike up just before Christmas.
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- Christmas kids cooking
- Christmas sweet treats
- Christmas drinks ideas
- Christmas brunch party ideas